New Global Development Agenda Finalized: How Did MSH Priorities Fare?

New Global Development Agenda Finalized: How Did MSH Priorities Fare?

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development

After two years of negotiations, 193 Member States of the United Nations reached agreement last month on the new sustainable development agenda that will be formerly adopted later this week at the 70th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.

The Member States agreed to 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) with a total of 169 targets. The SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire this year and will influence development priorities and funding for the next 15 years.

About the New Development Agenda

The agenda, entitled Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is composed of five parts: The Preamble; Chapter 1: The Declaration; Chapter 2: The Sustainable Development Goals; Chapter 3: Means of implementation and the Global Partnership; and, Chapter 4: Follow up and review.

Overall, NGO and civil society response has been positive. One of the key criticisms of the MDGs was the lack of universal implementation and political will from all countries to meet the goals. With the inclusion of sections addressing means of implementation, follow-up, and review, these criticisms were addressed and global leaders will hopefully have more incentive to hold each other accountable to meet these new goals.

Other major wins for the SDGs include goals devoted to health and gender, with targets on health workforce, financing and security, as well as gender equality and empowerment being discussed throughout the agenda.

While the new agenda addresses many of the development community’s key concerns and priorities, NGOs and civil society are weary of such an ambitious agenda in such a short span of time and have raised several concerns. Needs for a financing mechanism for the goals and a data revolution providing more complete, accurate and timely data on goal progress were both raised during July’s Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The conference’s outcome document, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, seeks to address these concerns, but as seen with the MDGs, there has to be enough political will to ensure its resolutions are upheld.

Another key criticism of the new development agenda is the lack of youth inclusion, with little to no mention of adolescents throughout the 29 page document.

MSH’s Priorities in the New Agenda

Going into the post-2015 process, MSH addressed four key priorities for the new development agenda:

  • Financing for health and universal health coverage (UHC)
  • Addressing the changing landscape of global health, particularly regarding chronic diseases (CDs) and fragile states
  • Women and girls
  • Governance and accountability

MSH and others in the global health community see a big win in paragraph 26 of the Declaration section; it addresses the importance of including health in the new development agenda:

26. To promote physical and mental health and well-being, and to extend life expectancy for all, we must achieve universal health coverage and access to quality health care. No one must be left behind. We commit to accelerating the progress made to date in reducing newborn, child and maternal mortality by ending all such preventable deaths before 2030. We are committed to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education. We will equally accelerate the pace of progress made in fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis, Ebola and other communicable diseases and epidemics, including by addressing growing anti-microbial resistance and the problem of unattended diseases affecting 7 developing countries. We are committed to the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases, including behavioural, developmental and neurological disorders, which constitute a major challenge for sustainable development.

In addition to paragraph 26, three out of the 17 SDGs address MSH priority areas:

  • Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access, to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Here’s how the SDGs align with MSH’s four priorities:

Financing for health and UHC

As seen above, paragraph 26 of the Declaration states, “we must achieve universal health coverage and access to quality health care. No one must be left behind.” This commitment to UHC is reinforced in Goal 3 as target 3.8 specifically calls for the achievement of UHC, “including risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.”

Health financing, as well as human resources for health, are also addressed in target 3.c as it calls for the need to “substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States.”

Through targets 3.8 and 3.c, MSH’s priority to see both UHC and health financing included in the SDGs was met.

Addressing changing landscape of global health – particularly regarding CDs and fragile states

Within the new agenda, MSH wanted to see a greater commitment to addressing the changing landscape of global health, particularly with regards to treating and preventing CDs and meeting the health needs of fragile and post-fragile states. The new development agenda addressed these areas of concern as well the overall need for countries to be better equipped to meet health challenges.

In Goal 3, target 3.4 directly addresses CDs through calling for the reduction, by one third, of premature mortality from CDs through prevention and treatment by 2030. In addition to 3.4, there are a number of CD-related targets in Goal 3, such as 3.a, which strengthens the implementation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Target 3.d addresses the need for greater global health security and health systems strengthening as it calls for the strengthening of “the capacity of all countries, particularly developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.”

Goal 16 addresses the challenges seen in fragile states, from violence to a lack of rule of law, and includes targets on reducing violence, promoting rule of law, reducing organized crime, and developing effective, accountable, and transparent institutions.

Women and Girls

Gender equality and the inclusion of women and girls in the new development agenda were not just priorities for MSH, but were also key priorities for the US government (USG). The USG lobbied tirelessly during the negotiations process to ensure women and girls were included in the SDGs, and their efforts were not in vain.

The inclusion of a standalone goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (Goal 5) was a big win in the new agenda. In addition to this goal, language promoting the health and well-being of women and girls can be found throughout the document, from targets in Goal 3 addressing family planning and reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health to targets in Goal 4 eliminating gender disparities in education and encouraging education for all to targets in Goal 16 calling for birth registrations for all and violence reduction.

Governance and Accountability

Finally, MSH’s priority for the new agenda to have a strong emphasis on governance and accountability was realized with Goal 16.

Of Goal 16’s 12 targets, five directly relate to leadership, management and governance practices. For example, target 16.6 calls for the development of effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels while target 16.8 seeks to “broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance.”

What’s Next?

Overall, MSH is pleased with the new development agenda with three goals directly meeting our key priorities, and language throughout the agenda addressing key health issues.

Now that the agenda has been agreed upon by the UN Member States, the Members will reconvene in New York City later this week to finalize the post-2015 process and formerly adopt the agenda.

Then the hard part -- achieving the SDGs and targets -- begins.


Editor’s note: Which Global Goals do you support? Tell everyone.