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The First Steps In Global Goal Partnership And Implementation

John W. McArthur



Over the coming year, one of the multilateral system's most important tasks will be to implement first steps toward achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs, or "global goals"). Success requires thinking about both SDG-wide and SDG-specific priorities in parallel. Although the goals represent a universal agenda for all countries, they also fuse the aspirations of many disparate issue-focused global communities.

The difference between SDG-wide and SDG-specific priorities is important because the strategies needed for partnerships, resource mobilization, and technological advance are distinct for each substantive goal area. As just one illustrative example, tackling infectious disease control (a target under Goal 3) requires a very different mix of actors and responsibilities than implementation to promote clean energy (Goal 7). Likewise the practicalities of promoting full employment (part of Goal 8) contrast considerably with those to protect the oceans (Goal 14).

Within the formal Agenda 2030 structure, SDG-specific priorities are set forth under the first 16 goals. Each goal has two categories of targets: one for outcomes and another for process. The latter is known as "means of implementation" (MOI) in UN jargon. The final wording for each goal and target is a product of each respective issue community's debates, as intermediated through diplomatic channels. By my count there are 107 outcome targets and 62 MOI targets, adding up to 169 altogether.


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