The main reports about the post-2015 UN development goals agree about the need for the agenda to encompass the three dimensions of sustainable development, be universally applicable, and adaptable to national priorities. Whatever the agenda’s shape, however, its success will depend on a strong intergovernmental partnership for development and a system of accountability and effective monitoring coordinated by ECOSOC.
One of the success stories of the UN has been its capacity to serve as a forum to agree on global development goals. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the ongoing discussions about the post-2015 UN Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) belong to this long tradition. This not only shows the convening power of the UN and its character as the most representative global institution (the Security Council aside), but also its strong historical partnership with civil society. Although goal setting has helped place many new issues on the global agenda, a downside has been the weak accountability and even deficient monitoring of international commitments.
For the post-2015 process, the UN has before it two major reports: the 2012 one by a task force of UN agencies and the 2013 report of the high-level panel convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for this purpose. We should add his own report to the 68th (September 2013) session of the General Assembly. The implementation of the MDGs is the point of departure. In addition, the SG Report has defined the four building blocks: a clear vision, a set of concise goals and targets, a global partnership, and a participatory monitoring framework. This might be the opportunity to design a system for monitoring not just the post-2015 goals and SDGs (which will hopefully be one and the same) but also other “internationally agreed development goals” agreed to in previous UN summits and global conferences.