Are we ready for a ‘universal’ development agenda?
Thursday, August 6, 2015
In the same week U.S. presidential candidates take aim at each other for the first time on the debate stage, negotiators from 193 U.N. member states reached consensus on the sustainable development agenda that world leaders will meet to adopt at September’s U.N. General Assembly in New York.
After more than two years of negotiation and deliberation, the post-2015 agenda — covering 17 sustainable development goals and 169 individual indicators — is unabashedly ambitious. The first goal, for example, is “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” The second? “End hunger.”
The sustainable development agenda is something else too: universal. It is meant to apply to developing and developed countries alike. And with so much ambition on the table, the post-2015 agenda could raise some tricky questions about living standards, environmental sustainability, and what exactly rich countries like the United States are agreeing to do over the next 15 years.
Any discussion of global goals, especially those determined and championed by the United Nations, risks raising hackles within America’s polarized political atmosphere. It’s worth wondering whether anxieties about global governance and national sovereignty might throw a wrench in the gears of U.S. support for the SDG launch and implementation process.
Indicators associated with goal 10, which deals with reducing inequality, venture into territory that is full of political minefields in the U.S. and other rich countries. Target 10.7, for example, directs signatories to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.”