Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda


The formulation of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) marked a broad international consensus on the need to tackle poverty on a global basis. Considerable progress has been made on achieving some of these goals, although it is widely recognised that they will not all be met by the target year of 2015. In particular, progress has been slow on goals relating to gender equality (#3) and maternal mortality (#5), and on the goal relating to the climate change aspects of environmental sustainability (#7). Discussions are already underway with regard to the “post MDG” period, and the formulation of new Sustainable Development Goals. Thus, the current debates draw on newer trends and global preoccupations, as well as the many lessons learned from work on the MDGs to date.

Thematic consultation
The UN, in collaboration with civil society organisations, has launched a website for collating contributions and ideas for future goals around eleven major themes – inequalities, governance, growth and employment, health, education, environmental sustainability, food security and nutrition, conflict and fragility, population dynamics, energy, and water.

Switzerland is particularly active in two of these debates
1. Water, together with the Netherlands and Mozambique. The Swiss consultation is facilitated through the Swiss Water Partnership .
2. Population dynamics, together with Bangladesh. This includes aspects such as migration, aging, fertility, and rural-urban trends.

For more information about the post-2015 agenda and Switzerland's active participation in the definition of new goals, or to participate yourself in the Swiss online consultation, please visit:


Included or Excluded? Migration in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: An assessment of the Proposal of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
Pascal Fendrich, August 2014

On July 19 2014, the United Nations General Assembly (GA) Open Working Group (OWG) adopted its proposal on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This outcome document concludes a series of 13 meetings between 70 UN member states organised in 30 different groups of countries. This also closes a critical sequence in the process of negotiations and formulation of the global development agenda that should succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the end of 2015. Read more »

A Post-2015 'Data Revolution' for Whom – and by Whom?
Bernd Steimann, November 2013

Much has been written in recent years about the lack of data quality for measuring MDG achievements. Numerous experts have criticised the MDGs’ naive look at national averages in terms of poverty, school enrolment, or maternal health, and have asked for more detailed, disaggregated data in order to get the real picture. Meanwhile, the call has been heard: In its May 2013 report, the High-Level Panel (HLP) calls for “a new data revolution” that should help to better identify the poorest and most marginalised, to make well-informed decisions, to improve track progress, and to strengthen accountability at all levels. It thus looks like the monitoring systems beyond 2015 will be more differentiated than what we have had so far. Read more »

Do we really need a SDG on inequality?
Bernd Steimann, March 2013

The global debate on what should come after 2015 and the MDGs continues to absorb considerable brainpower. Meanwhile, the UN has closed most of the eleven online consultations on selected themes related to global development (1). Some critics bemoan that the selection of topics – from growth and employment to population dynamics, governance and energy – has been arbitrary and non-coherent. Yet the consultations have produced considerable food for thought, and have helped to shed light on some of the most obvious blind spots of the MDGs – such as inequality. Read more »

Local Governance: the missing link in the SDG debate?
Bernd Steimann, January 2013

2015 is approaching fast, and the debate on what should come after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has meanwhile gained full speed. Development practitioners, government officials, academics, and donor representatives around the globe invest their time and brainpower to come up with a new, better, and more inclusive set of‚ Sustainable Development Goals‘ (SDGs) – or whatever the successor framework to the MDGs will be called. Read more »

The MDG fundamentals: improving equity for development
Milo Vandemoortele, ODI Briefing Papers 59, April 2010

Five years from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline, there is growing debate on how to accelerate progress in human development - particularly around the 2010 MDG review process. Historically, progress in development has been seen in terms of economic conditions. A more complete understanding of development is captured by the MDGs, which include indicators for health, gender equality, education and the environment. This paper argues that promoting equity in human development by reducing the gap between the haves and the have-nots will acceler ate progress towards the MDGs.

Download the document here from the ODI resources page: