UNF Alert 14 and 15

UN Foundation Monthly Monitors (September and October)

  • On September 25, 2015, at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, 193 governments took the historic step of formally agreeing on a shared vision and plan for humanity’s future by gaveling through the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • In the days before the summit, civil society rallies and marches in support of the SDGs were held all over the world, including “Under One Sky” in the plaza across the street from the UN. With the aim of informing 7 billion people in 7 days about the SDGs, inspiring videossongsstunts and concerts helped to make these goals famous so that citizens would be engaged.
  • This monitor provides a list of commitments and announcements made by governments during the SDG Summit as well as those made during side events.
  • The pre-UNGA September Monthly Monitor is also given below, which includes the new PGA’s priorities for the 70th UNGA as well as SDGs and 2030 Agenda issues yet to be fleshed out such as follow-up and review and indicators.
  • For news coverage on the SDGs, you may wish to sign up to Global Daily, an aggregator of news on the SDGs. Information on the efforts taking place around the world is available here.



October Monitor: Highlights from the SDG Summit

The SDG Summit opened on September 25 with remarks from Pope Francis, who highlighted the need for social justice and economic inclusion so that everyone can live in dignity, and a collective responsibility to protect the environment. He also emphasized the need for greater equity, including in global decision-making bodies like the UN Security Council and the financial institutions. The Secretary-General (SG) followed with remarks of his own, calling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development “a promise by leaders to all people everywhere”. He said that this new agenda commits to end poverty in all its forms, conveys the urgency of climate action, is rooted in gender equality and respect for the rights of all, and is a pledge to leave no one behind.

After Shakira performed the song Imagine, Malala Yousafzai appealed to world leaders to promise safe, free and quality primary and secondary education to all children. Representing civil society, Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International, suggested four practical tests to realize the SDGs: ownership, accountability, non-discrimination and coherence.

Below is a non-exhaustive selection of commitments and highlights from the SDG Summit speeches.


China pledged to establish a $2b assistance fund for South-South cooperation, and pledged to increase investment in LDCs to $12b by 2030. China referenced progress on its “Belt and Road Initiative” through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank. China also referred to ongoing discussions underway on a global energy internet to meet global power demand in a sustainable way, as well as a potential international development knowledge center.

Kenya announced that it will host the Second High Level Meeting on the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) in November 2016.

Mexico noted that it will host in 2016 the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, one of the three Rio Conventions.

The UK committed to host a major anti-corruption summit in 2016.

Turkey will host the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016, which will provide an opportunity to assess coherence between financing for development and humanitarian assistance. Turkey will also host a meeting in June 2016 to assess progress on the Istanbul Program of Action for LDCs.

The US said that it was committed to achieving the SDGs. The US also announced new PEPFAR targets:

  • By the end of 2017, PEPFAR will support 12.9m people on life-saving anti-retroviral treatment – nearly a doubling of people on treatment from 2013 to 2017;
  • Provide 13m male circumcisions for HIV prevention; and
  • Reduce HIV incidence by 40% among adolescent girls and young women within the highest burdened areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries.

The Republic of Korea will launch the “Better Life of Girls Initiative” in 2015, providing $200m over five years for health and education for vulnerable girls in developing countries. Korea has also pledged to use its rural development strategy, Saemaul Undong (New Community Movement), to expand financial contributions to developing countries. Korea also supports the GPEDC and plans to join the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) next year.


The SG appealed to member states to adopt a solid and universal agreement on climate change in Paris.

Costa Rica committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2020. Iceland also said that it aims to become carbon neutral, and will continue to support developing countries in harnessing geothermal energy. Brazil pledged to reduce 37% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and 43% by 2030 on 2005 levels.

Sweden expressed a desire to be among the first fossil-free nations, with Swedish companies playing a key role in developing climate-smart innovations. Sweden remains a major donor to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and will continue to give 1%/GNI in ODA.

