September 19, 2014 | By Bryan Lee and Julia Schroer

Over the last 14 years, the world has witnessed an unprecedented effort to end extreme poverty in all forms, an effort guided by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2015, the world will reconvene to discuss lessons learned and to develop the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as successors to the MDGs.

The 2nd Annual International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice commenced this week to discuss evidence-based solutions that can support the SDSN leadership in shaping the Post-2015 Agenda. Over 350 students, practitioners, academics, and government officials converged on Columbia University in New York to attend the conference.

The event was held by the Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice Programs (MDP) in collaboration with the SDSN and included keynotes from Frannie Leautier, Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Mkoba Private Equity Fund; Jeffrey Sachs, Director of SDSN and Earth Institute; and Erik Solheim, Head of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

Frannie Leautier, CEO of Mkoba Private Equity, emphasized the role of business in sustainable development. She argued that small and medium size businesses “can do a tremendous job towards contributing to the post-2015 agenda” by leading the world in creating and adopting environmentally friendly technologies.

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the SDSN and Earth Institute, examined civil strife has acted as a barrier to development and urged an end to all hostilities. Sachs placed this responsibility on world leaders and stated that “we need the role of the state to be, not for war, but for sustainable development.”

A new component of the ICSDP this year was a two-part series on Careers in Sustainable Development. A wide variety of organizations participated, including: One Acre Fund, Chemonics International, International Relief & Development, Concern Worldwide, Caja Rural Los Andes, USAID, McKinsey & Company and Developing Radio Partners. Future conferences will continue to grow and formalize the element of professional recruitment, both for internships and jobs, for the uniquely qualified MDP students.

“The presentations and participation of MDP students at ICSDP leave no doubt that a new generation of development practitioners has been created,” said Claire Reid, Director University of Winnipeg.

After months of planning and hundreds of hours of hard work from event staff and volunteers, the ICSDP 2014 has been a great success and students, alumni, professors and practitioners alike look forward to what next year will have in store.

Bryan Lee and Julia Schroer are students in the Master of Development Practice (MDP) program at Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Ireland. This post was written with contributions from Rochelle Haw.