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The Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Millennium Development Goals


Today’s development goals have their origins in the Millennium Declaration, a shared vision among world leaders, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 2000. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that followed provided milestones for global and national development endeavours up until the end of 2015.

With that target date fast approaching, UN Member States have now turned their attention towards what should follow. The post-2015 process was shaped by two distinct streams. In one, the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was initiated by Member States in June 2012 at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro. And in another  the UN Secretary-General (SG), Mandated by the UNGA, established  a UN System Task Team (UNTT)  following the September 2010 MDG Summit to coordinate system‐wide preparations, build on successes and map lessons learned from the MDGs while supporting Member States in proposing a unified vision and road map for the ‘Post‐2015 Development Agenda’. 

FAO and Post-2015

FAO has been active in the twin processes of Post-2015 and the OWG on SDGs. FAO co-led one of the 11 Thematic Consultations - Hunger, Food Security and Nutrition – in the Post-2015 process, and supported meetings of the OWG by gathering knowledge and expertise on themes associated with social, economic and environmental sustainability. The Organization identified 14 thematic areas to its work in contributing technical knowledge to the OWG, nine of which centre on environmental issues. FAO also contributes capacity in sponsoring and organising events designed to inform and engage member states, stakeholders and the general public on the Post-2015 process.

Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

An Open Working Group (OWG) of the UNGA was established in January 2013, calling on inputs from “relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system in its work”. The OWG held eight stocktaking sessions on key themes related to environmental, social and economic sustainability, sitting for 3-5 days each month between March 2013 and June 2013, and then from November 2013 to February 2014. The OWG moved into deliberation phase between March and July 2014, culminating in an Outcome Document that was presented in its final report to the UNGA by September 2014.

11 Thematic consultations

With the need for greater engagement identified as a key lesson from the MDG process, the Secretary-General sought inputs from a wide range of stakeholders. Eleven Global Thematic Consultations, close to 100 national and regional consultations and a public survey were organised between November 2012 and April 2013, gathering opinion from the general public, civil society and others on what should be included in the next goals. A second round of country-level consultations among stakeholders focuses on the means of implementation.

In July 2012, the Secretary-General announced a 27-member High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLPEP) to provide guidance and recommendations on the post-2015 development agenda. The HLPEP, which comprised of leaders from government, civil society and the private sector, produced its report in May 2013. The HLPEP also included Amina J. Mohammed (Nigeria), who had been appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning. The consultations and HLPEP report, together with commissioned reports of the United Nations Global Compact (businesses), the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (science and technology) and the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (civil society), informed the Secretary-General’s report on the MDGs and the post-2015 agenda at the 68th session of the UNGA. The SG will present a final report on post-2015 later in 2014, synthesising the various inputs to the process, including the OWG report, and the report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing.


As described in the Outcome Document of the Special Event on the MDGs that was adopted at the UNGA in September 2013, the Secretary-General will present a final report on post-2015 by the end of 2014, synthesising the various inputs to the process, including the OWG on SDGs, the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing as well as the results from a second round of consultations among stakeholders that will focus on the means of implementation of a post-2015 agenda. Intergovernmental negotiations will then begin culminating in September 2015 with a high-level summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Extract from Outcome Document of the Special Event on the MDGs at 68th UNGA

“...We underscore the central imperative of poverty eradication and are committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency. Recognising the intrinsic interlinkage between poverty eradication and promotion of sustainable development, we underline the need for a coherent approach which integrates in a balanced manner the three dimensions of sustainable development. This coherent approach involves working towards a single framework and set of Goals -universal in nature and applicable to all countries, while taking account of differing national circumstances and respecting national policies and priorities. It should also promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all.” (September 2013)