Transition From MDG to SDG: Issues & Concern

Transition From MDG to SDG: Issues & Concern

SDGs amid Covid


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 2-Pandemic and SDGs


  • As lockdown eases, return to business as usual is unimaginable in Asia and Pacific which was already off track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
  • Efforts to respond to the pandemic have revealed how many people in our societies live precariously close to poverty and hunger.

Progress towards SDGs in pandemic

  •  The SDGs  can serve as a beacon in these turbulent times.
  •  SDGs are a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development, globally, by 2030.
  • The pandemic has exposed fragility and systemic gaps in many key systems.
  • Countries have used workable strategies during pandemic to accelerate progress related to development goals and strengthen resilience.
  • Countries have taken steps to extend universal health care systems and strengthen social protection systems.
  • Accurate and regular data have been key to such efforts.
  • Innovating to help the most disadvantaged access financing and small and medium-sized enterprise credits have also been vital.
  • Several countries have taken comprehensive approaches to various forms of discrimination, particularly related to gender and gender-based violence.
  • Partnerships with the private sector and financing institutions, have played a critical role in fostering creative solutions.

Focus on green recovery in Asia-Pacific countries

  • Countries in Asia and the Pacific are developing ambitious new strategies for green recovery and inclusive approaches to development.
  • South Korea recently announced a New Deal based on two central pillars: digitisation and decarbonisation.
  • Many countries in the Pacific are focusing on “blue recovery,” which promote more sustainable approaches to fisheries management.
  • India recently announced operating the largest solar power plant in the region.
  • China is creating more jobs in the renewable energy sector than in fossil fuel industries.

Suggestions for policymaking

  • We need a revolution in policy mindset and practice- following are part of the transformations needed.
  • 1) Inclusive and accountable governance systems.
  • 2) Adaptive institutions with resilience to future shocks.
  • 3) Universal social protection and health insurance.
  • 4) Stronger digital infrastructure.

Consider the question “Pandemic has highlighted the fragility of our systems. But it also emphasised the need to strive to achieve the SDGs. Comment.”


With the onslaught of pandemic disrupting us, we should base our recovery and progress trajectory firmly towards achieving SDGs.


Back2Basics: SDGs

Sustainable Development Goals and India

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
  • The 17 Goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities.
  • The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.
  • The SDGs work in the spirit of partnership and pragmatism to make the right choices now to improve life, in a sustainable way, for future generations.
  • They provide clear guidelines and targets for all countries to adopt in accordance with their own priorities and the environmental challenges of the world at large.

The SDGs are an inclusive agenda. They tackle the root causes of poverty and unite us together to make a positive change for both people and planet. “Poverty eradication is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, and so is the commitment to leave no-one behind,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said. “The Agenda offers a unique opportunity to put the whole world on a more prosperous and sustainable development path. In many ways, it reflects what UNDP was created for.”

The Goals


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193 Countries Agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Why?

After 3 years of negotiations and debate, 193 countries agreed to a set of 17 development goals more bold and ambitious than anything that has come before them.

But what are Sustainable Development Goals? Where have they evolved from?

These 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – part of a wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

There were 8 MDGs and they are going to expire by the end of this year (2015).


But why didn’t we just renew them? Why was there a need to re-evaluate and re-program the development goals?

  1. The MDGs as you can see were very focus, concrete, target oriented which was a good thing to begin with, right?
  2. Wrong – The structures and 8 categorisation metrics ended up being so rigid that we left out other more important areas.

A 2015 UN assessment of the MDGs found they fell short for many people:

“The assessment of progress towards the MDGs has repeatedly shown that the poorest and those disadvantaged because of gender, age, disability or ethnicity are often bypassed.”

Okay, fair point. So what do these SDGs look like? What went into the process of coming up with these 17 blocks of SDGs?

In response to the accusation that the MDGs were too narrow in focus, the SDGs set out to tackle a whole range of issues, from gender inequality to climate change.

The unifying thread throughout the 17 goals and their 169 targets is the commitment to ending poverty.

Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. 



The consultation process to arrive at these 17 SDGs was one of the most transparent exercise ever to be undertaken in the UN history.

A million voices formed the part of the process.

Very quickly then, listing down the goals:

1) End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2) End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

3) Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages

4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all

9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation

10) Reduce inequality within and among countries

11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum)

14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

15) Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss

16) Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

Published with inputs from Sumer


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