Fiji and Sweden have partnered to host the first Triennial UN Conference on Oceans & Seas in 2017. The Pacific Island Forum Leaders Declaration on Climate Change Action, developed in Papua New Guinea, articulated expectations for an ambitious, legally binding climate agreement in Paris that recognizes the special circumstances of SIDS and LDCs. Luxembourg supported having no nuclear energy.

South Africa asserted that climate financing should be new and additional to existing ODA levels, and Sudan asked that developed countries commit $100b to the GCF by 2020. Luxembourg expressed a need for diversified financing, challenging donors to reach $100b/year by 2020 for climate finance. Germany pledged to make $100b/year available to developing countries for climate protection.

Gender Equality

Saudi Arabia defined “sex” as meaning only male and female, and “family” as meaning a marriage between a man and a woman. Poland expressed support for traditional family values. The US, with support from many others, countered by saying “one of the best indicators of whether a society will succeed is how it treats its women.” Chile expressed regret that sexual diversity was not included.

Iceland’s parliament has agreed to substantially increase funding for gender equality issues over the next 5 years, half of which will go to supporting measures internationally.

Financing and Means of Implementation

The US asserted that the SDGs will not succeed unless we embrace the full potential of Africa and that investing in the success of Africa will boost the entire global economy. Ghana referenced the problem of brain drain and articulated a need to create more production value in Africa.

Antigua and Barbuda highlighted that the majority of the world’s poorest live in Middle Income Countries (MICs). Suriname supported recognition of the special challenges that MICs face in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and requested the multilateral development banks (MDBs) to explore ways to address these challenges. Costa Rica asserted that “MICs” is an inappropriately-named category.

Japan and India committed to investing in infrastructure. Afghanistan highlighted the need to understand costs and trade-offs to deliver on the agenda. The UK urged companies to invest in developing products for the poorest and to promote sustainability. The UK also urged governments to break down unfair trade barriers, including at the upcoming 2015 WTO Ministerial in Kenya.

World Bank Group President Jim Kim pledged that the MDBs will provide $400b to support sustainable development.

Many countries referred to the global partnership for financing development (including goal 17), and the need for diverse methods of financing. Many developing countries also emphasized the need to apply the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) to the global partnership.

The UK and Liechtenstein noted that they have met, and in some years exceeded, the target of 0.7%/GNI as ODA. Liechtenstein has also given 0.15-0.2%/GNI to LDCs. Germany is committed to reaching the 0.7% target and plans to increase the budget for development cooperation substantially over next few years. Ireland and Spain both pledged to work toward the 0.7% target.

The US noted that financing for development goes beyond government spending, and is also about harnessing the unprecedented resources of our interconnected world. The UK urged countries to focus on tax, trade and transparency. Costa Rica argued that disarmament would allow significant resources to be channeled sustainable development, noting the $1.7t in global military spending in 2014.

Data and Technology

Pakistan articulated the need for credible, realistic data. Trinidad and Tobago highlighted the importance of disaggregation. Samoa agreed that accurate data and statistics, and meaningful and relevant indicators are vital. Cyprus said that that global indicator framework would be critical for the follow-up and review process. Liberia said it is important to ensure that citizens have the means to assess progress and that the data revolution will be important for planning, monitoring and evaluation.

India and El Salvador expressed hope that the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) will become an effective mechanism for global public good. Turkey plans to host the proposed LDC technology bank and mechanism, and is looking forward to the TFM report.


Turkey has placed development at the center of its G20 presidency, prioritizing integration of LDCs into the world economy ensuring close alignment between the G20 agenda and sustainable development efforts. The G20 will discuss its contribution to the SDGs at the Antalya Summit in November 2015.

The Netherlands said that its strong commitment to development is one of the main reasons it is seeking a seat on the UNSC for 2017-2018.

Follow-up and review

Colombia has set up an inter-institutional commission bringing to coordinate on implementation, working methods, evaluation and follow up. Colombia will also be part of a high-level group focused on the SDGs with Brazil, Liberia, Sweden, South Africa, Tanzania, Germany, Tunisia, and Timor-Leste.

