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In 2000, the global community signed up to the Millennium Development Goals, a set of international goals for human development. As the 2015 deadline for these goals approaches, attention has turned to what will replace them. In July 2012, the UN Secretary-General established a High-level Panel (HLP) to explore the ‘Post-2015 Development Agenda’. UK Prime Minister David Cameron co-chaired this process.

The HLP presented its report on the nature of the post-2015 development framework in June 2013. Their findings have been taken up by an Open Working Group, which has been tasked with integrating the MDG successor goals with a separate process to establish a set of ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ based on the ‘Rio Principles’ of protecting the integrity of the global environmental and developmental system. A UN System Task Team, and a series of public consultations, are also assessing what should be included within the post-2015 framework.

On 2 June 2014, the Open Working Group published a ‘zero draft’ of 17 new goals. Reactions to the draft have centred on the degree to which they learn from mistakes made with the MDGs, and how effectively they grapple with new and emerging global challenges that have arisen since the MDGs were formulated in 2000 (for example, urbanisation, the global financial crisis, and climate change).

Formal inter-governmental negotiations on the draft goals will be launched at the beginning of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2014. Key issues for the remaining negotiations include: which draft goals remain in the final draft, and what needs still to be added; the inclusion of civil society within the process; striking the balance between making the goals sufficiently universal; ensuring consistency with national priorities and targets; and formulating an effective monitoring process for the goals.

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