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.
It was charged with proposing a set of SDGs to the UNGA by September 2014 that should be “limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate, addressing all three dimensions of sustainable development (social, economic and environmental)” calling on inputs from “relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system in its work”.
The OWG’s final report included a chapeau, 17 goals and 169 targets. On 10 September 2014, the UNGA adopted a resolution making the OWG’s proposal the “the main basis for integrating SDGs into the post-2015 development agenda, while recognizing that other inputs will also be considered in this process at the 69th session of the UNGA”.
FAO and the Open Working Group
In contributing technical knowledge to the OWG, FAO had identified, in agreement with Members, 14 thematic areas to its work, nine of which centre on environmental issues.
All of these thematic areas featured in the OWG’s final report. FAO co-led technical inputs for Goal 2 (food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture), Goal 14 (marine resources and oceans) and Goal 15 (ecosystems, biodiversity, forests, land/soils, mountains), and also contributed to Goals: 1 (poverty), 5 (gender), 6 (water), 11 (human settlements) and 12 (sustainable consumption and production).
FAO’s contribution began at the 3rd OWG in May 2013 when the Organization co-led interagency issues briefs on sustainable agriculture (with IFAD) and food security and nutrition (with WFP and IFAD). At the 8th OWG in February 2014, FAO co-led issues briefs on oceans and seas, forests and biodiversity (with UNEP).
In the stocktaking phase, the Organization 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.
In the deliberation phase of the OWG (March – July 2014), FAO co-led technical inputs in three of the 19 initial focus areas: food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture (together with IFAD and WFP); marine resources, oceans and seas; and ecosystems and biodiversity. The Organization also contributed expertise to a number of other focus areas.
FAO identified targets and indicators for each of its 14 themes, and together with Rome-based Agencies, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), identified common targets and indicators on sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition.
Lasting from 3 to 5 days, OWG sessions were supported by the UN system, with agencies providing knowledge through the preparation of issues briefs and panellist contributions for each thematic session. OWG meetings were 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 was a 30-member body, each seat in the Group was shared by 1-4 Member States, with countries deciding among themselves how they would be represented at each meeting (see list of members).
Following the eight thematic “stocktaking” sessions, the OWG moved to the deliberation phase, and met on a monthly basis between March and July 2014 in designing a set of Sustainable Development Goals.
- 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
Focus Area Document (19 March 2014)
OWG11, 5-9 May 2014
- Letter from Co-chairs of the Open Working Group on SDGs, 17 April 2014
- Working Document for the 11th OWG on SDGs
OWG12, 16-20 June 2014
OWG13, 14-18 July 2014
- Letter from Co-chairs of the Open Working Group on SDGs, 30 June 2014
- Outcome Document - Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
- The complete Report of the Open Working Group on SDGs - EN | FR | ES | AR | CH | RU
TST*= UN Technical Support Team