In 2016, Germany will be one of first states to report on implementation of its national strategy in the HLPF. With Ghana and Norway, Germany has also asked the SG to set up a high level panel to draw lessons from the Ebola pandemic and ensure more rapid and effective reactions in future situations.

Trinidad and Tobago called for the development of tools to measure and monitor implementation. Liberia said we must set up national processes to integrate the new agenda into local content that will engender national ownership. Kiribati acknowledged that these goals are not new. Most, if not all, are in its national development plans and strategies already, which it acknowledged is true for many countries.

Mexico referred to its national plan as the forum for follow up and review processes, noting that national governments have the primary responsibility when it comes to implementation. Afghanistan and Liechtenstein also agreed that primary responsibility for follow up and review lies with states. Libya and Nigeria defended the importance of respecting national sovereignty and national priorities, appealing to the UN not to impose non-universally agreed concepts. Zimbabwe declared that they will adjust the goals they will implement as more resources become available.


Germany promised to play an active role in the reform of the UN, recognizing a need to adapt to a changing world. Bhutan, Uganda and India, said that to make the UN “Fit for Purpose” India, Japan, Brazil and Germany must be made permanent members in the UNSC, and Africa must also be appropriately represented.

Venezuela articulated a need to reform the global economic model, particularly neo-liberal institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. Zimbabwe agreed that reform of Bretton Woods institutions is long overdue. Guyana argued that a reformed UN development system and a reformed intergovernmental machinery will be needed to enable accountability and course correction.

Pakistan articulated the need for governmental reforms to expand resources, to stop illicit capital flows and to set up monitoring and follow-up mechanisms.

Finally, looking ahead to 2016, Costa Rica voiced support for a female SG.

Full speeches from the Sustainable Development Summit can be found here.

Other SDG Commitments made on the sidelines of UNGA

The Secretary-General announced over $25 billion in commitments to the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, including from 40 governments and over 100 other organizations.

The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data was officially launched on September 28 with support from Canada, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Senegal, the UK, the US, and several non-government partners. Commitments included:

  • Canada will co-host a Centre of Excellence to strengthen civil registration and vital statistics.
  • Kenya offered to host the first World Data Forum in 2016.
  • Mexico, chair of the 2015 OPG Global Summit, will launch a new mechanism for sub-national governments to join the OPG and invest in local-level capacity-building for open data. Leading on the International Open Data Carter and the G20 Open Data Anti-Corruption Principles.
  • UK – £6m to strengthen statistical systems tracking climate change. UK, US and Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Secretariat will organize a 2016 summit.
  • US will join a consortium of funders to support better data collection, analysis and use on issues of health and gender, agriculture, climate, and geography. PEPFAR and MCC will invest $21.8m in global health and gender equality data in sub-Saharan Africa.  

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) adopted the Joint Declaration on Open Government for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, committing to: promoting rule of law consistent with international standards at all levels and in line with Goal 16; promoting public access to timely and disaggregated data on government activities related to SDG implementation; supporting citizen participation in SDG implementation; upholding the principles of open government when defining indicators; and using OGP National Action Plans to adopt commitments.

The US committed to implementing Goal 16 domestically, and referred to it as the essence of the SDGs.

Australia announced a $50m Gender Equality Fund for the Indo-Pacific region, and a $100m Women’s Safety Package to improve domestic support services and educational resources.

Argentina launched the Buenos Aires Plan of Action and Argentinian Fund for South-South Cooperation.

Korea announced $100m to support capacity building in developing countries, and $200m in ODA.

October Must Reads

Nicholas Kristof’s latest op-ed in The New York Times The Most Important Thing, and It’s Almost a Secret candidly admits that in spite of the lack of media coverage about the progress made by the MDGs, the new global goals deserve a lot more attention.

Towfiqul Islam Khan of the Centre for Policy Dialogue discusses Bangladesh’s readiness to monitor the SDGs in his blog: The quest for a new data ecosystem – Monitoring sustainable development in Bangladesh, highlighting important considerations around existing measurement systems and gaps.

