Article – "Goals focus minds": Linda McAvan on Sustainable Development Goals

Countries will this year shape and adopt the development agenda that will build on the Millennium Development Goals. A Parliament delegation will take part in the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York where countries will approve the new goals. Ahead of the plenary debate on Wednesday 16 September, we spoke with development committee chair Linda McAvan, a UK member of the S&D group, about future goals and what has been achieved so far. Watch the debate live from 16.30 CET.

Parliament will be present at the Sustainable Development Summit to be held in New York. How far, or close, are we in mainstreaming such goals in EU policies?

That’s what we need to start doing now. We’ve now got an agreement already on the Sustainable Development Goals from all world leaders and the next big task is to make sure that we inside the European Union implement them.

A new climate change agreement is sought at the December Paris Climate Conference. How can this be achieved without harming the development prospects of the world’s poorest nations?

We know that the world’s poorest countries are the ones which contribute the least to climate change and that’s why in the climate talks we need to focus on the world’s biggest polluters, that’s ourselves and the BRIC countries. We can clean up energy. It doesn’t have to damage our economic growth.

To what extent have the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000 been achieved?

Many of the goals have been achieved. Every year six million children’s lives are now being saved by healthcare measures, the number of malaria deaths has been cut by 58% and the number of HIV deaths has been halved. We see more and more children going to school and in Africa 80% of children now go to school. We have seen big changes. We know that having these goals work as they help to focus minds

Next steps

A UN summit on sustainable development will be held in New York on 25-27 September with the aim of adopting the post-2015 development agenda. A delegation of MEPs, including Linda McAvan, will take part in the summit.

In December 2015, a summit will be held in Paris, France, in order a agree a new international agreement on how to tackle climate change. This summit is called the 1st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), otherwise known as “Paris 2015″.