Following the Rio+20 United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development, world governments embarked on a process to develop universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, which would come into effect in 2016, will apply to all countries and promote an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations.
The Monash Sustainability Institute (MSI) is leading an initiative to provide Australian and Southeast Asian/Pacific regional leadership in the development of the SDGs and the solutions for implementing them.
Sir Bob Watson, one of the world’s leading experts on the science of sustainable development and a former UK representative on the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, has joined MSI to chair the initiative and the workshops.
The initiative’s two main components look at what the SDGs mean for Australia and what they mean for the Southeast Asia/Australia region. Both are being carried out through a series of high-level of workshops and the development of papers to support them. Two workshops take place annually – one in Australia and the other in the southeast Asian/Pacific region. Participation in the workshops is by invitation and includes senior leaders from government, the private sector, civil society and academia.
The workshops are developed, hosted and co-chaired in partnership with key regional stakeholders. They are chaired by Sir Bob Watson. The workshops examine where we are now in terms of sustainability performance, current trends and issues, plausible futures and options, what the SDGs should contain, and sustainable development solutions in action areas. The outcomes of the workshops are being published and passed on to national and international organisations and processes linked to the development of the SDGs.
The international SDG discussions and negotiations have been justly focussed on continuing and finishing the work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in “developing” countries. But what would – and could – the SDGs mean for a developed country like Australia? How relevant are current SDG proposals to Australia? And what sustainable development goals and targets should Australia aim for?
This component of the initiative is exploring these questions with the aim of promoting Australian leadership in the development of the SDGs and the solutions for implementing them.
Through a multi-stakeholder process, we have been developing a set of potential sustainable development goals and targets relevant to Australia that integrate economic, environmental and social issues. The goals address 10 areas: (1) food security and agriculture, (2) climate change and energy security, (3) sustainable water, (4) health, (5) social inclusion and gender, (6) education, (7) sustainable economy, (8) biodiversity and ecosystem services, (9) governance, and (10) cities. We are also exploring linkages among the goals and suggesting targets that ensure that actions to achieve one goal are synergistic with achieving another goal rather than undermine them.
We are working with Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Regional Networks in Southeast Asia and other regional partners to understand what the SDGs might mean for countries in the region, including regional priorities for the SDGs and consideration for how the SDGs could be implemented.