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Sustainable Development Goals: Parliamentary Perspectives

Published Thursday, September 10, 2015

UN member states are expected to agree a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) at a high level summit in New York from 25 to 27 September 2015. This Library Note provides information on issues relating to the SDGs which have attracted parliamentary attention over recent months including the number of goals; universal health coverage; climate change; and implementation and monitoring.

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This Library Note has been prepared in advance of the debate in the House of Lords on 17 September 2015:

[…] that this House takes note of the forthcoming summit on sustainable development goals in September and Her Majesty’s Government’s objectives at that summit.

The United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be held from 25 to 27 September 2015 in New York, as a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly. At this summit, UN member states are expected to agree the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a framework of 17 goals and 169 targets covering both human development and environmental sustainability, all based on the fundamental principle of “leave no one behind”. The SDGs are intended to cover the period until 2030. The international community began work several years ago on developing a new framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), most of which had a target deadline of 2015. From September 2014, work on the ‘post-2015 development agenda’ was brought together with a separate strand of work begun under the Rio+20 process to draw up a set of sustainable development goals. The SDGs to be agreed at the September summit are the culmination of both of these strands of work.

The House of Commons Library briefing on The Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, published on 4 September 2015, provides information about the international negotiating process leading up to the SDGs and an analysis of the UK Government’s policy. (Similar ground is covered in the House of Lords Library Note on Global Development Goals in 2015, published in December 2014, about the earlier stages of the negotiating process.) The purpose of this Library Note is to complement that briefing by providing further information on parliamentary perspectives, highlighting issues which have attracted attention during select committee inquiries, debates and parliamentary questions over recent months. These include:

  • Are 17 targets and 169 goals so numerous as to be unworkable?
  • Should universal health coverage be prioritised in the standalone goal on health, or be mentioned in the underlying health targets?
  • Should there be a standalone goal on climate change, and should specific targets on climate change be included in the SDGs?
  • How can the UK implement and monitor the new SDGs?

Lords Library notes LLN-2015-0028

Author: Nicola Newson

Topics: Climate change, EU external relations, International development, United Nations

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