A new draft paves the way to Sustainable Development Goals

Trade unions have been participating in the ongoing discussions in New York to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals to “replace” the Millenium Development Goals. The Open Working Group is tasked with drafting a set of targets and objectives to come into effect in 2015. A new draft on the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets is now available.

The new draft lists 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This revised zero draft is currently under negotiation and assuming that the text is adopted by Friday 18 July it should serve as the basis for intergovernmental negotiations at United Nations General Assembly level starting in the fall of 2014.

Overall, the set of goals and targets is broadly acceptable, but there remains room for significant improvement and precision. Some brief feedback follows:

Despite the fact that social protection floors are included in the goal 1: end poverty everywhere, trade unions are disappointed to see that neither ratification and implementation of ILO Conventions 102 and 202 nor support to developing countries for the design and implementation of social protection systems were part of this goal.

In terms of decent work, trade unions are glad to see the inclusion and support for goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Likewise there are a number of targets which relate to quality of employment. Nevertheless, the labour movement remains convinced that there are grounds to have a separate goal on Decent Work.

Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable use of water and sanitation for all, has been reformulated. Trade unions consider the new wording as inappropriate as water is a human right. Trade unions would like the goal to read as it did before: Ensure the human right to water and sanitation for all for a sustainable world.

It is a positive signal that Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and between countries has been retained, contrary to indications that it would be removed. Trade unions welcome this inclusion, despite the need to make additional references to wage policies, including minimum living wages and to strong and functioning labour market institutions in this goal.

Last but not least, in terms of Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and the global partnership for sustainable development, trade unions believe that fair and progressive taxation as well as innovative sources of financing, such as the international tax on financial transactions, could be added to this goal to ensure Sustainable Development Goals become a reality.