What kind of world do we want to live in? It’s a question that matters to all of us, and a question at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda that will guide global development efforts after 2015.

Yesterday, a panel of 27 world leaders submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a report with recommendations for this agenda.  As John Podesta, a U.S. member of the panel has said, the report is the “first chapter rather than the last word on the post-2015 agenda.”  So I want to take a moment to explain what this agenda is, how it’s coming together, why it matters, and most importantly, how you can get involved.

First though, some background.

In 2000, world leaders gathered at the United Nations and adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight goals to improve the lives of the world’s poorest by addressing challenges including extreme poverty, education, and maternal and child health, among others.  The MDGs set concrete goals to achieve by the end of 2015.  For example, MDG 1 calls for halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger.

The MDGs mobilized the international community around a common framework.  UN agencies, governments, civil society, the private sector, and concerned citizens have come together to make incredible progress: extreme poverty has been cut in half, more children than ever are in primary school, and child deaths have dropped significantly.  While we’ve come far, we must continue the momentum in the 944 days until the target date to achieve the MDGs.


At the same time, world leaders are also planning for what comes after 2015. Earlier this week, I had the chance to talk about the post-2015 development agenda with Minh-Thu Pham, the UN Foundation’s Director of Public Policy.  Here are some excerpts from our conversation.

Jenni: What is the post-2015 development agenda?

Minh-Thu: Simply put, the post-2015 development agenda will be a set of common development goals for the world after 2015.  These goals will provide a roadmap for what we want to get done and how we’re going to do it.

The Millennium Development Goals have been a powerful tool to galvanize action, target resources, and get results.  Yet, old challenges remain and new ones have emerged, so the world is trying to figure out what that new set of goals should look like after the target date for the MDGs.

Jenni: How will the agenda be decided?  Can you walk me through the process?

Minh-Thu: Everyone can and should play a role in the process.  The UN has launched an effort to try and bring in as many voices as possible, including non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and public citizens who care about these issues.

There have been, and will continue to be, lots of conversations going on around the world about the post-2015 agenda.  For example, the UN Secretary-General appointed a high-level panel of 27 eminent people to give him recommendations.  At the same time, a group of countries are also coming up with their own recommendations.  At the end of the day, all of these ideas will feed into world leaders’ thinking about what they want to do.  Negotiations will continue in the coming years, and in 2015, leaders will come together at a UN summit to agree on the next set of goals and how to achieve them.

Jenni: Why should the post-2015 development agenda matter to people?

Minh-Thu: The post-2015 agenda will express our collective vision for the world we want to live in.  This is an opportunity to once again bring the world together to drive progress on some of our greatest challenges and opportunities, such as eradicating extreme poverty in our lifetimes and ensuring the sustainability of our planet.

Challenges around the world are not limited by borders.  As former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, there are “problems without passports” – climate change, poverty, regional instability, disease.  We have to work together to try to tackle them, and the post-2015 agenda is really a blueprint to do that.

Sometimes lost amid the data and discussions is the people.  At its core, the post-2015 development agenda, like the MDGs, is about improving the lives of people around the world.

Jenni: How can individuals and non-governmental organizations get involved in the process?

Minh-Thu: Everyone can and most certainly should get involved in the process.  Anyone can go to MyWorld2015.org and fill out the survey to tell global leaders what your priorities are.  You can also join the conversation about the post-2015 agenda at WorldWeWant2015.org.

You should also contact your policymakers and leaders to let them know what issues you think are important.  Contribute your own expertise and programs, and be part of a global conversation.  Dialogues are happening all over the world, including at the national level and online – make sure your voice is heard.  Finally, follow the UN to find out what is happening and how you can engage.