B026 Embracing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Original version

Resolved, the House of ______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church embrace the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as the successor to the Millennium Development Goals; and be it further

Resolved, That the Sustainable Development Goals become the basis of development policy and action of the Episcopal Church in its institutions, dioceses, and congregations; and be it further

Resolved, That 0.7% of the budget for the Episcopal Church adopted at the 79th General Convention be devoted to development projects shaped by the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals, during the triennium 2019 – 2021.


The Millennium Development Goals were adopted by the United Nations in the year 2000. The goals were as follows:

Millennium Development Goals
1. eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
2. achieve universal primary education;
3. promote gender equality and empower women;
4. reduce child mortality;
5. improve maternal health;
6. combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
7. ensure environmental stability [sic]; and
8. develop a global partnership for development

The world made significant progress using the Millennium Development Goals by the target year of 2015, yet the results were not as robust as had been hoped. In part, this lack of success was due to underfunding by signatory nations. In addition, however, analysis indicated that the Millennium Development Goal program could be improved. A summary of results over the fifteen year period of the Millennium Development Goals activities follows:
• Nearly 1 billion people moved out of extreme poverty between 1999-2013. Yet an estimated 767 million people lived below the extreme poverty line in 2013.

• The global stunting rate of children under 5 fell by 10%, from 33% in 2000 to 23% in 2016, meaning an estimated 155 million children were stunted in 2016 because they did not receive the nutrition they need.

• Fewer women and babies are dying. Between 2000 and 2015, maternal deaths dropped by 37%, and under-5 child deaths by 44%. However, still in 2015, 303,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth and 5.9 million children under age 5 died – mostly from preventable causes.

• In 2014, only 9% of children of primary school age were out of school. The news is mixed though, as progress has virtually stalled since 2008.

• Child marriage is declining, but not quickly enough. Around 2000, nearly 1 in 3 women between 20 and 24 years of age reported that they were married before 18 years of age. Around 2015, the ratio was just over 1 in 4.

• In 2015, 2.9 billion people used a safely managed sanitation service, but still 892 million people openly defecate.

• The number of people with access to electricity grew from 77.6% in 2000 to 85.3% in 2014; yet, more than 1 billion people still don’t have electricity.

• The global unemployment rate fell from 6.1% in 2010 to 5.7% in 2016. Yet, youth (aged 15 to 24 years) were nearly three times more likely than adults to be without a job.

• From 2010 to 2015, the annual net loss of forest area globally was less than half that of the 1990s. Yet the proportion of marine stocks that are overfished has been on the rise, from 10% in 1974 to 31% in 2013.

Official development assistance (ODA) reached a new high in 2016 at $142.6 billion, yet bilateral aid to the poorest countries fell by 3.9%. (source: United Nations Statistics Department)

Based on what had been learned from using the Millennium Development Goals world-wide from 2000 – 2015, the United Nations created the Sustainable Development Goals as a refined, more powerful tool for guiding development. The consultation process leading to the SDGs was more comprehensive than that which resulted in the MDGs – some 5 million people took part in the consultation that created the SDGs. The aim of the SDGs too is more universal in nature – the 2030 agenda pledges to reach “the furthest behind first.” (Source: Jakob Trollbäck, World Economic Forum) The SDGs are 17 in number, compared to the eight of the MDGs, and the expanded number includes such paramount areas as climate and environment, missing from the earlier MDGs.

The Episcopal Church committed itself to the Millennium Development Goals in General Convention resolutions in 2003 (D006), 2006 (D022) and 2015 (A021). The Church’s commitment was intellectual, moral, spiritual, and also financial – at the Church-wide level 0.7% of the annual budget was given to Millennium Development Goals-guided projects (overseen by Episcopal Relief and Development). At the 78th General Convention, A021 extended the 0.7% giving beyond the target year of 2015, but did not specifically name the Sustainable Development Goals.

This resolution makes clear that the SDGs should serve as the template, going forward for development efforts in the Episcopal Church.

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