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2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Development cooperation is an integral part of foreign policy of developed countries aimed at achieving peace, promoting economic growth and social stability worldwide, reducing differences between developed and developing countries, and integrating developing countries into the world economy. Combating poverty and providing support to human rights, gender equality, democracy, supremacy of law and good management constitute an inherent part of this policy.

At the beginning of the third millennium, in 2000, the United Nations Organisation (UN) convened the Millennium Summit in New York, which was attended by heads of states and governments as well as other high-ranking officials from 189 countries. At the Summit, the world leaders reasserted their determination to combat poverty and social exclusion, overcome AIDS, malaria and other diseases, work for the sake of peace and help less developed countries to achieve progress. They assumed collective responsibility for seeking to ensure that globalisation becomes a positive force for the world’s people.

At the Summit, the world leaders adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration which defined the values, principles and objectives for the development agenda for the twenty-first century. The Declaration reaffirmed Member States’ faith in the United Nations Organisation and its Charter as indispensable for a more peaceful world. Member States and their leaders assumed responsibility for upholding human dignity, equality and equity. The Declaration contains the commitment to create a new global partnership for combating poverty and sets out the development goals until 2015, which subsequently became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

With a view to implement the Millennium Development Goals, substantial progress has been made over the past decade in reducing poverty, child and maternal mortality and increasing access to primary education; however, the problems such as hunger and malnutrition, limited or lack of access to health care services and medicines, lack of proper sanitation and hygiene, insufficient level of primary and secondary education, inaccessibility of social security, lack of respect for human rights, unequal opportunities, including gender inequality, and effects of climate change still remain relevant. These are the issues that remain important in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Agenda.

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Between 1990 and 2010, the poverty rate was cut nearly by half and the indicator has been improving continuously. At present, the number of people living on less than USD 1.25 per day is lower by a billion. Nevertheless, 836 million people worldwide still live below the poverty line. Although 72 out of 129 countries managed to halve the number of hungry people, 795 million people, or almost 15% of the global population, still remain chronically undernourished.

2. Achieve universal primary education

The global literacy level of youths aged 15–24 rose from 83% in 1990 to 91% in 2015. Primary school enrolment in the developing regions went up from 83% to 91% between 1990 and 2015. However, 57 million primary-school-age children, more than half of them living in sub-Saharan Africa, are not in school yet. Providing help to these children, usually young girls, the poor living in remote areas or belonging to another vulnerable group, poses a real challenge.

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

The Millennium Development Goals, international and national efforts helped ensure that a lot more young girls attend school in the developing countries today compared to 15 years ago.  The empowerment of women in society has led to poverty reduction, increase in production and household income, better health of children and higher education level. Nevertheless, women continue to experience discrimination in some regions of the world, their economic and cultural situation is bad and freedom is constantly restricted. Ensuring gender equality remains one of the biggest challenges of the 21th century.

4. Reduce child mortality

By 2015, the mortality rate among children under five decreased by more than half (from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000). The main causes of mortality were malnutrition, respiratory infections and various communicable diseases that can be prevented by ensuring better nutrition and health care conditions. In 2000–2014, more than 20 million children received measles vaccination in developing regions and the morbidity rate fell to 67% in the same period. Despite these important and significant achievements, every day 16,000 children pass away before the age of five in 2015 (due to preventable causes). Therefore, the reduction of child mortality remains one of the key objectives in assisting the developing countries.

5. Improve maternal health

Since 1990, the maternal mortality rates have declined steadily. While the global maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births was 380 in 1990, it dropped by 45% in 2013 and stood at 210. However, the mortality rate remains quite high despite this progress and falls short of the target to reduce the maternal mortality rate by 75% defined in the Millennium Development Goals. A high maternal mortality rate is caused by the poor state of the health sector, shortage of basic medications and skilled medical staff in the developing countries.

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

The number of people newly infected with HIV has been shrinking continuously worldwide and more treatment opportunities have emerged. In the current decade, the number of new HIV infections fell from 3.5 million cases in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2013. In the last 15 years, successful fight against malaria helped save more than 6.2 million human lives.

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

Development is not sustainable if it damages the environment, wastes natural resources and increases vulnerability to natural disasters. Poor people often use natural resources in a very destructive way disposing of rubbish and wastewater within the residential area, inconsiderately expanding the area of arable land, cutting down and burning forests. This leads to pollution of drinking water bodies, depletion of natural resources and increase in the number of the poor. Although the proportion of people living in slums fell from 39.4% to 29.7% between 2000 and 2014 and 91% of the global population had access to better quality water in 2015 (compared to 76% in 1990), losses of biodiversity and natural resources could not have been stopped. The universal awareness of these problems has been rising continuously and these areas must remain in the focus in the future as well.

8. Global partnership for development

Considerable progress has been made in order to promote global partnership for development as the developing countries gained better access to markets and technology and their debts decreased. Official development assistance provided by the developed global economies increased by 66% in 2000–2014 and reached a peak of USD 135.2 million in 2014. In the same year, 79% of goods imported from countries within the developing regions were exempt from any customs duties in the developed global economies.

Over the past decade, the world’s economic situation has undergone material changes. The disparities between developing countries have increased, and the growth of emerging market economies has constituted very important part of global economic development. Some developing countries (e.g. China, South Korea, Mexico) have become providers of assistance and important partners in development cooperation. However, poverty and hunger still prevail in many regions of the world, particularly in Africa, southward from the Sahara, and in other least developed countries. Many people in these countries suffer from political instability, civil wars and economic recession.

