Universal Sustainability Goals as Part of a Post-2015 Agenda

Blog by Jens Martens, writing on the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change site.

“The debates on an agenda for international co-operation and development beyond 2015 offer the opportunity to (re-)address holistic concepts of prosperity and progress in societies. Given the economic, social and ecological challenges in the world, this is urgently needed.

The present framework of international development goals centering on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the related strategies does not provide adequate answers to the global problems, be they accelerated global warming, the growing gap between rich and poor or the further spreading of the shadow financial system. Given these problems a future development agenda focusing only on poor countries and not on the rich ones is inadequate.

This does not mean such an agenda should prescribe top-down identical goals, responsibilities and political recipes following a one-size-fits-all approach. A future development agenda ought to be based on common principles providing for a differentiation of countries according to their economic performance, social needs and ecological responsibilities. Similarly, the agenda ought to contain a differentiated catalogue of political commitments. Embedded between the general principles and the political implementation measures, Universal Sustainability Goals would be an essential albeit one element of the Post-2015 Agenda.

An integrated system of Universal Sustainability Goals

Universal Sustainability Goals should capture a holistic development approach, as it is reflected, for instance, in the scope of the Millennium Declaration. They should be universally valid, i.e. for all countries of the world (and not only the “developing countries”); consider regional, national and sub-national differences; do not fall short of codified human rights, including the economic, social and cultural rights; address the planetary boundaries; and define desired results, necessary (financial) resources, formulas for burden sharing, and user rights. They should be based on meaningful indicators of socioeconomic disparities using alternative ways to measure well-being and societal progress beyond GDP.”

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