Johan Rockström argues that the SDGs are far from utopian in his article on Project Syndicate, Leaving Our Children Nothing. Rockström emphasizes that our generation has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave our children with “no greenhouse-gas emissions, no poverty, and no biodiversity loss.”

In a podcast with Rajesh Mirchandani of the Center for Global Development, What Do the Global Goals Mean for Rich Countries? David Hallam, UK Envoy for the Post-2015 Development Goals, discusses early plans for implementation and what this means for developed countries.

Molly Elgin-Cossart of the Center for American Progress discusses specific actions to bend the curve and end business as usual in addressing inequality in the report Leave No One Behind: Taking Action to Combat Global Poverty and Inequality.

Guido Schmidt-Traub of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) recently published Investment Needs to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals: Understanding the Billions and Trillions, proposing an analytical framework for SDG needs assessments to help frame different investment opportunities.

Susan Nicolai, Chris Hoy, Tom Berliner and Thomas Aedy of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) estimate where the world will be in 15 years in their report Projecting Progress: Reaching the SDGs by 2030. They estimate that the most progress will be made in the areas of ending extreme poverty, increasing economic growth in LDCs, and halting deforestation.

Look Ahead



September Monitor: SDG Summit Preview

Sustainable Development Summit

At the Sustainable Development Summit, world leaders will gather in New York to officially adopt a new sustainable development vision for the next 15 years. For many, this historic moment will represent the culmination of over three years of hard work and negotiations, resulting in the new agenda: Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Adding to the excitement around this year’s momentous UN General Assembly (UNGA) week, the Pope will address the GA on September 25, and is expected to touch on climate change, poverty, terrorism, and the movement of refugees and migrants across the world – all salient issues on the 2030 agenda. Following the Pope’s address to the GA, the Summit will kick off with six interactive thematic dialogues, each co-led by a Head of State or Government.

The schedule is as follows:

25 September

  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Opening plenary meeting
  • 12-3 p.m. Ending poverty and hunger, chaired by the Prime Minister of Slovenia and the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • 3-6 p.m. Tackling inequalities, empowering women and girls and leaving no one behind, chaired by the President of Croatia and the President of Kenya

26 September

  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Plenary meeting
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Fostering sustainable economic growth, transformation and promoting sustainable consumption and production, chaired by the Prime Minister of Belgium and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh
  • 3-6 p.m. Delivering on a revitalized Global Partnership, chaired by the President of Senegal and the Prime Minister of Turkey

27 September

  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Plenary meeting
  • 10 a.m-1 p.m. Building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions to achieve sustainable development,chaired by the President of the Republic of Korea and the President of Chile
  • 2-5 p.m. Protecting our planet and combatting climate change, chaired by the President of France and the President of Peru
  • 3-6 p.m. Closing plenary meeting

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

As a refresher, the 2030 Agenda was agreed by consensus on August 2, 2015. It includes not only the Sustainable Development Goals, based largely on the work of the Open Working Group, but also a political Declaration by Heads of State and Government; a comprehensive framework for financing and implementing the goals; and a sketch for how the world will track and review progress along the way.  In other words, it is a blueprint for changing our world by 2030.

However, many in the UN and policy communities have recognized that the global goals will only have an impact to the extent that citizens around the world are aware of them, and able to hold their political leaders to account. To this end, a campaign has been launched to “Tell everyone” — visit globalgoals.org to take action and to see some inspiring videos and other useful resources.  See below for a series of global advocacy moments this week, as well as a selection of key moments for SDG implementation.

