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Gavelling the Goals: Job done ... now the work begins

03/08/2015 10:44 BST | Updated 02/08/2016 10:59 BST

Down goes the gavel. The sleep-deprivation of a weekend-long negotiation session is forgotten for rapturous applause, from 193 Member States, hundreds of civil society and UN agencies.

Three years in the making, the Post-2015 Development agenda has now been agreed, ready for Heads of State to adopt at the Special SDG Summit in September.

The road from Rio, in June 2012, has been difficult to navigate. But it has also been creative, and, ultimately, constructive. We now have a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will shape how we view, and do, development for the coming decade and beyond.

So, what are the wins?

The new agenda, offers three major shifts compared with the Millennium Development Goals;

1) Narrative shift - the SDGs represent a real advance in how we will view success - eg;

• Leaving No one Behind - While the Millennium Development Goals were judged on what they achieved for some, the new global goals will be judged on what they achieve for all

• Getting to Zero - we can be the first generation to end extreme poverty and eliminate preventable child mortality

• Integrating social, economic and environmental issues - for the first time, we have a fully rounded vision of sustainable development

• Universality - all Goals apply to all countries, breaking-down 'us and them' barriers

2) Normative shift - the SDGs offer wins at some of the most progressive limits of development - eg;

• Governance, Peaceful and Inclusive Societies

• Gender and Sexual & Reproductive Health

• Ending violence against children

• Equity

• Climate Change

3) Ownership shift - the SDGs are an agenda, 'of the people, by the people, for the people' - eg;

• Compared with the MDGs, drafted by a coterie of the powerful, these Goals have been shaped and agreed by all

• Creating the agenda has been the most participatory process in UN history - negotiated over 3 years involving global citizens, civil society and all Member States

• No government can frame the SDGs as an imposed agenda - having designed this global plan of action they now have a duty to deliver on it

And that's the crux of the issue. Ultimately, the success of the agenda will be judged not on what is declared in 2015, but on what is delivered by 2030.

For example, the commitment to 'leave no-one behind' is the single, most transformative shift of this global agenda. Governments have agreed to see all Goals and targets met by all nations, all peoples and all segments of society. This represents a radically new way of viewing and doing development - in the words of the Declaration, putting the 'furthest behind first'. But the principle isn't enough, we need to see it applied, practically. To be able to look back in 2030 and see no one being left behind by virtue of their gender, age, disability, income, geography, ethnicity or other status we need to act now.

So, the September SDG Summit needs to match celebration with substance. Any Head of State looking to lock-in their hero status should attend the SDG Summit and set out their plan for how to translate the global agenda into domestic action. That would make the Summit truly historic.

The job is done ... now the work needs to begin.