UN Sustainable Development Summit Adopts 2030 Agenda and New Set of Goals
September 29, 2015  //  By:   //  Blog Post, Featured  //  No Comment

On September 27th, 2015 the United Nations concluded the Sustainable Development Summit, a key event in this year’s General Assembly. This planetary meeting marked the 70th anniversary of the organization and also served as framework for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. The new agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 supporting targets. It also defines specific means of implementation, the establishment of a Global Partnership, and a framework for follow-up and review of implementation.

These elements are the results of the intergovernmental negotiations that took place from March 2013 to August 2015. After the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 established the mandate for the SDGs, the UN created additional processes to define a new post-2015 development agenda, built up from the framework and results achieved by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established in 2000. Under the principles of dignity, people, prosperity, planet, justice, and partnership, eight scheduled sessions of intergovernmental negotiations took place to prepare the outcome that was adopted last week; these included specific dialogues with major groups and stakeholders. The main idea was to reaffirm the commitments to development and to the Rio principles, taking into account different national circumstances, capacities, and priorities. The single framework of the SDGs includes a set of goals that are universal in nature and applicable to all countries (including those that are high-income), and that promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality, and human rights for all.


The Sustainable Development Goals include:

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (read our Issue Brief on that topic here)
  • Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development


During the Sustainable Development Summit, 160 Heads of State and Government and 30 ministers, along with 9,000 delegates representing governments, international organizations and civil society participated on plenary sessions and six interactive dialogues:


  • Ending poverty and hunger
  • Tackling inequalities, empowering women and girls and leaving no one behind
  • Fostering sustainable economic growth and transformation and promoting sustainable consumption and production
  • Protecting our Planet and Combatting Climate Change
  • Building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions
  • A strengthened global partnership for realizing the post-2015 development agenda


GA Summit

At the opening ceremony, participants highlighted the need to define the financial mechanisms to support SDGs implementation.. They also stressed that the success of the agenda hinges on the ability of governments and international organizations to address inequality in the different policy areas. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon emphasized the role of the SDGs as instruments for success in sustainable development and the need for financial and institutional support. As part of the ceremony, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen from Denmark called for the adoption of UN General Assembly document A/70/L.1, “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” that led to the adoption of the new agenda of “Global Goals.”

Through the different sessions, Heads of State and Government and other dignitaries addressed the plenary, highlighting not only the importance of achieving the goals, but also of mobilizing finance, providing support for vulnerable, conflict-affected states and other special groups of countries, and the need to learn from global and national experiences in the implementation of the MDGs. Countries also reinforced the importance of strengthening national ownership by adapting SDGs to national and regional contexts. Many speakers also recognized the broad consultative process by which the goals were developed and the need to engage actors at the national level to ensure country ownership for implementation.

Other events and bilateral meetings took place alongside the summit, including some key sessions organized by UN agencies and initiatives, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to discuss the concepts, plans of action and monitoring mechanisms for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Next steps in the process of the 2030 agenda include the definition of specific indicators to monitor progress in the goals and targets established by the SDGs and addressing the existing linkages between the global challenges addressed by the goals.

A delegation from the Center for Governance and Sustainability participated in the UN Sustainable Development Summit in its capacity as civil society organization registered to the UN system. As a research organization, we are interested not only in sustainability issues, but also in how social and natural scientists can better engage with decision-makers and create an effective science-policy interface. As Lubchenco et al note in a recent commentary in Nature Geoscience, “Scientists can directly contribute to many of the social goals of the SDGs through inclusive and equitable scholarship practices, and engagement with users of knowledge, with attention to capacity-building in developing countries.”

For more information on the events and outcomes of this event click here.

Gabriela Bueno co-authored this article.

About the Author :

Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy joined the GEG team in September 2011as a research assistant for the UMass Center of Governance and Sustainability. Natalia graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2005 and its currently a PhD Student in the Global Governance and Human Security program at UMass Boston

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