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On 11 December 2014, the House of Lords is scheduled to debate the following motion:

“that this House takes note of the case for establishing new global development goals in 2015”

In 2001, UN member states adopted eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at eradicating poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, improving health, and ensuring environmental sustainability. The goals were underpinned by a number of targets, most of which had a deadline of 2015. Several of the targets have already been met—most notably, the number of people living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.25 a day) has halved—but further improvements are still needed in many of the areas targeted by the MDGs.

The international community began work several years ago on developing a new framework of goals to replace the MDGs after the 2015 deadline. From September 2014, work on this “post-2015 development agenda” was brought together with a separate strand of work begun under the Rio+20 process to draw up a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs). It is expected that after a period of intergovernmental negotiation, one set of global goals will be adopted at a high-level UN summit in September 2015.

The UN General Assembly has adopted a proposed set of goals drawn up by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development (OWG) as the “main basis” for integrating sustainable development goals into the post-2015 development agenda. However, the OWG proposals have attracted some criticism for lacking a clear purpose and for including too many goals and targets. The UK Government would prefer to see no more than ten to twelve goals, compared to the 17 currently proposed by the OWG. The task of the intergovernmental process over the forthcoming year will be to achieve global consensus on both an overall framework and on individual goals. Efforts are also underway to bring about a ‘data revolution’ to improve the collection of the data used to monitor progress against the post-2015 targets.

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