What targets will improve the lives of children across the world?

2015 will be a year to remember: this coming September, world leaders are set to pass a new global development agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This agenda will drive action and investment in every country over the next 15 years.

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aspire to be universal in scope and transformational in nature for both people and planet.

For this to happen, children must be at the heart of the new agenda and have voice in defining and implementing it. As UN Member States move towards the critical stage of negotiating the final iteration of the new framework for sustainable development, UNICEF has released a set of two-page “issue briefs” that articulate essential targets for children and future generations.

These two-pagers are intended to be a tool for Governments and other key decision-makers in the forthcoming negotiations and beyond. Using the watershed report of the Open Working Group on SDGs as a foundation, we have culled the targets most critical to the lives of children and young people, using the language of the OWG targets to the extent possible, but also offering refinements to that language that will maximize results and ensure the targets are both ambitious and measurable. All briefs also include a short narrative and provide key evidence; outlining a sound and convincing argument for why these issues are a critical component of the new agenda.

2015 must be a year of global action for children. Politicians… CEOs…parents…academics…children and young people — we all have a vested interest in seeing the passage of a global development agenda that succeeds. In fact, it is an existential issue for our communities, our planet and future generations.

The new SDGs must take what was started in the MDG era to the next level. We need move from reducing to eradicating extreme poverty – especially for children who are disproportionately affected — so that no child in left behind by the march of progress. We must also move beyond measures that only look at income.

While great progress has been made to reduce child and maternal mortality, especially in the last two decades, we need to move towards effectively ending the global human tragedy of children dying from preventable causes or mothers dying giving birth. In education, we need to ensure access for children that continue to be excluded, such as girls, children with disabilities, children affected by emergencies and indigenous children. And we must work harder to ensure that all children are not only attending school, but learning while they are there. We need to ensure that all children have access to nutritious food and basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene – in their homes, schools and in health facilities.

Additionally, the new agenda must be bold in taking on issues not addressed in the MDGs like protection of children from violence, exploitation and abuse and addressing inequalities that — every day — rob children of their chance to achieve their full potential — especially those children already marginalized. To not make progress on these issues denies the individual child his or her rights, but also deprives our entire human family of the intellectual, social, moral and economic benefits that derive from the fulfilment of these rights.

Getting the right plan in place is the critical first step on the long and challenging journey of fulfilling these aspirations. UNICEF remains committed to seeing through a successful SDG agenda: for today’s children, tomorrow’s children and the planet we all inhabit.


  1. Children’s Rights
  2. The Rights of Children with Disabilities
  3. Child Poverty
  4. Maternal and Child Nutrition
  5. Breastfeeding
  6. Early Childhood Development (ECD)
  7. Child Survival and Healthy Development
  8. Achieving an AIDS Free Generation
  9. Protection of Children from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse
  10. Equitable and Inclusive Quality Education and Lifelong Learning for All
  11. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
  12. Gender Equality and Girls’ and Women’s Empowerment
  13. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
  14. Environmental Sustainability

Nicholas Alipui is the Director and Senior Adviser on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

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