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New goals for more sustainable development worldwide

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted at the UN Sustainability Summit of Heads of State and Government in New York on 25 September 2015, is a milestone in international cooperation. The adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) marks the first time that the international community agreed on an universal catalogue of fixed time-specific targets covering all three dimensions of sustainability. These targets will play a key role in international cooperation in core policy fields in the next decades.

The objective of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to make global development sustainable on a social, ecological and economic level and in doing so substantially boost the long overdue transformation of global economies towards a much more sustainable and inclusive development. Climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty, hunger and economic practices often involve high resource consumption, thus proving that we need to steer the planet in a new direction. The 2030 Agenda is specifically based on the intention to take on board even the weakest and most vulnerable (leave no one behind) and it seeks to secure opportunities for future generations to live a fulfilled life.

During an international preparation process lasting more than three years, a globally-oriented Agenda universally applicable to all countries and containing ambitious sustainable development goals was drafted. The Federal Environment Ministry and Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation together with the German government worked successfully for the adoption of an ambitious 2030 Agenda that will advance political, economic and social changes towards sustainable development both globally and nationally.

The 2030 Agenda brings two UN negotiation processes together which were previously separate, namely the Rio process launched at the Earth Summit in 1992 and the Millennium Development Goals. These processes have now been merged together under the heading "Transforming our World".

Transformative goals for more sustainable development

In July 2014, after 18 months of work, the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals presented a catalogue of sustainable development goals with sub-targets which was geared towards 2030. These goals address all three dimensions of sustainable development: social, environmental and economic. The catalogue of goals comprises ending poverty and hunger, protecting and restoring ecosystems, conserving our oceans, promoting sustainable economic growth and ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. These goals are aimed at improving living conditions and protecting natural resources worldwide. The German government has seen to it that among other things major challenges such as resource efficiency and environment-friendly economic practices are linked to targets for 2030.

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The German government drafted a proposal for key political messages, which it put forward in the negotiations together with the EU in a slightly amended form. The five key political messages (the 5 Ps) in the Preamble are based on this EU proposal and they succinctly summarise the objectives of the 2030 Agenda using an action-based approach:

People - We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.

Planet - We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.

Prosperity - We are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.

Peace - We are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.

Partnership - We are determined to mobilize the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focussed in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.

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Global partnership for a transformative agenda

The international community is implementing the global SDGs of the 2030 Agenda in a new global partnership. This partnership is characterised by universal goals, common responsibility of all countries, monitoring, review and involvement of all stakeholders, including from industry and civil society.

The SDGs of the 2030 Agenda are applicable to all countries regardless of whether they are industrialised countries, emerging economies or developing countries and cover all areas of policy. Countries set their national contributions in accordance with their resources and level of ambition. All countries and stakeholders hold joint responsibility for global well-being. This includes, in particular, areas which must be jointly cared for by the global community such as climate, biodiversity, protection of natural resources, peace and security.

A monitoring mechanism will show the progress made by the international community towards achieving these goals at any given point in time. Monitoring takes place regularly and in a transparent manner within the UN high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF). Here governments report on a voluntary basis on the progress they have achieved in implementing the 2030 Agenda. In 2016 Germany was among the first countries in the HLPF to report on the first steps taken by its government to implement the Agenda. The SDGs can only be achieved by 2030 if they are seen as a joint task by governments, industry and civil society throughout the world.

Report of the German Federal Government

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The road towards the UN sustainable development summit

Government negotiations on the 2030 Agenda were held at monthly intervals in New York between January and August 2015 in the run-up to the UN summit in September 2015. Alongside the catalogue of goals and global partnership, focus during negotiations was on funding and measures for implementing the agenda, the formulation of a political statement and of a preamble with key political messages. The 2030 Agenda outcome document “Transforming our World” was published on 2 August and was adopted by acclamation. For the first time, there is a universally applicable plan of action with concrete goals for sustainable development which address the eradication of poverty and environmental aspects in a balanced manner. The landmark agenda was officially adopted by the heads of state and government of the UN member states during the UN summit on sustainable development in New York from 25 to 27 September 2015.

The Third International Conference on Financing for Development was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2015. The outcomes of the conference are an integral part of the 2030 Agenda.

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Germany's contribution

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also applies to Germany. To be a credible partner for the implementation of the SDGs, we need to clearly define our part in achieving these goals both in Germany and internationally.

The 2016 revision of the government-wide "German National Sustainable Development Strategy", adopted in January 2017, sets out concrete implementation measures for the 17 SDGs. The revised sustainability strategy makes it clear that all 17 SDGs also apply to an industrialised country like Germany.

At international level, the German government is also working hard to advance the implementation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda. To this end, the Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Ministry for Development Cooperation launched the initiative “Partners for Review”, a network of actors from politics, civil society, the scientific community and industry who are involved in the national reporting procedure on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The purpose of the initiative is to boost a demand-driven exchange on new and upcoming challenges in SDG reporting, the follow-up process and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and to trigger a dialogue on joint challenges in the development of national monitoring schemes. Topics to be discussed in this format include in particular the coordination of different national bodies, the involvement of partners, the strengthening of national review mechanisms and the compilation of data for national monitoring and follow-up processes. The aim is to initiate a thorough exchange of experience on these issues and help prepare the voluntary national implementation reports within the HLPF framework. The second meeting of the Partners-for-Review Network was organised together with the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and took place in Bogotá, Colombia on 27 and 28 March 2017.

Furthermore, through its International Climate Initiative, the Federal Environment Ministry is also contributing globally to preserving the natural foundations of life, implementing more sustainable life styles and transforming economies towards environmentally sounder practices with drastically reduced greenhouse gas emissions through its international Climate Initiative.

International Climate Initiative

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At the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September 2010, the UN General Assembly called for the creation of a development agenda for the period after 2015. In this context, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Conference) in 2012 issued two mandates (among others); the first that an open working group draw up a report by September 2014 with concrete proposals for sustainable development goals and the second that a committee of experts on sustainable development financing draw up a report with proposals on how to approach sustainable development financing. The Rio+20 Conference decided on the preparation of the post-2015 development agenda - a system of universally applicable goals for all countries addressing aspects of development and sustainability thus combining the Rio process and the process on Millennium Development Goals. The post-2015 agenda was renamed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the conclusion of intergovernmental negotiations on 2 August 2015.

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Last update: 04.08.2017

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Further information

High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Brochure "Committed to Biodiversity"