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Sustainable Development Goals

In late March, the third “negotiating session” on the post-2015 development agenda focused on a proposed timeline for the UN Statistical Commission to create a set of indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 Goals set forth the aspirations of the world for sustainable development; each is fleshed out by a group of more specific targets, and each target is going to be measured by a set of indicators. For example, the goal (#6) on Ensuring Availability of Water and Sanitation includes targets such as an improved percentage of people using safe water and sanitation services, an improved percentage of wastewater flows treated, and a reduction in the proportion of total water resources used. The indicators (telling us whether the targets have been met) would include the percentage of people with access to hand washing facilities, the percentage connected to sewer systems, and the like…things that can be measured. There was some tension over any changes suggested for the targets and indicators, even “friendly” changes, because many (especially the developing countries) fear losing the gains they have made in bringing their particular issues to light. The meeting also included a sharing session with NGOs, and a joint meeting that linked the SDG process with the preparatory process for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) coming in April 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After all, how we are going to pay for the SDGs?