UN Development Goals


Millennium Development Goals

In September 2000, the United Nations and world leaders adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration that set out to form a new global partnership with the objective of reducing extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets – with a deadline of 2015 – that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) include halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and providing universal primary education all by the target date of 2015. These MDGs were largely imposed on the developing countries as opposed to the new Sustainable Development Goals, which are an inclusive process.

To learn more about each goal and their target, click here.

Sustainable Development Goals

The "Open Working Group" (OWG), presided over by the General Assembly, was responsible for creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and was born out of the Rio 20+ Conference held June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. The group was tasked with creating a new development proposal focused on incorporating MDGs into the post-2015 development agenda. The SDGs will contribute to finishing the business of the MDGs with an overarching goal of eradicating extreme poverty within the three pillars of Social, Economic and Environmental sustainability.

The Rio+20 conference made it clear that the SDGs must not divert focus or effort from achieving MDGs. However, the SDGs aim to be more inclusive, global in nature, concise, action oriented, and applicable to all countries while acknowledging individual country needs. The OWG was a unique initiative because of the active call to keep the post-2015 development agenda deliberations open to a wide variety of stakeholders.

The OWG consists of:

  1. 193 countries
  2. Civil Society
  3. Business Community
  4. Academia

OWG began the first of 13 discussion/consultative sessions in March of 2013. The first 8 sessions narrowed down a plethora of development issues into 17 focus areas:

The focus areas are: poverty eradication; food security and nutrition; health and population dynamics; education; gender equality and women’s empowerment; water and sanitation; energy; economic growth; industrialization; infrastructure; employment and decent work for all; promoting equality; sustainable cities and human settlements; sustainable consumption and production; climate; marine resources, oceans and seas; ecosystems and biodiversity; means of implementation; peaceful and non-violent societies; and capable institutions.

Subsequent sessions further developed these areas within the ideological tenets of the SDGs and OWG framework. The 13th and final session concluded July 19, 2014.

For more information on OWG and the SDGs visit:

Sustainable Development Goals