Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
Mandated by the Outcome Document (The Future We Want) of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the Intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was established in January 2013.
The OWG reports to the UN General Assembly and is described by former GA President Vuk Jeremić as “the single-most important element of the post-2015 agenda”. In its final report to the UNGA by September 2014, it will propose a set of SDGs that should be “limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate, addressing all three dimensions of sustainable development (social, economic and environmental)”.
FAO and the Open Working Group
In contributing technical knowledge to the OWG, FAO identified, in agreement with Members, 14 thematic areas to its work, nine of which centre on environmental issues.
FAO co-led the interagency issues briefs on sustainable agriculture (with IFAD) and food security and nutrition (with WFP and IFAD) at the 3rd OWG in May 2013, and co-led issues briefs on oceans and seas, forests and biodiversity (with UNEP) at the 8th OWG in February 2014.
FAO also contributed to a number of other issues briefs - water and sanitation; drought, land degradation and desertification; employment and decent work, social protection, youth; health; inclusive economic growth; macro-economic policy, trade; energy; means of implementation; needs of countries in special situations; human rights; global governance; sustainable production and consumption, climate change, disaster risk reduction; gender equality.
Working together with Rome-based Agencies the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), FAO has also produced common targets on sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition to inform discussions among Member States and other stakeholders. See targets and indicators: At a glance | full document
Lasting from 3 to 5 days, OWG sessions are supported by the UN system, with agencies providing knowledge through the preparation of issues briefs and panellist contributions for each thematic session. OWG meetings are also the stage for a number of side events organised by UN agencies, often jointly with civil society and private sector organisations and other stakeholders, ensuring “the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society”.
While the OWG is a 30-member body, each seat in the Group is shared by 1-4 Member States, with countries deciding among themselves how they will be represented at each meeting (see list of members).
Following the eight thematic “stocktaking”sessions, the OWG will move into negotiation mode, meeting on a monthly basis between March and July 2014 to design a set of Sustainable Development Goals for inclusion in its final report to the UNGA by September 2014.
- 3–5 March
- 31 March–4 April
- 5–9 May
- 16–20 June
- 14–18 July
OWG1, 14-15 March 2013
OWG2, 17-19 April 2013, (co-chairs’ summary)
- Conceptualizing the SDGs and the SDG process (TST* Issues brief)
- Poverty eradication (TST Issues brief)
OWG3, 22-24 May 2013 (co-chairs’ summary)
- food security and nutrition (TST Issues brief)
- Sustainable agriculture (TST Issues brief)
- Drought and desertification, land degradation (TST Issues brief)
- Water and sanitation. (TST Issues brief)
OWG4, 17-19 June 2013 (co-chairs’ summary)
- Health (TST Issues brief)
- Population dynamics (TST Issues brief)
- Employment and decent work for all (TST Issues brief)
- Social protection (TST Issues brief)
- Youth, education and culture (TST Issues brief)
OWG5, 25-27 November 2013, (co-chairs’ summary)
- Energy (TST Issues brief)
- Sustained and inclusive economic growth (TST Issues brief)
- Macroeconomic policy questions (including international trade, international financial system and external debt sustainability), infrastructure development and Industrialization (TST Issues brief)
OWG6, 9-13 December (co-chairs’ summary)
- Means of implementation (science and technology, knowledge-sharing and capacity building (TST Issues brief); Means of implementation; Global partnership for achieving sustainable development (TST Issues brief)
- Needs of countries in special situations, African countries, LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS as well as the specific challenges facing the middle-income countries (TST Issues brief)
- Human rights, the right to development (TST Issues brief)
- Global governance (TST Issues brief)
OWG7, 6-10 January 2014 (co-chairs’ summary)
- Sustainable cities and human settlements (TST Issues brief)
- Sustainable transport (TST Issues brief)
- Sustainable consumption and production (including chemicals and waste) (TST Issues brief)
- Climate change and disaster risk reduction (TST Issues brief)
OWG8, 3-7 February 2014 (co-chairs’ summary)
- Oceans and seas, forests and biodiversity (Co-led by UNEP and FAO)
- Promoting equality, including social equity ( TST Issues brief )
- Gender equality and women’s empowerment ( TST Issues brief )
- Conflict prevention, post-conflict peacebuilding and the promotion of durable peace, rule of law and governance ( TST Issues brief )
OWG9, 3–5 March 2014
- Draft Programme of Work on Ninth Session of the Open Working Group on SDGs
- Focus Areas of the Sustainable Development Goals
- Letter from the Co-Chairs of the Open Working Group on SDGs, 21 February 2014
OWG10, 31 March - 4 April 2014
TST*= UN Technical Support Team