Pamela S. Chasek, Lynn M. Wagner, Faye Leone, Ana-Maria Lebada, Nathalie Risse
The United Nations Member States set a very high bar for themselves at the Rio+20 conference in June 2012: reaching agreement among 193 countries on a broad ‘post-2015’ sustainable development agenda that could enhance international coordination on all aspects of human and planetary well-being. However, at a point in history when States were increasingly failing to reach consensus on key decisions, they made history by agreeing on a course that could ‘transform our world’, through ‘an agenda of breathtaking ambition and scope’. This article reviews the two negotiating tracks to develop the post-2015 outcome – the work of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which originated out of the decision taken at Rio+20; and the agreement to launch a post-2015 development agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals. The final outcome from these two processes represents a fine balance among competing interests and concerns. The article sets the stage for a closer examination of the results of these negotiations. We begin our examination of the ‘original intent’ of the post-2015 agenda by reviewing the negotiation of the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda, with attention to their similarities and differences. The article concludes with a focus on challenges for the implementation stage, based on the themes that emerged during the negotiations.