The heads of state and government of more than 150 countries meeting at the UN Summit on 25 September 2015 approved the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the new Sustainable Development Goals which replaced the Millennium Development Goals.

Although the Millennium Development Goals contributed greatly to poverty reduction all over the world, they placed the responsibility primarily on the developed countries and lacked a common implementation strategy. The new agenda is much more ambitious and outlines specific actions for both the developing and developed countries.

Key elements of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:

  • The new Sustainable Development Goals outline specific actions for the developing and developed countries and the range of action covers all three sustainable development dimensions: economic, social and environmental. The principle of the new agenda is "leave no one behind" as the goals will be considered to be achieved only if they are achieved in all the countries and for all social groups. The new Sustainable Development Goals are expected to be implemented by 2030.
  • The new Development Agenda is composed of the preamble, declaration, 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets as well as the means of implementation, follow-up and review.
  • The preamble refers to five key elements of the new Sustainable Development Agenda which will be targeted by the actions (the so-called 5Ps: people, planet, prosperity, peace, partnership).
  • The section outlining the means of implementation is very detailed as each of the 16 goals has specific means and there is a separate 17th goal for these means only, while a separate section of the document is devoted to the means of implementation.
  • The new Agenda will have a consistent progress follow-up and goal review system. Follow-up will be carried out at three levels: national, regional and global. At global level, the UN High Level Political Forum will play the central role in overseeing and will receive voluntary reports. To ensure quality follow-up, strengthening the capacity of less developed countries will be a major challenge since the proper measurement of progress will require very good data collection and processing. The process of development of indicators which will be used to measure progress against the achievement of goals is still ongoing. The process is led by the UN Statistical Commission which is expected to complete work by March 2016.

Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere;
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture;
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages;
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all;
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all;
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation;
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries;
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable;
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns;
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts;
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development;
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss;
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels;
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

In the run-up to the adoption of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentand new sustainable development goals, it was important to agree on financial and non-financial means of implementation. To that end, the UN third international development financing conference was convened on 13–16 July 2015 to assess progress made in the implementation of development financing under the 2002 Monterrey Consensus and the 2008 Doha Declaration, discuss new development financing challenges and outline the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The conference was attended by 193 countries which adopted the Addis Ababa Action Agenda which is an integral part of the 2030 Development Agenda. It is made up of over a hundred specific financial and non-financial means aimed at ending poverty and hunger, reducing social inequality, ensuring equal rights for women, protecting the most vulnerable, fighting against climate change and preserving natural resources. It is estimated that the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals will cost up to USD 3 trillion each year.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda contains the following key means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:

  • Domestic financial resources: their mobilisation for the development goals is one of the key elements of this agenda. Countries agreed to widen the tax base to ensure domestic revenue which is necessary for the funding of major public projects in health, education and infrastructure development. They also agreed to improve tax collection and combat tax evasion and illicit financial flows.
  • Domestic and international private business finance: the agenda underscores the importance of cooperation with the private sector. The creation of suitable legal environment may ensure that private business investments in major infrastructure projects such as in energy, transport, etc. and dissemination of technologies become an important element of development funding.
  • International official development assistance: it continues to be an important source of funding for the least developed and developing countries. Many developed countries, including the European Union (collectively) recommitted to achieve the target of 0.7% of gross national income for official development assistance (GNI/ODA) and 0.15–0.20% GNI/ODA for least developed countries.
  • International trade: the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in ensuring universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable and non-discriminatory trading conditions is emphasised.
  • Addressing sovereign debt issues: it is emphasised that these issues must be addressed in cooperation with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
  • Systemic issues: the necessity to ensure policy consistency for development among different policy areas is emphasised. Migration issues are one of the major elements.
  • Cooperation in science, technology, innovation and capacity-building.

Currently the United Nations together with the Member States, civil society, business and social partners take part in the global discussion on the new universal climate change agreement. The aim is to reach an ambitious and long-term binding agreement to ensure that issues such as mitigation of climate change, adaptation to climate change, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building, transparency of actions and assistance are tackled effectively. It would also include ambitious commitments to mitigate climate change defined at national level.

From 30 November 2015 to 11 December 2015 heads of states with delegations held meeting at the conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris where a new universal climate change agreement which will enter into force in 2020 and will replace the current Kyoto Protocol has been signed.

Over 160 countries and 54 international organisations participate in this global initiative. The partnership is organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Development Programme. The objective of the Global Partnership is to strengthen the coordination of development cooperation between donor states and recipient countries in order to eradicate poverty. A particular focus is placed on the implementation of the principles of partner countries’ responsibility, concentration on results, transparency and accountability. Lithuania officially joined the Global Partnership initiative on 30 January 2014.

Aimed at ensuring that development cooperation is more effective, the Global Partnership closely links its activities with other international initiatives, the most significant of which being the United Nations Development Cooperation Forum, G20 Development Working Group, and the Post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda process.

The Global Partnership was established in the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Bussan, South Korea, in 2011. Lithuanian representatives attended the First High-Level Forum of the Global Partnership, which took place in Mexico City in April 2014. This international initiative is based on the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, the 2003 Rome Declaration on Harmonisation, the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action.