UN post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

We’re working with partners to put sustainable consumption and production at the heart of the UN’s new sustainable development goals which aim to inspire action everywhere over the next 15 years.

Going for UN goals that deliver One Planet Living

The UN and global leaders keep talking about sustainability. We need it to become a reality, everywhere and for this generation, or face dangerous climate change and potentially catastrophic natural resource crunches. We’re working with NGO partners and progressive governments to put this at the top of the UN’s agenda.

Building on our experience of influencing UN negotiations on sustainable development, we have campaigned with some success for principles of sustainable consumption and production to be enshrined in the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which UN member states are currently negotiating.

These will follow on from the highly visible and much discussed Millennium Development Goals. These MDGs relate to the year 2015 and mainly concern tackling global poverty and deprivation. The SDGs relate to 2030. While they continue the fight to eliminate poverty the new goals will be universal, covering both rich and poor nations, and address grave environmental problems.

With others, we are making the case for a higher level of ambition from governments in achieving sustainability and avoiding a mounting range of environmental threats and resource shocks.

Sustainable consumption and production (SCP), much discussed at UN summits over the decades but still very far from being implemented, is a key idea here. It means both consumers and businesses transitioning towards a global flow of goods and services which does not wreck the planet while ensuring every man, woman and child can consume enough to live a decent life with dignity.

We set out to develop effective partnerships with international coalitions of environmental and development NGOs on this issue. Our aim was to exert concrete influence on a UN Open Working Group of more than 70 nations negotiating proposals for SDGs and accompanying targets with sustainable consumption and production duly recognised and incorporated into the new goals.

With one staff member based in New York (where the UN is headquartered and the Open Working Group met) we were elected to two ‘focal point’ roles representing NGOs on the issue of SCP in the UN Environment Programme and as part of the Beyond2015 campaign. We lobbied government representatives widely and repeatedly and organised a series of meetings and webinars to put over our views. We also prepared briefing materials for government representatives and NGOs as the negotiations progressed.

One key output was our report One Planet Living – the case for sustainable consumption and production in the post-2015 development agenda, published on behalf of two NGO coalitions, Beyond2015 and Bond. Bioregional Chief Executive Sue Riddlestone addressed the UN Open Working Group in New York in January 2014, summarising our arguments.

The Open Working Group (OWG) presented its proposals for a set of 17 sustainable development goals in July 2014, with one of them devoted to SCP. Our advocacy work influenced this outcome, and we have succeeded in raising the profile of SCP and national negotiators’ understanding of the concept and related issues.

As the SDGs grind through the mill of further UN negotiations through to the autumn of 2015, we will continue working with partners to ensure these all-important goals prioritise sustainable consumption and production. As part of that, we have published a briefing on how the goals proposed by the OWG are linked to sustainable consumption and production  (read it here). We’ve also written a briefing proposing indicators to measure progress in moving towards SCP at the local, national and global level.

About our partners 

Bond is the UK membership body for NGOs working in international development.

Beyond2015 is a global civil society campaign pushing for a strong and legitimate successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals. Beyond2015 brings together more than 1,000 civil society organisations in over 130 countries.

WWF UK is the UK arm of the world’s leading independent conservation organisation which addresses issues from the survival of species and habitats to climate change, sustainable business and environmental education, creating solutions to the most important environmental challenges facing the planet so people and nature can thrive.