SDG 16 History

A few years before the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expired in 2015, governments, activists, researchers and UN organisations started reflecting whether it would be useful to extend the timeframe of the MDGs or to come up with a new set goals for the world. Against this backdrop, in 2012, 20 years after the first Rio Conference, countries gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). At Rio+20, countries agreed to launch a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals, led by governments themselves. To this end, they agreed to set up a 30-seat Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly.

Far more than 30 countries were interested in being part of the OWG, so they had to negotiate their seats. During this period, the UN Secretary General decided to facilitate an inclusive consultation process collecting people’s views from across the world on how they wanted to see their world change within the next fifteen years, by 2030. When the OWG was set up and countries started drafting and then negotiating the new goals, the UN's role was to provide member states with evidence, analyses and practical experiences. This section describes how the three stages of the post-2015 process (Consultations, Open Working Group and Negotiations) shaped what was to become Sustainable Development Goal 16.

Photo credit: @LeiPhyu / UNDP

Browse Key Resources on the History of SDG 16