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The world officially commenced implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on 1 January 2016, with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) succeeding the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired on 31 December 2015.

On the occasion, the UN highlighted the importance of partnerships and international solidarity in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and called for sharing experiences and tracking progress, including through an Annual SDG Progress Report.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)January 2016: The world officially commenced implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on 1 January 2016, with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) succeeding the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired on 31 December 2015. On the occasion, the UN highlighted the importance of partnerships and international solidarity in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and called for sharing experiences and tracking progress, including through an Annual SDG Progress Report.

UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said 2016 must be “all about action and implementation.” Building on momentum and securing early implementation will be his top priority, he said, as he called for action from all. He called on governments to: identify and plan for necessary changes; invest in essential services; create an enabling legal and policy framework; and advance inclusive, transparent governance. Lykketoft called on the UN system to: support national implementation; ensure alignment of the 2030 Agenda with the agendas of economic decision-making forums, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Group of 20 (G20); and prevent conflicts and protect human rights. He also outlined key actions from the private sector, civil society and “ordinary people everywhere,” including holding governments accountable, and supporting activities and causes aligned with the SDGs.

In its press release on the eve of the SDGs’ taking effect, the UN notes that the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will review progress on the Goals each year by assessing global progress, identifying gaps and emerging issues and recommending corrective action. An annual SDG Progress Report will assess progress using a set of global indicators, which are expected to be finalized later in 2016, the UN says.

According to the UN, the “first test of political will” to implement the 2030 Agenda is the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was reached in December 2015. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Lykketoft both stressed addressing climate change as critical in advancing the 2030 Agenda, in recent statements.

Also on 30 December, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, highlighted the importance of action on SDG 6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all). In a resolution adopted on 17 December 2015, the UNGA recognizes sanitation as a distinct human right. Heller expressed hope that this recognition will focus attention on achieving access to sanitation, which he said has a spillover effect on the pursuit and enjoyment of other human rights. He added that the UNGA resolution strengthens people’s capacity to claim the right to sanitation “when the State fails to provide the services or when they are unsafe, unaffordable, inaccessible or with inadequate privacy.”

The 15-year SDG cycle officially commenced over a 24-hour period, with the SDGs coming into effect as each region reached 2016. [UN Press Release, 30 December] [UNGA President Statement] [UN Press Release, 21 December] [OHCHR Press Release] [UNGA Summary, 17 December 2015]

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