Long-awaited SDGs negotiating text includes landmark goal on cities

“Zero draft” also proposes changes to 21 targets, including two for Goal 11.

Almost exactly three years since the international community struck a watershed agreement to find a common approach to fighting fight poverty, inequality, environmental degradation and climate change, a formal negotiating text for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been released.

The text includes a landmark draft goal on urbanization, which a global movement has been strongly pushing for over the past year. Indeed, the cities goal was highlighted as one of nine key points made in an introductory overview, stating that the agenda aims to “Promote safe and inclusive cities and human settlements”. In addition, the text specifically calls out the importance of local authorities in implementing the ambitious goals.

The “zero draft”, made public on 2 June, follows an enormous process to decide on how the world’s governments, multilateral institutions and donors should coordinate their efforts following this year’s expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). That framework has guided global efforts over the past decade and a half and has resulted in major, concerted progress on a host of development measures in poor countries — reducing the expansion of slums, expanding education opportunities, cutting down on maternal mortality and more.

As detailed in the new negotiating text, the draft SDGs would be even more far-reaching — indeed, some say they are ambitious to a fault. Through 2030, the new goals would apply to both developing and rich countries and would expand from the MDGs’ eight goals to 17. This includes new considerations that have moved to the heart of collective global concern in recent years, particularly around urbanization and climate change.

These two issues are now addressed specifically in standalone goals — draft Goals 11 and 13, respectively. Yet their closely aligned concerns are spread throughout many of the other 15 goals, including around issues of infrastructure, energy use, resiliency, consumption and more.

Each goal also includes multiple targets, which have likewise been the focus of intensive, detail-oriented negotiations between political representatives and experts. For instance, Goal 11, the urban SDG, includes 10 draft targets in the newly released negotiating text. Final indicators for these targets are still being worked out at the technical level, however, and will not be finalized until early next year.

A new agenda

Entitled “Transforming our World by 2030 — a New Agenda for Global Action”, the draft text is divided into four sections. In addition to the core proposals of the SDGs and targets themselves, the document includes a highly scrutinized opening declaration, as well as sections on how to pay for and monitor progress on the new goals.

The draft also includes three annexes, two of which are active documents. One of these is a paper on potential approaches to technology transfer between rich and poor countries. The third annex, sure to see significant discussion in coming negotiations, outlines changes to 21 of the 169 targets being “strongly” proposed by the SDGs process’s leadership.

As reported previously by Citiscope, two of these recommended changes would apply to Goal 11:

CURRENT SDG 11, TARGET 11.5:

By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and decrease by [x] per cent the economic losses relative to gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable areas.

PROPOSED REVISION:

By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths, the number of affected people and the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including through humanitarian assistance.

CURRENT SDG 11, TARGET 11.b:

By 2020, increase by [x] percent the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans toward inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, develop and implement, in line with the forthcoming Hyogo Framework, holistic disaster risk management at all levels.

PROPOSED REVISION:

By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and development and implement, in line with Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels.

The SDGs will constitute part, but not all of, a broader framework being referred to as the Post-2015 Development Agenda. As such, the SDGs text agreed to in September will likely be closely integrated with several other ongoing negotiations, including the Financing for Development conference in July, the COP 21 climate negotiations at the end of this year and the Habitat III conference on cities in October 2016.

Meanwhile, governments are now scheduled to take up the SDGs zero draft at negotiations set for 22-25 June. The Special Summit on Sustainable Development, where the SDGs will be finalized, will take place 25-27 September. And countries are expected to start implementing the new goals by the beginning of next year.

Update: Civil society groups and others are able to provide feedback on the zero draft though this link. Deadline is 21 June.

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