Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon tapped David Cameron, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono — the heads of government in the United Kingdom, Liberia, and Indonesia respectively — last year to lead a High Level Panel on Development. Their task: formulating a framework to replace the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) once their deadline for completion is met in 2015. Over the course of three formal meetings and with the input of 5,000 civil society organizations from around the world, the Panel concluded that it was within the world’s reach to completely eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2030.
According to the panel, the implementation of its proposals in full would mean 1.2 billion fewer people living on less than $1.25 per day, the World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty. To reach that goal, the panel presents in its report what it deems a “universal agenda” for development, laying out five “big, transformative shifts” in how the world carries out development to achieve that vision:
1. Leave no one behind, ensuring that no person — regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status — is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities
2. Put sustainable development at the core, halting the pace of climate change and environmental degradation.
3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth, shifting to more sustainable production and consumption practices, diversifying economies and taking advantage of rapid urbanization.
4. Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all, encouraging the rule of law, property rights, freedom of speech and the media, open political choice, access to justice, and accountable government and public institutions.
5. Forge a new global partnership between governments, civilians, multilateral institutions, the business community, academia, and private philanthropy.
“We believe that these five changes are the right, smart, and necessary things to do,” the panel’s report says. “But their impact will depend on how they are translated into specific priorities and actions.”
While the report is in no way binding on the U.N.’s member states, through having these issues as the goalposts, the High Level Panel hopes to set the tone for the pending negotiations once drafting of the official post-2015 agenda begins. To help the process along, the Panel also included twelve “illustrative goals” as suggestions for how countries could decide to supplement or replace the MDGs in an annex to their report. Among those include empowering girls and women to achieve gender equality, ensuring food security and good nutrition, and securing sustainable energy through doubling the share of renewable energy in the global mix.
The current set of goals have managed several successes since their introduction in 2000, including cutting global extreme poverty in half ahead of schedule. Other goals, including reducing the number of urban-dwellers living in slums and improving access to clean water, have been met early as well. While several other remain on track for completion by 2015, it’s clear that several will remain unfulfilled come 2016.
CAP Chair John Podesta served as the U.S. representative on the panel, a position the U.N. Secretary-General named him to last year. “I’ve said before that this report is the first chapter, and not the last word, in the post-2015 agenda,” Podesta said in a statement. “But I urge the American people—and U.S. policymakers—to take seriously the recommendations in the High Level Panel’s report, and to begin thinking about how we can work together to achieve the world we want in 2030. The generations living today can be the first to see a world without extreme poverty. We must not squander this opportunity.”
The Panel’s suggestion of ending extreme poverty by 2030 tracks well with the timeframe President Barack Obama put forward during his State of the Union address in January. “The United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades,” Obama pledged at the time.