An Action Agenda for Sustainable Development is a report of 23 October, 2013 prepared for the UN Secretary General by the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which engages scientists, engineers, business and civil society leaders, and development practitioners for evidence-based problem solving.
The report identifies four dimensions of sustainable development:
(i) the right to development for every country,
(ii) human rights and social inclusion,
(iii) convergence of living standards across countries, and
(iv) shared responsibilities and opportunities.
Ten interconnected priority challenges each contributes to the four dimensions of sustainable development:
(1) End Extreme Poverty Including Hunger: End extreme poverty in all its forms, including hunger, child stunting, malnutrition, and food insecurity; and support highly vulnerable countries (MDGs 1-7).
(2) Achieve Development within Planetary Boundaries: All countries have a right to development that respects planetary boundaries, ensures sustainable production and consumption patterns, and helps to stabilize the global population by mid-century.
(3) Ensure Effective Learning for All Children and Youth for Life and Livelihood: All girls and boys complete affordable and high-quality early childhood development programs, primary, and secondary education to prepare them for the challenges of modern life and decent livelihoods. All youth and adults have access to continuous lifelong learning to acquire functional literacy, numeracy, and skills to earn a living through decent employment or self-employment.
(4) Achieve Gender Equality, Social Inclusion, and Human Rights for All: Ensure gender equality, human rights, the rule of law, and universal access to public services. Reduce relative poverty and other inequalities that cause social exclusion. Prevent and eliminate violence and exploitation, especially for women and children.
(5) Achieve Health and Wellbeing at All Ages: All countries achieve universal health coverage at every stage of life, with particular emphasis on primary health services, including mental and reproductive health, to ensure that all people receive quality health services without suffering financial hardship. Countries implement policies to create enabling social conditions that promote the health of populations and help individuals make healthy and sustainable decisions related to their daily living.
(6) Improve Agriculture Systems and Raise Rural Prosperity: Improve farming practices, rural infrastructure, and access to resources for food production to increase productivity of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries, raise smallholder incomes, reduce environmental impacts, promote rural prosperity, and ensure resilience to climate change.
(7) Empower Inclusive, Productive and Resilient Cities: Make all cities socially inclusive, economically productive, environmentally sustainable, secure, and resilient to climate change and other risks. Develop participatory, accountable, and effective city governance to support rapid and equitable urban transformation.
(8) Curb Human-Induced Climate Change and Ensure Sustainable Energy: Curb greenhouse gas emissions from energy, industry, agriculture, built environment, and land--use change to ensure a peak of global CO2 emissions by 2020 and to head off the rapidly growing dangers of climate change. Promote sustainable energy for all.
(9) Secure Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity, and Ensure Good Management of Water and Other Natural Resources: Biodiversity, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems of local, regional and global significance are inventoried, managed, and monitored to ensure the continuation of resilient and adaptive life support systems and to support sustainable development. Water and other natural resources are managed sustainably and transparently to support inclusive economic and human development.
(10) Transform Governance for Sustainable Development: The public sector, business, and other stakeholders commit to good governance, including transparency, accountability, access to information, participation, an end to tax and secrecy havens, and efforts to stamp out corruption. The international rules governing international finance, trade, corporate reporting, technology, and intellectual property are made consistent with achieving the SDGs. The financing of poverty reduction and global public goods including efforts to head off climate change are strengthened and based on a graduated set of global rights and responsibilities.
The world has changed profoundly since 2000 when the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted. In particular, five shifts will make the coming fifteen-year period, 2015-2030, different from the MDG period ending in 2015:
(i) The feasibility of ending extreme poverty in all its forms,
(ii) A drastically higher human impact on the physical Earth,
(iii) Rapid technological change,
(iv) Increasing inequality and
(v) A growing diffusion and complexity of governance.
The SDSN supports the Rio+20 vision of sustainable development as a holistic concept addressing four dimensions of society: economic development (including the end of extreme poverty), social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and good governance including peace and security.
The report argues that the world needs an operational sustainable development framework that can mobilize all key actors (national and local governments, civil society, business, science, and academia) in every country (developed and developing) to move away from the Business-as-Usual (BAU) trajectory towards a truly Sustainable Development (SD) path.