Background on the SDGs


The SDGs came into effect in January 2016, and they will continue guide UNDP policy and funding for the next 15 years. As the lead UN development agency, UNDP is uniquely placed to help implement the Goals through our work in some 170 countries and territories.

Our strategic plan focuses on key areas including poverty alleviation, democratic governance and peacebuilding, climate change and disaster risk, and economic inequality. UNDP provides support to governments to integrate the SDGs into their national development plans and policies. This work is already underway, as we support many countries in accelerating progress already achieved under the Millennium Development Goals.

Our track record working across multiple goals provides us with a valuable experience and proven policy expertise to ensure we all reach the targets set out in the SDGs by 2030. But we cannot do this alone.

Achieving the SDGs requires the partnership of governments, private sector, civil society and citizens alike to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations.

MDG Lessons

In 2015, world leaders set out to defy the odds, committing themselves to achieve 17 ambitious and far-reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. This was not the first time the world had attempted to raise the trajectory of human progress by employing Global Goals. In 2000, world leaders blazed a trail by adopting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were the first attempt to use Global Goals to capture and advance the shared interest we all have, in a more just, peaceful and prosperous world.

From MDGs to Sustainable Development For All: Lessons from 15 Years of Practice

This Report offers lessons from the MDG experience, distilled largely by governments and stakeholders themselves, via National MDG Reports produced from 2013 to 2015. Over 50 countries’ National MDG Reports reflected on the totality of their MDG experience. This Report draws on their conclusions as well as the breadth and depth of UNDP’s own experiences supporting the MDGs in over 140 countries. Its findings suggest that the specifics matter. The MDGs had more impact when they were brought into popular discourse and when local leaders and change agents considered them less a rigid framework and more of an opportunity to:

  • Motivate popular engagement;
  • Build consensus on national priorities;
  • Generate international support;
  • Improve coordination within and between governments;
  • Make the needs and contributions of particular groups visible; and/or
  • Boost transparency and hold leaders to account.

Some were more effective than others at leveraging the visibility and legitimacy of Global Goals. The Report analyzes what worked under the MDGs and why. It ends with 10 concrete recommendations for SDG implementation, suggesting the policies, processes and practices that may help local leaders, change agents and stakeholders maximize the impact of Global Goals.

Regional and country MDG progress reports

Post-2015 Project

In 2011 the project “Building the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Open and Inclusive Consultations” was conceptualized and launched. The overall objective was to "build and lead a strategic coalition of partners that can shape the post-2015 development agenda through global broad mobilization and engagement of government, grassroots, academics, CSOs and other organizations” and “to ensure that the post-2015 development agenda is (1) guided by UN norms, values and commitments, (2) informed and shaped by the arising challenges of the 21st century, including sustainability and equity and (3) built on the momentum and lessons learned from the MDGs”.

At the end of the project, almost 100 national consultations, 11 global thematic consultations, 6 global consultations had taken place. In addition, the project initiated the “MY World” survey with almost 10 million respondents. A large part of the project focused on building a bridge between the people who normally do not participate in this type of agenda setting and the institutional mechanisms in place responsible for such a global process.  Although it was administered and hosted by UNDP, the project was led by UNDG, to allow for a coherent and coordinated approach in which several UN agencies could work together on the development of the post-2015 agenda.

Building the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Open and Inclusive Consultations

A Million VOices: The World We Want