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From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable ...

Viewpoint From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals Je rey D Sachs Lancet 2012; 379: 2206 11 The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mark a high-level global sustainability panel, appointed in the Earth institute , Columbia historic and e ective method of global mobilisation to lead-up to the Rio+20 summit in June, 2012, has issued a University, New York, NY, USA achieve a set of important social priorities worldwide. report recommending that the world adopt a set of (Prof J D Sachs PhD). They express widespread public concern about poverty, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This spring, Correspondence to: hunger, disease, unmet schooling, gender inequality, and Secretary-General Ban indicated that after the Rio+20.

Viewpoint 2206 www.thelancet.com Vol 379 June 9, 2012 Lancet 2012; 379: 2206–11 Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA (Prof J D Sachs PhD) Correspondence to:

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1 Viewpoint From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals Je rey D Sachs Lancet 2012; 379: 2206 11 The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mark a high-level global sustainability panel, appointed in the Earth institute , Columbia historic and e ective method of global mobilisation to lead-up to the Rio+20 summit in June, 2012, has issued a University, New York, NY, USA achieve a set of important social priorities worldwide. report recommending that the world adopt a set of (Prof J D Sachs PhD). They express widespread public concern about poverty, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This spring, Correspondence to: hunger, disease, unmet schooling, gender inequality, and Secretary-General Ban indicated that after the Rio+20.

2 Prof Je rey D Sachs, Earth institute , Columbia University, environmental degradation. By packaging these priorities summit he plans to appoint a high-level panel to consider New York, NY 10027, USA into an easily understandable set of eight Goals , and the details of post-2015 Goals , with UK Prime Minister by establishing measurable and timebound objectives, David Cameron, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang the MDGs help to promote global awareness, political Yudhoyono, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf For more on the report by the accountability, improved metrics, social feedback, and as co-chairs. One scenario is that the Rio+20 summit will High-level Panel on Global public pressures.

3 As described by Bill Gates, the MDGs endorse the idea of the SDGs, and world leaders will adopt Sustainability see http://www. have become a type of global report card for the ght them at a special session of the UN General Assembly to against poverty for the 15 years from 2000 to 2015. As review the MDGs in September, 2013. with most report cards, they generate incentives to The SDGs are an important idea, and could help nally improve performance, even if not quite enough incen- to move the world to a Sustainable trajectory. The detailed tives for both rich and poor countries to produce a global content of the SDGs, if indeed they do emerge in class of straight-A students.

4 Upcoming diplomatic processes, is very much up for Developing countries have made substantial progress discussion and debate. Their content, I believe, should towards achievement of the MDGs, although the progress focus on two considerations: global priorities that need is highly variable across Goals , countries, and regions. active worldwide public participation, political focus, and Mainly because of startling economic growth in China, quantitative measurement; and lessons from the MDGs, developing countries as a whole have cut the poverty rate especially the reasons for their successes, and corrections by half between 1990 and 2010. Some countries will achieve of some of their most important shortcomings.

5 I have all or most of the MDGs, whereas others will achieve very served Secretaries-General Ko Annan and Ban Ki-Moon few. By 2015, most countries will have made meaningful as Special Advisor on the MDGs, and look forward to progress towards most of the Goals . Moreover, for more contributing to the SDGs as well. The following sugges- than a decade, the MDGs have remained a focus of global tions, which I make solely in my personal capacity, policy debates and national policy planning. They have include priorities for the SDGs and the best ways to build become incorporated into the work of non-governmental on the MDG successes and lessons. organisations and civil society more generally, and are taught to students at all levels of education.

6 Why SDGs? The probable shortfall in achievement of the MDGs is The idea of the SDGs has quickly gained ground because indeed serious, regrettable, and deeply painful for people of the growing urgency of Sustainable Development for with low income. The shortfall represents a set of the entire world. Although speci c de nitions vary, operational failures that implicate many stakeholders, Sustainable Development embraces the so-called triple in both poor and rich countries. Promises of o cial bottom line approach to human wellbeing. Almost all Development assistance by rich countries, for example, the world's societies acknowledge that they aim for a have not been kept.

7 Combination of economic Development , environmental Nonetheless, there is widespread feeling among policy sustainability, and social inclusion, but the speci c makers and civil society that progress against poverty, objectives di er globally, between and within societies. hunger, and disease is notable; that the MDGs have Certainly, as yet, no consensus regarding the tradeo s played an important part in securing that progress; and and synergies across the economic, environmental, and that globally agreed Goals to ght poverty should continue social objectives has been agreed. Still, a shared focus on beyond 2015. In a world already undergoing dangerous economic, environmental, and social Goals is a hallmark climate change and other serious environmental ills, of Sustainable Development and represents a broad there is also widespread understanding that worldwide consensus on which the world can build.

8 Environmental objectives need a higher pro le alongside The urgency of the triple bottom line arises from a new the poverty-reduction objectives. realisation brought to global awareness by earth science For these reasons, the world's governments seem poised and the yearly changes around us. The world has entered a to adopt a new round of global Goals to follow the 15 year new era, indeed a new geological epoch, in which human MDG period. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's activity has come to play a central and threatening part in 2206 Vol 379 June 9, 2012. Viewpoint fundamental earth dynamics. Global economic growth per high-fertility settings should be empowered to adopt person, now led by the emerging economies, and a still- rapid and voluntary reductions of fertility to bene t burgeoning population that reached 7 billion last year (and themselves, their children, and the local and global that is expected to reach 8 billion by 2024) are combining to economy and environment.

9 Put unprecedented stress on the earth's ecosystems. The combination of a rising world population and Following the lead of Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen, one of rapidly rising incomes per person in large emerging the discoverers of the chemistry behind stratospheric economies such as China and India suggests that the ozone depletion, scientists have quickly adopted the new demand for food grains and feed grains will continue to term Anthropocene to denote the human-driven age of the increase, ampli ed by rising meat consumption in the planet. A closely related notion is termed planetary emerging economies, against a backdrop of around boundaries the idea that human activity is pushing 1 billion people who are already chronically hungry, mainly crucial global ecosystem functions past a dangerous in Africa and south Asia.

10 In the past two decades, many of threshold, beyond which the earth might well encounter the key yield-raising technologies of the green revolution abrupt, highly non-linear, and potentially devastating have run their course; increases in productivity of food and outcomes for human wellbeing and life generally. feed grains have slowed worldwide. A substantial share of The present era is distinguished by the fact that these US maize production has been diverted into biofuel. pressures are both global and local, and that they impinge Increased grain production is increasingly di cult, and simultaneously on several di erent crucial earth sys- threatens continued destruction of natural habitats, tems, including the carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles.


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