President of the 70th UN General Assembly

H.E. Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark, formerly speaker of Parliament, Foreign and Finance Minister, began his tenure as the 70th President of the General Assembly (PGA) on September 15, 2015. PGA Lykketoft has stated that his focus for the 70th session is to support Member States to implement their ambitious 2030 Agenda through a “New Commitment to Action,”,  taking action on the following priorities:

1) Sustainable Development – advancing implementation of the SDGs and forging progress on the means of implementation;
2) Peace and Security – advancing efforts to strengthen the role and performance of the UN in peace and security issues
3) Human Rights – supporting the integration of human rights into all processes and events, including addressing the refugee crisis and the millions of people affected by disasters; and
4) Good governance of the UN – supporting efforts aimed at improving the overall functioning of the UN, and assisting with advancing the selection process of the next UN Secretary General.

Many have noted that Mr. Lykketoft may play a particularly significant role as PGA, not only due to the consequential decisions the General Assembly will need to make this session to put the world on the right path for implementing the SDGs, but also because of the leadership and transitional role he may play, particularly given the Secretary-General selection in 2016.

Financing for Development and the Addis Outcome

In addition to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, you may recall that member states reached agreement on another major milestone in mid-July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, known as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. This agreement outlined a new global policy framework for financing sustainable development, together with a comprehensive set of concrete policy measures for implementing the SDGs. In addition to traditional sources of development aid and private sector finance, other important commitments in the agreement include:

  • A new social compact to provide social protection and essential public services for all;
  • A global infrastructure forum to bridge the infrastructure gap;
  • Increasing ODA to the Least Developed Countries to 0.2% of national income;
  • A Technology Facilitation Mechanism to advance the SDGs;
  • Enhanced international tax cooperation to assist in raising resources domestically; and
  • Mainstreaming women’s empowerment into financing for development.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development explicitly recognizes the important link between the Addis outcome and the 2030 Agenda, noting that the Addis Agreement will be integral to implementing the goals and targets.  This was significant as the policy commitments made in Addis build on many of the Means of Implementation (Goal 17) targets in the SDGs, and in many cases, go further in terms of ambition and detail.

Of course, reaching agreement on this was just a first step; the real work begins now to turn words into action. But 193 countries reaching consensus on such an ambitious and comprehensive package was no small political feat and should not be underestimated. These important agreements reached in 2015 will lay the groundwork for much of the hard work to come.

Sustainable Development Issues to be Fleshed Out

While we celebrate the outcome and look to lay the groundwork for implementation, a few critical issues remain to be addressed over the next several months, and we expect them to come up on the sidelines this UNGA:

Follow up and Review: The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is mandated as the main UN platform for following up on SDG progress. This means that while various local and national-level reviews will take place in country, the HLPF will be the global apex of all of these reviews – providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations. Throughout the negotiations, there was disagreement over how prescriptive the outcome document should be in mapping out the follow up and review process; many wanted to flesh out the specifics of the architecture later, leaving more room for flexibility. As a result, significant work remains on this piece. Some governments are concerned about putting undue reporting burdens on government ministries that are already stretched thin. Another concern is to ensure that reporting draws on existing processes wherever possible, so as to maintain coherence, rather than producing a series of disjointed reports.

Generally, many governments and experts agree on broad principles for follow up and review: a bottom-up approach with national and local ownership that is transparent, inclusive of a wide range of stakeholders, and informed by timely, reliable and disaggregated data.

  • A challenge will be getting the incentives right so that governments will participate at a high-level, and perceive the review process as a constructive place for peer learning and exchanging ideas.
  • One important question to consider as we head into 2016 is how do we strike the right balance between specificity and flexibility? Governments want the space to monitor and report as they see fit, but there also needs to be some level of comparability to inspire a sense of a “race to the top”.
  • How can we ensure that civil society and other independent stakeholders are able to contribute and feed into official monitoring and review? Are there models of shadow reporting to learn from?

Indicators: Member States asked the UN Statistical Commission to develop the global indicators that will become part of the SDGs along with the goals and targets. The Commission established an Inter-Agency Expert Group made up of country representatives from national statistical offices to develop a set of global indicators that will be consistently monitored across countries, with the understanding that additional national and regional indicators should be defined by countries based on their own needs and unique circumstances.

