World Vision's commentary on the Open Working Group's proposed Sustainable Development Goals

World Vision celebrates the achievement of the Open Working Group (OWG) in finalising its proposed Sustainable Development Goals. The OWG members have demonstrated a willingness to negotiate in good faith with a clear goal in mind: to articulate a global vision for the achievement of sustainable development.

Of paramount importance, the proposal captures the world’s ambition to finish the job that was started in the Millennium Development Goals – to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. By stating that this includes the most vulnerable men, women and children wherever they may live and by setting targets accordingly, the proposal goes beyond the MDGs to reach out to the world’s very poorest and most vulnerable people, who were missed in 2000.

Critically, in pursuing this ambition the proposal identifies several critical new themes, most significant among which are responding to climate change, reducing inequality, reducing violence and promoting peace. Establishing global targets in these areas is a significant step forward.

Taken as a whole the framework is a detailed articulation of an ambitious global development agenda. It should be noted however that it falls short of presenting a fully integrated vision to inspire the next generation of development. Some of the themes are also insufficiently articulated. While no framework can address everything, missing some elements may compromise the potential effectiveness of the whole framework.

This is evident in how World Vision’s priority issues – those that we see as essential to reach the most vulnerable children – have been addressed. Each is prominently addressed but falls short in critical areas:

Maternal, newborn and child health; and nutrition and food security: Welcome is the commitment to finish the job started in the MDGs and determination to eliminate preventable death. But nutrition, the cause of almost half the deaths in children under five, is not mentioned in the health goal and links between the health and nutrition goals have not been made. This misses an opportunity to draw these themes together and undermines the likely success of the health goal overall.

Violence against children: The report acknowledges violence against children as a truly universal problem that fundamentally undermines the chances for human progress, stability and sustainable development. Restricting the focus on gender based violence to girls is, however, a mistake in our view. Boys experience gender based violence and are critical partners in ensuring cycles of violence are to be broken and gender equality achieved.

Peace: By including a peace goal that addresses several drivers of conflict the OWG has added to the global consensus that peace and sustainable development are inseparable. But beyond the peace goal, the proposal falls short. Conflict is not recognised as one of the most challenging development contexts. Opportunities to address the cross cutting nature of peace are not taken, and existing global peace frameworks – the New Deal and its Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals – have not been referenced.

We look forward to the opportunity to continue to address these challenges in the formal negotiation of the post-2015 agenda. They do not take away from the OWG’s achievement in giving the world a detailed framework that will be one of the most important inputs to those negotiations. World Vision looks forward to partnering with others to produce a framework that:

  1. Finishes the job started in the MDGs, and goes further to assure a sustainable future for all.

  2. Peserves the OWG’s recognition that people are at the centre of sustainable  development, so that we can work towards a world that is “just, equitable and inclusive”.

  3. Contains a robust plan for the implementation of the goals.  Two features we think are most critical are: 

    a) Citizen engagement; World Vision is calling for locally led and transparent mechanisms for monitoring progress and ensuring accountability.

    b) A clear approach to enabling cross-sector partnerships applicable across all the goals to enable delivery at scale and speed.

  4. Recognises conflict as one of the most significant drivers of poverty.