The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of development goals set forth by the United Nations (UN) that seek to address some of the greatest developmental challenges facing the international community today. The SDGs, were developed to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expired in 2015 and sought to reflect a more inclusive, and sustainable approach to development. The SDGs are structured as a set of 17 overarching goals with a number of sub-goals for each. Among the goals expressed within the SDGs are hopes for great access to education, healthcare, sanitation, and technology. They also seek to address climate change which has the potential to most effect some of the poorest countries in the world. All of these goals are in theory to be reached by the expiration of the SDGs in 2030.

The High Level Political Forum (HFLPs) was created in order to create ongoing and continued discussion of the SDGs in order to reach the targets by the 2030 deadline. During each meeting of the HLPF, members discuss select goals contained within the SDGs. The HLPFs are overseen by the United Nations Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC). The next HLPF meetings are scheduled for July of 2017 in New York City.

The SDGs represent an ongoing response to changing perspective on development and what constitutes effective development. As discussed during the previous discussion on developmental theory, how the international community perceives development and methods of development is rapidly changing. The SDGs represent one step that the international community has taken to reflect these changing perspectives.

However, there have been critiques towards the SDGs and its approach to development. First and foremost is the SDG’s perceived failure to address the needs of different minority groups directly including persons with disabilities. The SDGs also have received criticism for being too broad and too ambitious for the time frame given. However, perhaps the greatest challenge presented to the SDGs is the complex and multifaceted “Grand Challenges” that were discussed during the first week of class. Many of the most prominent Grand Challenges facing the international community are represented within the SDGs and a targeted for resolution by the SDGs.

The SDGS while far from perfect do represent an important trend by the international community to encourage inclusive and sustainable development. Reaching even a portion of the targets expressed within the SDGs will mean a more equitable and sustainable international community.