At the beginning of August, leaders from around the world came to consensus on the future of global development for the next 15 years. The new agenda, called the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” will build on the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and apply to all countries, regardless of economic, social or political realities.
The main content of Agenda 2030 is the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) along with the 169 targets under those goals. Goals include achieving better health and education, contributing to gender equality, eliminating poverty, reducing inequality and improving access to justice. Unlike the MDGs, the SDGs make concerted effort to reduce the “silo-ing” of development issues by adopting an integrated and holistic approach to development. This approach is grounded in principles that include respect for human rights, equity, and transformational change. The new agenda is also meant to be universal in nature; it will apply to all countries, regardless of economic standing. This presents an opportunity for Canada to apply the SDG framework to its existing international development efforts as well as an expectation on government to implement the SDGs domestically through social, economic and environmental laws, policies and programmes.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights are captured throughout the agenda, specifically in the goals on health and gender equality. Targets include ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes, eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual violence, reducing the global maternal mortality ratio, and ending the AIDS epidemic, among others. Unfortunately, the new agenda does not explicitly address issues of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression or the right to access safe and legal abortion services.
Looking ahead, the Inter-agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Indicators has been tasked with finalizing the indicators by early 2016. Canada is a member of the group and can therefore play an important role ensuring the integration of a human rights-based approach to the fine-tuning of indicators, and allowing for consideration of both quantitative and qualitative indicators.
Financing the new agenda remains an ongoing conversation. The Guttmacher Institute estimates it would cost $39.2 billion per year to meet everyone’s sexual and reproductive health needs; however, investing in sexual and reproductive health yields a significant return on investment.