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Ninth Session of the UNGA Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

Monday, 17 March 2014
The 9th Session of the United General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals was held from 3 to 5 of March 2014, inaugurating the second phase of negotiating and constructing the final SDGs proposal after an eleven months stocktaking process, which occupied the first eight OWG sessions. The second lap is based on two outcome documents that Co-Chairs of the OWG released after the 8th session, the “stocktaking” document of 14th February 2014 and the “focus areas” document of 21st February 2014. The 19 focus areas, which were the basis for discussions at 9th OWG, refer to: poverty eradication; food security and nutrition; health and population dynamics; education; gender equality and women’s empowerment; water and sanitation; energy; economic growth; industrialization; infrastructure; employment and decent work for all; promoting equality; sustainable cities and human settlements; sustainable consumption and production; climate; marine resources, oceans and seas; ecosystems and biodiversity; means of implementation; and peaceful and non-violent societies, capable institutions*.

The first two days of the session the schedule comprised the introduction of the “focus areas” document, comments from and discussion by Member States. The possibilities—and enormity—of the OWG’s task came into greater focus as delegates began to discuss what issues, goals and targets may be included in the final list of SDGs. On the one hand, several participants acknowledged that about 80% of the proposals for goals and targets have broad consensus among Member States. However, on the other hand, they noted that the remaining 20% represent some of the most challenging issues, including means of implementation and broader financing issues, common but differentiated responsibilities, and universality.

On the third day and final of the session, delegates participated in a joint meeting with Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Financing for Sustainable Development (ICESDF)**, where themes of crucial importance such as modus operandi, means of implementation and financial support of SDGs were debated.  The joint meeting was followed by a meeting with Major Groups, where stakeholders and NGOs had the opportunity to deposit their points of view regarding the introduced “focus areas” document.

At the end of the meeting, the Co-Chairs offered to prepare four informational documents to assist delegates in their deliberations at the 10th session of OWG: a slightly amended “focus areas” document reflecting the comments made by delegates at the 9th session that will be released by 19 March; a compendium of existing issue targets on various issues; a matrix of interlinkages between issues; and working definitions of goals, targets, and indicators.

* The “focus areas” document gleans the major issues were raised, without excluding any other subject from the pre negotiation process. Furthermore, it is of auxiliary and non mandatory nature to the final outcome and it aims to the formulation of the SDGs and their means of implementation that will be submitted to the UN General Assembly.
** Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Financing for Sustainable Development (ICEFSD) was established on 21 June 2013 by decision 67/559 of UN General Assembly,

Source: IISD Reporting Services, UNDESA
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