Analysis of the Zero Draft SDGs

On June 2, 2015 the UN released the “Zero Draft” of the SDGs, entitled Transforming Our World by 2030: A New Agenda for Global Action. Here are the top 10 points we in The Hunger Project should know about them.

2015-05 Daisy(Photo at right: Our Uganda country director Dr. Daisy Owomugasho presents testimony May 27, just prior to release of the Zero Draft, with our policy analyst Mary Kate Costello. Click photo to watch video).

  1. Still 17 goals but summarizing them as 9: The same 17 goals and 169 targets that emerged from the member state Open Working Group (OWG) Proposal a year ago have been included here in full — while at the same time “summarizing” them more concisely in the preamble. While there have been strong voices arguing to “simplify” the 17 goals, doing so would inevitably over-simplify some important issues. The nine (unnumbered) summary bullets are:
    • End poverty and hunger;
    • Secure education, health and basic services for all;
    • Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;
    • Combat inequalities within and between countries;
    • Foster inclusive economic growth, shared prosperity and sustainable lifestyles for all;
    • Promote safe and inclusive cities and human settlements;
    • Protect the planet, fight climate change, use natural resources sustainably and safeguard our oceans;
    • Strengthen governance and promote peaceful, safe, just and inclusive societies; and
    • Revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
  2. Strong Preamble: Unlike the OWG Proposal, this draft has brought in some of the poetry of the Secretary-General’s synthesis document. It states “We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet for present and future generations. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps needed to shift the world on to a sustainable path.”
  3. Chapter 1 – A Strong Declaration: The first six pages now constitute a powerful statement of principles and declarations, rather than a narrative of former conferences and broad general observations about the challenge. Earlier this year, we had submitted a series of recommendations at this link based on the outline requested by the UN — based on the 3 pillars of our approach. You can find snatches of our language in the Zero Draft. Each of our pillars are more strongly represented here than in previous drafts, even to acknowledging the role of “ordinary citizens” in meeting the goals that are “of the people and by the people.”
  4. Integrated Approach: The Zero Draft is stronger on the necessity of an integrated approach than any previous UN document, ever, as far as I know.
  5. No “root causes”: A number of progressive civil society groups have criticized the document for not addressing issues like patriarchy head on. This omission is not surprising in a document to be negotiated by countries of every imaginable ideology, yet they have an important point and we applaud their continued push on it.
  6. Indicators: The development of indicators has been moved to an Inter-Agency and Expert Group which will finalize them by March 2016.
  7. Chapter 2 – Means of Implementation: This chapter is a placeholder pending the Addis Summit next month, but it DOES explain what had been a mystery to me in the list of targets – the difference between numbered items like (1.1 and 1.2) and lettered targets (like 1.a and 1.b). The lettered targets are for means of implementation.
  8. Chapter 3 – Follow-up and Review: The Zero Draft includes a multi-tiered process for tracking progress at the national, regional and global level. It includes a point that national reviews will build on reviews by local authorities, multi-stakeholder dialogues, citizen reviews and participatory monitoring.
  9. Annex 1: While the OWG set of 17 goals and 169 targets has been carried over as adopted, the Zero Draft includes an Annex with proposed (and presumably uncontroversial) revisions to the targets to remove all the places where the OWG calls for “reduce by (an unspecified) X%” and ensure consistency with already existing international agreements.
  10. Nutrition: One disappointment to the nutrition community is that the draft only explicitly includes targets for stunting and wasting to 2025, and not the other four agreed-upon World Health Assembly (WHA) nutrition targets – and does not extend the 2025 targets to even stronger targets for 2030. It makes no reference to last year’s International Conference on Nutrition outcomes. The counter-argument from the UN is that the SDGs need not include everything. The Zero Draft paragraph 5 “encourages ongoing efforts by states in other fora to address key issues… and we respect the independent mandates of those processes.”