What are the SDGs?

In September 2015, the United Nations signed up to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (external link) and 169 targets.

The 17 goals and 169 targets set out a universal agenda to achieve sustainable development globally, known as Agenda 2030. They bring together the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. They apply to all countries.

The goals build on the lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals, which focused specifically on developing countries.

What do they mean for New Zealand?

New Zealand will contribute to achievement of the goals through a combination of domestic action, international leadership on global policy issues, and supporting countries through the New Zealand Aid Programme.

In New Zealand

Achieving the SDGs will require a cross-Government effort. New Zealand government agencies are reviewing the goals and their alignment with existing Government priorities. This analysis will inform a discussion on how New Zealand focuses its efforts.

At a UN meeting on Implementation of the SDGs, Minister for Climate Change Issues, Paula Bennett, identified issues that are of greatest importance to New Zealanders, and where the New Zealand Government is focussing its work. These include:

  • growing the economy
  • improving living standards
  • health and education
  • creating jobs
  • increasing the supply of affordable housing
  • encouraging women in leadership
  • keeping our communities safe, and
  • protecting our environment

The private sector and civil society can also help reach the goals. Already a number of NGOs and businesses are considering how their work helps, and are engaging productively with government agencies.

Through global policy influence

Achieving outcomes will rely on action at the global level. New Zealand will contribute to this through our international leadership on issues such as:

  • elimination of fisheries subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
  • eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies
  • promoting an open, rules-based trading system under the WTO
  • advocating for small island developing states
  • promoting the Global Research Alliance
  • maintaining special focus on oceans issues

Through aid investment

The New Zealand Aid Programme is well-positioned to support our partner countries’ achievement of the SDGs through its focus on sustainable economic development and complementary investments in education, health, governance and resilience.

We will work with partner countries to support priority targets in areas where New Zealand can be most effective.

This is in line with the call made by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully (external link), during the adoption of the SDGs for a targeted approach, focused on practical outcomes in order to make a tangible difference.

The Minister identified renewable energy and fisheries as “game-changers” for the Pacific region.

The Aid Programme is supporting ambitious targets for the region in terms of expanded access to affordable, reliable and clean energy and increased economic and food security benefits from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

How do we measure success?

Although the goals are not legally binding, countries are expected to report voluntarily on implementation.

New Zealand has emphasised the importance of measuring and tracking effectively their implementation without adding additional layers of bureaucracy.

Officials are currently working across different agencies to coordinate indicators and results measurement and reporting systems.

Policy priorities

New Zealand’s development effort involves leadership and coordination on policy issues alongside aid funding. Our aid efforts are more likely to succeed if partner countries have effective policies in place. Therefore, engaging with partner governments on policy issues is an important part of our development work.  We're a champion internationally for development issues affecting small island developing states. Domestically, we advocate for development-friendly New Zealand policy.

We have six priorities for our policy work:

  • We advocate, at the global level, for policies that support sustainable development in small island developing states.
  • We engage with Pacific partners on economic and social policies that promote sustainable development and effective implementation.
  • We work with partners to improve donor coordination in the Pacific.
  • We strengthen the development impact of New Zealand’s domestic and international policy positions. 
  • We work with the Pacific to develop effective regional approaches to regional issues.
  • We negotiate and implement policy agreements that improve the ability of Pacific Island countries to trade in goods, services and labour.

Recent Events

New Zealand was represented in New York at the first High-level Political Forum under the Economic and Social Commission to consider progress reports from member countries. Read the New Zealand statement

Samoa was the first country in our region to undertake its “national voluntary report (external link)”, reflecting strong capacity and political will to make an early contribution to the global discussion on implementation.