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By Paul Walsh

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was delighted to partner with UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) this spring to moderate a global e-discussion on the 2015 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) theme: “Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): What it will take.”

The proposed SDGs aim to mobilize governments, businesses, civil society organizations, and academia to end extreme poverty in all its forms and accelerate sustainable development pathways. So far, the international community’s attention has been focused on defining goals, targets, and indicators. This focus must now be broadened to consider how these groups can act cohesively realize the SDGs for the period of 2016 to 2030.

The UN Secretary-General, in his synthesis report – The Road to Dignity by 2030 – suggests four levels of implementation and monitoring for the SDGs: national, regional, global, and thematic. The report calls for “a culture of shared responsibility, one based on agreed universal norms, global commitments, shared rules and evidence, collective action and benchmarking for progress.”

The e-discussion addressed the overall post-2015 theme through the following four thematic windows:

I: Policy choices and mind-set change for an integrated agenda

II: Required adaptation by institutions, structures and individuals

III: Partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs and the post-2015 agenda

IV: Monitoring and review

The e-discussion provided a unique opportunity to formulate critical policy messages and recommendations for the Secretary-General and ECOSOC. Contributions mainly came from academia, practitioners and policy-makers. I moderated the Monitoring and review thematic discussion and saw excellent input from Columbia’s Master students in Environmental Science & Policy and Development Practice, as well as members of the Global Association of Masters of Development Practice and members of the SDSN globally.

Contributions made by e-discussion participants will be included in a summary of the e-discussion posted on the ECOSOC website. The contributions will also be channeled through the report of the Secretary-General in support of the Council’s deliberations on the successful transition from the MDGs to the SDGs during its high-level segment in July 2015, of which the Ministerial Declaration is a key output.