There are two reasons why the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are being securitized – 1) the hard lessons learned while implementing the Millennium Development Goals, and 2) a growing conviction that sustainable development and security are inextricably linked.
The United Nations’ blueprints for the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reveal an interesting trend. Whereas the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focused exclusively on development initiatives, the SDGs look set to interweave security into what was once solely a development sphere with the inclusion of objectives that seek to secure supply chains, end poaching and protect infrastructure. This shift reflects lessons learned from 15 years of implementing the MDGs and, even more so, broader global trends to integrate security and development initiatives.
Since their implementation in 2000, the MDGs have produced significant results, notably in reducing world poverty by 50 percent. Significant roadblocks have also been encountered, especially in enacting change in unstable and conflict-ridden parts of the world. In fact, the MDGs’ successes and struggles can be directly correlated with the security of the regions in which they’re operating. The World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report notes that “no low-income, fragile or conflict-affected country has yet to achieve a single United Nations Millennium Development Goal.” This intrinsic link between security and development has led the international development community writ large to realize that their singular capacity to alleviate poverty is greatly reduced, and that the need to work across sectors is greater than ever.
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