Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 mark new stage in international cooperation

With the signing of the 2030 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, international cooperation has entered a new stage. As the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York drew to a close on Sunday, 193 countries had committed to the 17 new Goals.

‘The new Global Goals for 2030 are wide-ranging and meaningful,’ says Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen. ‘The chief goal is to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide within the next fifteen years. We can do it. But only if everyone plays their part and we all work together.’

The United Nations’ new Global Goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals, are a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) drafted in 2000. Since then, world poverty has halved, the number of children attending primary school has risen to 90 per cent, infant mortality rates have halved, the spread of malaria and TB has been brought to a halt and 2.3 billion people have gained access to clean drinking water.

MDGs have been effective

The minister believes that the MDGs have been effective – even though they haven’t all been achieved. ‘That makes us confident that the Global Goals will be achieved. They are a firm commitment. That means that citizens and interest groups alike can call on their governments to do what they have agreed. Countries that fall short will be taken to task. What’s more, the Goals are also endorsed by major institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF.’

A theme that cuts across the Goals is reduction of inequality – both between and within countries. Between 1990 and 2010 income inequality in developing countries increased by 11 per cent. ‘For me that is a major issue,’ says Ms Ploumen. ‘We need to do much more to ensure that we reach the most vulnerable people and countries.’

Getting the private sector involved

The new Goals not only require solidarity between countries, but countries also need to take a critical look at themselves and focus more attention on the poorest people and on issues like women’s rights and anticorruption.

The Global Goals will be financed from various sources. Traditional development cooperation funds will be used, but developing countries will also have to generate more funds, for example through a more efficient tax administration and better tax collection systems. The Netherlands will help by concluding new taxation agreements and training local tax inspectors.

A major innovation is a much greater role for the private sector. With sustainable investments, businesses can create jobs, and help people build a better life. ‘In this respect, the Global Goals closely match my agenda for aid, trade and investment,’ says Ms Ploumen. Contributions by major charities like the Gates Foundation will help significantly to achieve the Goals. Other non-governmental development organisations will also have a role to play.

Standing up for sexual rights

‘We have reached international consensus on these goals – between rich and poor countries and between countries with divergent cultures and political systems. That is a major step,’ says the minister. ‘But I would have liked clearer pronouncements on subjects like sexual rights, for example the right to sex education, contraceptives and safe abortions. The Netherlands will continue to stand up for issues like these. What’s more, it’s not clear how progress with the goals will be measured. But Statistics Netherlands will certainly be able to play a valuable role there.’