Amina Mohammed speaks to the crowds at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten

#GlobalGoals: the hard work starts now

30 September 2015
Author: Ben Jackson

During a weekend of speeches, meetings and concerts, a new set of Global Goals were formally adopted at the UN. A wide ranging global agreement, integrating environment and development, challenging inequality as well as poverty, and prioritising the poorest and most marginalised so as to "leave no-one behind", was adopted.

The big question now is how these goals will be delivered. Ensuring these goals succeed means understanding what the barriers to implementation were during previous rounds of collective global agreements.

Communication is key

The first consideration is communication. Many other global agreements have suffered the same fate: good commitments buried in lengthy texts that make it difficult for civil society to assess governments against clear benchmarks. The Global Goals have, to a great extent, addressed this issue; while more numerous than the MDGs, they are accessible and have been well communicated so far.

Bond members across the board have led the charge in getting people involved in advocating for an ambitious set of goals, and the Global Citizen Festival and Project Everyone are a great start on getting the word out. More will be necessary to mobilise the citizen 'ambassadors' of the Global Goals that are urgently needed.

Clear plans

The second consideration is implementation. All countries need to quickly develop clear and costed national plans that outline how the goals will be delivered across government, who will be responsible for delivering them, and to whom those assigned with tasks will be accountable.

There are some very encouraging examples of countries already trailblazing when it comes to implementation many of which were show-cased at the Beyond 2015 event at the UN, co-hosted by Bond. But ambition on this front is patchy. In our own neck of the woods in the UK, it remains unclear whether there will be a national plan.

Addressing accountability

The third consideration is accountability. The High-level Political Forum, the process to monitor the Global Goals, is an attempt to address this, but time will tell whether it will really have the muscle to compel action and will be given the mandate and resources to effectively review member states. In this regard, governments, including the UK government, should expend some political capital in making sure this forum works.

A democratic process

The final consideration is democracy. The process of developing the goals was one of the most democratic and inclusive for such UN processes ever undertaken, with millions of citizens engaging through surveys and online engagement.

Building movements of people who are motivated to really push action on these goals will require a representative but focused and effective global architecture of civil society activists, citizens and organisations. These discussions are starting; in fact there was a very over-subscribed meeting in New York on Monday morning to bring together global civil society to discuss 'what next'. It's all of our job to make sure we get this right. The hard work starts now.

Want more? Read a blow by blow account of the activities in New York, an article on bringing the goals home and advice on communicating the Global Goals.

About the author

Ben Jackson
United Purpose

Ben Jackson is global director of innovation and partnerships at United Purpose.