Sustainable Development Goals – can we afford them?


Sustainable Development Goals

After tense negotiations, 193 countries have agreed the next set of development goals, which will seek to end poverty, achieve gender equality and ensure food security in every corner of the globe by 2030.(The Guardian)

“This is the people’s agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, after the targets were agreed on Sunday.

The new targets have been debated by civil society and UN member states for more than two years. The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which contain 169 targets, will replace the millennium development goals (MDGs), which expire at the end of the year. Implementation of the sustainable development agenda will begin on 1 January 2016.

The SDG targets must now be formally adopted by member states at a special UN summit from 25-27 September in New York. The UN said more than 150 world leaders are expected to attend.

Included in the final text of the SDG outcome document (pdf) are plans to ensure access to water and sanitation, reduce economic inequality and take urgent action to fight climate change. “We are resolved to free the human race within this generation from the tyranny of poverty and want, and to heal and secure our planet for the present and for future generations,” the outcome document said.

“In order for the SDGs to be met, implementation and financing plans must address inequalities and human rights, especially for women and girls. The financing plan being advocated by the US and other northern countries will merely uphold the world we have and not get us to the world we want,” said Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity.

The UN has estimated that the new goals could cost as much as $172.5tn (£110.67tn) over the 15-year timeframe.

So perhaps it is the lack of funds that could ensure that the SDGs are never met?

Can countries afford to reduce poverty, ensure everyone has access to clean water, basic health facilities and a quality education?

It all depends on priorities….

Present priority for spending – weapons, armies and war mongering  – just 10% of one year’s military spending would pay for the whole 15 year plan to meet the SDG’s.

$1.756 trillion -global military spending for one year (SIPRI 2013)

Can we change these priorities? What would it take to put another  10% tax on weapons research and production? Would it be worth it?


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