A Global Development Policy The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an international set of goals, targets and indicators which are currently in negotiation at the United Nations (UN). In September 2015 the UN will agree on the final version and all UN member states will be expected to use the SDGs to frame their political agendas and policies in the coming 15 years. This is why the SDGs are an important global core development policy. The SDGs are the next generation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed by governments in 2000. The MDGs expire at the end of 2015, and the new SDGs are meant to expand and substantiate the goals and targets, to make them more concrete, achievable and sustainable.
Why do we need the SDGs? The MDGs were a first important step and focal point for governments to orient their policies and overseas aid programmes to end poverty and improve the lives of poor people. In this role they have also become a powerful tool for aid givers, NGOs and the people to hold the governments to account. But the MDGs have been criticised for being too narrow and leaving out many people and their needs, like mental health. The SDGs are supposed to be more inclusive and sustainable, and, as the UN secretary demanded in December 2014, to "leave no one behind". However, mental health is hardly mentioned in the draft SDG Health goal 3 and targets. By neglecting mental health, the SDGs risk to leave millions of people behind in global development.
The UN SDG Process The SDG process was initiated in 2012 at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro. The UN General Assembly's Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG) was created and commissioned to make a draft set of goals. In July 2014, the OWG presented a proposal of the SDGs to the UN General Assembly. The SDG draft contains 17 goals and 169 targets covering a wide range of development issues, ranging from ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting the environement. Early in December 2014, the UN Secretary-General submitted his Synthesis Report to the General Assembly and the UN agreed that the OWG draft would be the basis for the post-2015 SDG process. Currently the UN member states are negotiating the final draft of the SDG goals and targets, and the indicators to measure them. In September 2015 the UN is expected to agree on the final SDGs at a UN summit in New York. The SDGs will then come into force from January 2016 and guide international development policies until 2030.