The MDGs expired in 2015 without successfully achieving their very ambitious goal of eradicating poverty. Consequently, this remained the greatest global challenge and requirement for sustainable development. The MDGs failed in part because they only specified a desired outcome and didn’t adequately establish a process for achieving their objectives. The MDGs also didn’t recognize that nation states have individual priorities that often weren’t aligned with or put before the MDGs (Nayyar). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs established a more inclusive and detailed plan in an attempt to counter the poor efficacy of the MDGs. The SDGs expanded upon the eight MDGs by extending the framework to include 17 specific objectives not only focused on eradicating poverty, but also on protecting the planet and fighting inequalities. Since the SDGs only went into effect at the start of this year, it’s far too early to tell how productive and impactful they will be, but their potential seems far more promising. The HLPF will be helpful in determining the progress of the SDGs’ targets and bring special attention to thematic areas each year. Moreover, specific aspects of the SDGs are connected to other global frameworks and thus the potential for sustainable collaborations is encouraging. In particular, cultivating stronger partnerships (SDG #17) between the SDGs, CRPD, NUA, and WSIS will help maximize development resources, global assistance, financial support, and political attention in fulfilling all 17 goals and their ties to all of these frameworks.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is particularly important in realizing the “inclusive” aspect of sustainable development since it supports equal opportunities and access to the approximately 1 billion people (15% of total world population) living with a disability. There are several direct links between the language of the CRPD and the SDGs, with 33 of the CRPD’s core articles encompassing aspects of specific SDGs. The New Urban Agenda (NUA) that was adopted in October 2016 as a result of the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador, is another important framework that relates to the SDGs and inclusive sustainable development. Habitat III provided a great opportunity for local and regional governments to work together and explore the interrelations of the NUA and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The NUA is directly related to and strengthened by Goal 11: “Sustainable Cities and Communities” and its efforts to make “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.” Both the NUA and the SDGs have policy frameworks that can be supported by local institutions and authorities as bottom-up approaches. Actors at the local and municipal levels are just as essential as world leaders in implementing the SDGs, particularly in regards to Goal 11’s targets. However, most communities lack the necessary financial and technical support or are constrained by political and institutional regulations to effectively implement Goal 11 and its similar targets. Because of this, it is vital for the NUA to help foster the required conditions to succeed in producing smarter cities and communities. Because the SDGs and the NUA are voluntary, though highly encouraged, frameworks, the support of a wide range of actors is necessary, as is effective communication and engagement with a larger audience. Lastly, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is another extensive framework that has significant overlap with the SDGs and its efficacy capabilities. The linkages between WSIS and the SDGs are comprehensive and explicit in a detailed report sponsored by the ITU, entitled “WSIS-SDG Matrix: Linking WSIS Action Lines with Sustainable Development Goals.” Since the main objective of WSIS is to advocate for the ability of ICTs to promote and contribute to development goals, its influence to the progress of the SDGs is undeniable. In conclusion, when considering the potential efficacy of sustainable initiatives, it’s necessary to understand how they complement one another rather than isolate or overshadow others.