NEW YORK -- By all accounts, Agenda 2030 represents the most ambitious and far-reaching global development program ever undertaken by the United Nations--or any other organization.
Approved by the UN General Assembly in September 2015, the Agenda has at its core 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that address virtually every major challenge facing humanity today, from poverty to climate change, from gender equality to peace and security.
The Agenda's preamble speaks to the scale of aspiration: "We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path."
The plan was devised during a several-years long process that included the participation of not only governments and UN agencies but also thousands of civil society representatives and stakeholder organizations, who gave input in a series of more than a hundred global and regional consultations. By the UN's count, more than 130,000 people in at least 86 countries participated directly or online in these events, with many more giving their input via surveys.
In this regard, the process that led to the creation of Agenda 2030 is now widely considered to be among the most inclusive ever at the UN--and a model for future global consultations.
On a small scale, the new kinds of interactions between governments, UN officials and representatives of civil society that gave birth to Agenda 2030 have been reflected in a series of breakfast meetings held at the offices of the Bahal International Community. Indeed, the discussions at those gatherings track quite well the evolution of the post-2015 development agenda.
Launched in July 2012, and cosponsored with International Movement ATD Fourth World, the meetings have been held roughly once a month. Each has focused on a particular topic, in parallel with the negotiations at the UN. And the meetings have sought explicitly to bring together diplomats, UN officials and civil society representatives in an informal, egalitarian setting, to enable a free exchange of views. [See page 8]
In 2014, the breakfast meetings addressed key issues facing UN negotiators as they sought to devise a replacement for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), covering topics like how to finance the Agenda, the end of traditional "north-south" lines, the...