Following two rounds of open consultation and several revised lists of indicators, the next version should be available the week of September 21 for a final round of input prior to the next Inter-Agency Group meeting at the end of October. The final list of indicators is expected in November, for approval by the Statistical Commission in March 2016.

Governments have repeatedly emphasized that the indicators should not reinterpret the goals and targets or undermine their integrity. However, given that there was tension over the number and specificity of the targets throughout the negotiations, the indicator process may be the last battleground to play out these political differences.

  • One important consideration is whether the indicators are constructed based on the best available evidence and reflect the best technical thinking in each goal area. Leveraging a strong evidence base can help guard against the possibility of narrow political agendas being advanced through the indicators.
  • Another major flashpoint has been around the number of global indicators. Some argue that any more than 100-120 is too many for national statistical systems to handle, particularly in Least Developed Countries, and suggest that some indicators could serve multiple targets. Others are concerned that having indicators do double-duty would diminish the focus on some targets, and argue that the decision should not be driven by numbers but by what needs to be measured. If the final outcome includes upwards of 200-300 indicators, there will be outstanding questions around how countries will report annually and how to ensure meaningful global reporting that focuses on the areas of greatest concern.

The role of Data: Another trend to keep an eye on this UNGA is the role of data quality, accessibility and usability for SDG implementation. On September 28, over 50 partners from governments, the UN and multilateral organizations, civil society, academia, the private sector and philanthropy will launch the Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data (see details attached). The 2030 Agenda and the Addis Agreement recognize that data will be essential to achieving the SDGs – that we need more and better data across all sectors and on the most vulnerable to ensure that no one is left behind.  The partnership aims to help address this challenge by mobilizing and sustaining resources, connecting people, institutions and initiatives and breaking down barriers between them, building trust around data sharing, and bringing people together to solve problems related to data gaps, access, and use.

ECOSOC Dialogues and UN Fit for Purpose: A final outstanding challenge is whether the UN system itself is prepared to implement the SDGs, and how it should organize itself going forward for maximum impact. This question is being actively discussed in the UN, through a series of ECOSOC dialogues on the Future of the UN Development System. Specifically, member states and the UN have identified six critical areas for action:

  1. Integrated policy support at all levels;
  2. A better pool of resources (i.e. by bringing together development and humanitarian financing where it makes sense);
  3. Driving forward and implementing the data revolution;
  4. Taking a more systemic, system-wide approach to assessing risk and promoting resilience;
  5. Making the UN more consultative not only with civil society but also with the private sector, parliamentarians and other stakeholders; and
  6. Increasing transparency, including on financial and human resources.

The UN is also exploring how it can improve the effectiveness of the UN development system and be “fit for purpose” in the service of the SDGs.

Must Reads for September

For the latest news and coverage of the SDGs, be sure to check out GlobalDaily.org.

Global Advocacy Moments around UN Sustainable Development Summit

Under One Sky

Thursday, September 24, 6:00 – 7:30 pm | Dag Hammarskjold Plaza | Hosted by action/2015

Following events taking place across the world (planned in nearly 100 countries with action/2015 partners), this event will mobilize thousands of people, building on the concept of “light the way” to the new global goals, “light the way” to end poverty. More information here.

Project Everyone

Saturday, September 26 – Friday, October 2 | Everywhere

The SDG awareness campaign aims to share the global goals with 7 billion people in 7 days. Project Everyone’s mission is to get a short, dynamic and snappy explanation of the global goals onto every website, TV station, cinema, school, radio station, newspaper, magazine, billboard, newsletter, noticeboard, pinboard, milk carton and mobile phone. More information here.

Global Citizen Festival

Saturday, September 26, 2:00 – 10:00 pm | Great Lawn, Central Park | Hosted by Global Poverty Project

The Global Citizen Festival is a critical lever for achieving policy and financial commitments that will shape the success of the Global Goals over the next 15 years. This year’s concert will feature Pearl Jam, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and the launch of Project Everyone. More information here

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