Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda Brief

(updated 11/17/15)

By: Lucy Finn and Anne Smith, intern, AARP Office of International Affairs - NY

Publish Date: November  17,  2015

Global Aging Takes Center Stage in Post-2015 Discussions at the UN
Read proceedings from the BCUN panel on July 10, 2013


The 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) signified the world’s commitment to improving the lives of people everywhere and eliminating extreme poverty by 2015.  Each goal was made of quantifiable targets that guided the partnership between the developing and developed world. The eight MDGs included: 

  • End extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  •  Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Strengthen the global partnership

According to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the MDGs have been the most significant global effort to fight poverty in history. While all MDGs were not all achieved by 2015, according to the Secretary General’s 2013 MDG report, extensive progress has been made.(1) In addition, the MDGs have kept the above eight issues on the agendas and in the conversations of international, national, and local organizations. UN partners on the MDGs included member states and multinational organizations, such as the World Bank, WHO, International Labor Organization, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Using the MDGs as guidance, each partner periodically accessed their contribution. As a result, issues that were included in the wording of MDG indicators and measures have received continued attention.

The Post-2015 Conversation

As the 2015 MDG deadline approached, fervent debate about what should be included in the next set of goals was already underway. The 2010 MDG Summit officially opened the dialogue on post-2015 and, at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Member States launched the process of developing a new set of goals with a specific focus on sustainable development.

The successor to the MDGs has come to be known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  In looking toward the SDGs, it was essential that the ageing population be included in the final SDG document as to ensure its continued visibility.


There were several UN groups involved in the development of the Post-2015 SDGs. These key groups include:

High-level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons  27 members, chosen by Ban Ki-moon, to advise the post-2015 process.  US representative was Jon Podesta. This group presented its highly influential report to the Secretary General.

Open Working Group (OWG)  A 30 seat group of 70 Member States tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs.  The US shared a seat with Canada and Israel. They held eight meetings between March 2013 and February 2014.

UN Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda A network of over 60 UN agencies and international organizations co-chaired by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC) and the UN Development Program.  This group provided analytical inputs, background, and experts for the OWG.

UN Development Group (UNDG) A group facilitating national consultations, both online and off, and global conversations through the “My World” online survey.  There will also be eleven multi-stakeholder thematic consultations.  Results are to be compiled and submitted to the HLP. 

UN Regional Commissions Groups conducting regional consultations

Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)  A group, led by Jeffrey Sachs, that has designated 10 priority challenges, one of which is “health and wellbeing at all ages”

UN Global Compact (UNGC) A group representing the views of businesses and the private sector



Below are the documents that have been released. 

1.     Secretary General’s Report on MDGs and Advancing the Agenda Beyond 2015, 8/2013

2.     Report of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on Post-2015 Development Agenda, 5/30/2013

3.     UN SDSN Report, 6/6/2013

4.     UNGC Report, Corporate Sustainability and the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, 6/17/2013

5.     UNDG Report, The Global Conversation Begins, 3/20/2013

6.     UN System Task Team Report on the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, 3/2013

7.     UN Regional Commissions Report, Perspective on Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, 3/2013

8.     Concluding Remarks of OWG Co-Chairs from the Fourth Meeting of the OWG, 6/19/2013

9.   United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development 2015[i] 

10.  Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015[ii] 


Post-2015 UN Timeline

9/25/2013:         UN General Assembly Special Event on the MDGs focused on bridging to post-2015 

11/25/2013:       Fifth session of the Open Working Group convenes 

12/9/2013:         Sixth session of the Open Working Group convenes 

1/6/2014:           Seventh session of the Open Working Group convenes 

2/3/2014:           Eighth and final session of the Open Working Group convenes 

3/3/2014:           Ninth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals 

4/31/2014:         Tenth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals 

5/5/2015:           Eleventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals 

6/16/2014:         Twelfth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals 

7/14/2014:         Thirteenth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals 

11/15/2014:       Symposium on Science and the Sustainable Development Goals

12/4/2014:         Briefing by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on his synthesis report on the Post-2015 Development Agenda at the informal plenary meeting of the General Assembl

1/16/2014:         Stakeholder Preparatory Forum for the Post-2015 Development Agenda Negotiations 

2/17/2015:         Post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations (Declaration session) 

3/23/2015:         Post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations (Sustainable development goals and targets) 

5/26/2015:         The Fourth Global Think Tank Summit

7/20/2015:         Post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations (Intergovernmental negotiations on the outcome document) 

9/25/2015:         United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015