The post-2015 development agenda aspires to global transformation. Its content so far, including the set of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) agreed in last year’s Open Working Group, affirms that aim through an unprecedented commitment to inclusion, sustainability and universality. This suggests that the world might finally move beyond current imbalanced patterns of consumption and production that have left wide swathes of human deprivation and pushed the limits of planetary boundaries.
Yet the main question, after the most recent intergovernmental negotiations on the agenda in March in New York, is: will the political process live up to the agenda’s promise? It is still early days in forging global consensus, but given the stakes at hand, momentum is critical. Will governments and all other actors exercise the kind of visionary leadership and risk-taking that transformation demands? Or will they fall back on protecting familiar vested interests and avoid risk by seeking easier, quicker agreement? Does the calculation of political risk overwhelm the very urgent imperative to take serious action on urgent issues—namely, the long-term survival of people and the planet?