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Thomas Pogge

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Thomas Pogge

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an ambitious declaration of global aspirations, ranging from eliminating poverty, hunger, and violence against women, to providing legal identity to every person in the world. The SDGs are meant to apply to every country of the world while the MDGs targeted developing countries alone. This important shift transforms the concept of 'development' into one that is pertinent not only to the global South, but to all countries, rich and poor. The SDGs also provide clear recognition to several critical issues that were either overlooked or not explicitly named in the MDGs, including inequality and climate change. Despite these clear positives, however, the SDGs are undermined by a major structural defect. Individual goals, as well as the platform as a whole, contain loopholes that allow, if not incentivise, states and other duty-bearers to evade their most significant obligations. Among other things, the SDGs do not identify actors responsible for specific goals, and do not provide for objective and precise progress measurement. Given that voluntary agreements like the SDGs cannot be legally enforced and must rely, instead, on moral force, such ambiguities and omissions stand to compromise the agenda as a whole, turning it into more of a wish list than a driver of effective policy change.