Transforming our world by 2030: Why must we care? What must we do?

by 23rd Oct 2015
Global Goals launch UNGA September 2015 Global Goals launch UNGA September 2015 Li Muzi/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Guest blog by Nelson Muffuh from the UN's Post-2015 Development Planning Unit: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was successfully adopted in September in New York by an unprecedented number of world leaders, and this is a huge achievement in the face of extensive negotiations and contributions from civil society and other stakeholders.

The UN Summit to adopt this Agenda showed that there is great ownership of the 2030 Agenda by Heads of State and Government, and leaders from civil society and the private sector. This integrated, transformative, and universal Agenda fosters a holistic approach to sustainable development with the objective of leaving no one behind.

The 2030 Agenda is comprised of indivisible and mutually reinforcing 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) and 169 targets to end poverty and foster human wellbeing and shared prosperity everywhere and for all; that aim to protect our planet and safeguard our natural resources whilst fostering peace; and that will be delivered through partnerships.

Now that the adoption has been done, we must now immediately shift our attention to the arrangements and measures for coherent implementation which include finalising the indicators, ensuring alignment with national development policies and laying the groundwork for monitoring and accountability. Implementation will be the litmus test of this Agenda and will require serious financial commitment, partnerships and other means of implementation. Starting in 2016, the SDGs will apply to all countries and will require all stakeholders to be part of the effort of delivering results. For this, we need meaningful partnerships as well as both financial and non-financial means.

As agreed, all financing streams will need to be optimised towards sustainable development, and coordinated for the greatest impact. Financing the 2030 Agenda will not be found in one solution, nor borne by one set of actors. All resources – public, private, national and international – need to be tapped into. Ensuring responsible and regulated business practices will be important and civil society alongside governments will need to encourage this through consumer, shareholder, board and employee engagement.

The core contribution of business to the SDGs will be changing business models, strategies and metrics for integrating sustainable development. Progressive businesses are already taking actions and encouraging others to move to a tipping point where sustainability will become ‘business as usual’.

Urgent action is needed to mobilise, redirect, and unlock the transformative power of trillions of dollars of public and private resources to deliver on sustainable development objectives. These resources will need to be leveraged and channelled where they are most needed for people and planet.

A major challenge going forward will also be to maintain the ambition and momentum demonstrated so far, as the indicators for the SDGs are finalised and the discussions about inclusive follow-up and review at national, regional and global levels through the High Level Political Forum are advanced.

While the UN system will continue to provide its support, the transition from the adoption to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda will require strong leadership by Heads of States and Governments backed by robust advocacy and mobilisation from civil society and other stakeholders.

Sustained and active engagement is essential in the years ahead to contribute to ongoing efforts geared at ensuring that the world delivers on sustainable development.

To seize this historic opportunity, we must continue to ‘care’ and need to work collectively. Everybody, and in particular NGOs with motivated activists and professionals, has an essential and leading role to play in this transformation. Our practical commitments and activism at all levels can encourage political and community leaders to act more courageously in protecting people and the planet.

To turn these global promises into local action, we need proactive and deepened engagement from stakeholders. Three ways in which NGOs and other civil society stakeholders can be involved in this effort include:

  • advocating for and being part of delivering the required data revolution to ensure everybody counts and is counted;
  • collaborating with a renewed UN global campaign and other complementary initiatives to deepen advocacy and robust engagement to ensure promises made by public and private sector leaders become actions delivered; and
  • enhancing programme delivery including by ensuring policy interventions are coherent and programme structures and processes are fit for purpose.

We must therefore CARE and decisively act because:

  • We have a plan to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere and to protect the planet. This plan will improve the lives of everyone, share prosperity and tackle climate change.
  • We have the resources, innovative technology and capacity for all economies to grow to transform everybody’s lives without harming the environment.
  • Our plan is achievable and not abstract since the vision, global goals and targets are already grounded in people’s aspirations and ongoing proven interventions.
  • The interlinked and universal SDGs address the root causes of complex persisting and emerging challenges everywhere.
  • The cost of inaction or business as usual will be costlier to people, our societies, our economies and the planet.
  • Joining together in genuine partnerships, we can make this global vision a reality everywhere.
  • The time to act is now to chart an era of sustainable development and transform our world by 2030 for people and planet.

Nelson Muffuh

Nelson Muffuh is Head of Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement, Post-2015 Development Planning Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary General to the United Nations.