United Nations: General Assembly adopts SDG outcome

The United Nations General Assembly on 10 September adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outcome document.

The resolution of the 68th session of the General Assembly was in line with developing countries' request that the report of the Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs shall be the main basis for integrating sustainable development goals into the post-2015 development agenda.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly recognises that other inputs will also be considered in the intergovernmental negotiation process at the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly that was convened on 16 September.

In the resolution A/RES/68/309 distributed on 12 September, and titled "68/309. Report of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 66/288," the origins of the SDGs are recalled, i.e. the outcome document of the 2012 Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, entitled "The future we want", in which Heads of State and Government resolved to establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on sustainable development goals open to all stakeholders, with a view to developing global sustainable development goals to be agreed by the General Assembly.

In a letter to the President of the General Assembly, the Group of 77 urged that the General Assembly ensure three key things:

(1) To ensure that the report of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals as contained in A/68/970 shall be the basis for integrating SDGs into the Post-2015 Development Agenda;

(2) To assure that any further discussions on the integration of SDGs into the Post-2015 Development Agenda is a part of intergovernmental negotiations during the 69th session of the General Assembly, and is based on the report of the OWG; and

(3) To not re-open or re-negotiate the OWG outcome document, and thereby to fully preserve the outcome of the OWG's transparent and inclusive intergovernmental process.

Developing countries are particularly concerned that other processes that are not open and subject to fair intergovernmental dialogue could take precedence over that of the OWG outcome, which was the result of challenging discussions among Member States starting in March 2013 and concluding in July 2014.

During the PGA stockholding session, developed country delegations called for reducing the number of goals and targets, through a "streamlined" approach. Countries like the United States were, unsurprisingly, not in favour of the language in Goal 17 on means of implementation, which includes structural issues such as international trade rules and reforming the international financial system.

However, the political momentum was clearly not with the objecting countries. The G77 group of developing countries was cohesive and united in their view that the Open Working Group's outcome is the basis for negotiation moving forward.

The G77 chair and some other key countries cautioned against placing the desire for an easily communicable agenda ahead of the substantive and meaningful work that needs to get done to achieve actual socio-economic development and to reduce global/local inequalities.

The G77 specifically mentioned that the Open Working Group document contains constructive guidance for the SDGs, and that all reservations on the text must be compiled into and clearly referenced in an official document.

The Arab Group expressed its long-standing concern on Goal 16 (peace/conflict/rule of law), and requested that Goal 16 include targets on ending all forms of colonial domination and foreign occupation, as well as strengthening adherence to international law by all stakeholders and intensifying international cooperation on countering terrorism, especially by addressing its root causes.

By Bhumika Muchhala.

Source: SUNS #7877 Friday 19 September 2014.