Globalizing Sustainable Development

After two years spent defining the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the focus in the next 12 months must be on how to achieve them. Three ingredients will be essential to set the world on a more sustainable path that will eradicate poverty and enhance prosperity for all: financing mechanisms, trade, and partnerships.

WASHINGTON, DC – The question of how the world can end extreme poverty and improve human wellbeing will take on new urgency in 2015, as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire and a new set of goals – the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – are finalized.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “Synthesis Report,” outlining the main elements of the post-2015 agenda, provides strong guidance regarding what sustainable development should look like and what world leaders must do over the next 15 years to achieve it. After two years of crafting the “what” of sustainable development, the year ahead must focus on how to get it done.

The central ambition is bold: the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030. To make that happen, the SDGs will need to shift away from the twentieth-century model of development, in which rich countries gave money to poor countries, mostly to feed the hungry and improve health and education. The MDGs were remarkably successful in several of these areas. But the picture has changed significantly since then. A new set of emerging economies – including China, India, Brazil, and South Africa – is racing to modernize. The private sector is assuming a greater role in economic development. And environmental degradation is threatening the gains of recent decades.

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