On 25 September 2015, after years of intergovernmental negotiations and consultations with civil society and other stakeholders, the 193 Member States of the United Nations unanimously adopted Resolution 70/1, Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the preamble to this Resolution, the UN Member States declared:
We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.
Resolution 70/1 sets out a fifteen-year plan to end poverty and hunger, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. This plan, the 2030 Agenda, provides for seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. The SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2000, and ‘seek to address their unfinished business’. While significant progress was made with regard to a number of Millennium Development Goals, with hundreds of millions of people emerging from poverty since 2000, billions of people continue to live in poverty and ‘are denied a life of dignity’. Also, there are rising inequalities within and among countries. While many developing countries in Asia have made significant progress in terms of economic development and poverty reduction, most of the least-developed countries have been much less successful. Also, within most countries, both developing and developed, the income gap between the rich and the rest of the population has grown markedly. In its Global Risks 2014 report, the World Economic Forum identified severe income inequality as the global risk that is most likely to manifest itself over the next ten years. Such income inequality entrenches corruption and injustice, gives rise to xenophobic nationalism and religious fundamentalism, fosters political instability and leads to violence and economic destruction.
Reflecting the magnitude and nature of the challenges to be addressed, the SDGs ‘go far beyond’ the Millennium Development Goals. As Resolution 70/1 states:
Alongside continuing development priorities such as poverty eradication, health, education and food security and nutrition, it sets out a wide range of economic, social and environmental objectives. […]