Years of preparation and negotiation have culminated in the official adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a series of targets that all United Nations’ Member States will use in their planning from 2016 to 2030.

They will replace the eight Millennium Development Goals, which focused on issues such as poverty and hunger, universal education, and the reduction of child and maternal deaths – issues which applied mostly to the world’s poorest countries. The SDGs, which were officially adopted in New York on Friday, contain additional targets on good governance, peace and security, sustainable consumption and lifelong learning, for example, and are equally applicable to all countries around the world.

The Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals

Islamic Relief has fed into the process to define the goals and targets through high-level meetings, hosting events to explain our view, sharing the views of the people we work with across the world, and developing faith-literate responses to key issues. We used our publication Lessons from Islamic finance for socially, economically, and environmentally just outcomes in the Financing for Sustainable Development process to argue that if the Sustainable Development Goals were to be effective, they must be inclusive of the needs of all. In 2014, furthermore, before the UN General Assembly met to debate the goals, we called for a world without inequality; full and meaningful participation of all people; the guarantee of human rights and access to justice; action to address climate change; environmental sustainability; and a robust, comprehensive and participatory accountability framework.

The intricacy of development

Shamila Mahmood, policy and research coordinator for Islamic Relief Worldwide, said: “The final SDGs are very much in line with our work, and the sheer number of goals goes some way to showing the complexity of the problems we work with, and the world of which we are all part.

“The Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) emphasise the rights of people who are poor, and obligate Muslims to spend their wealth to assist the poor. There is every reason for us to welcome the adoption of these goals and we do so wholeheartedly.”

The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said: “O people! Give in charity as a time will come upon you when a person will wander about with his object of charity and will not find anybody to accept it, and one (who will be requested to take it) will say, ‘If you had brought it yesterday, would have taken it, but to-day I am not in need of it.’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Islamic Relief is part of several coalitions campaigning and working to end extreme poverty and has joined the faith community and World Bank to commit to ending extreme poverty by 2030. We have already started aligning our policies, strategies and programmes with the SDGs to help achieve all the targets by 2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals were constructed after a large consultation programme. A working group, with representatives from 70 countries, began meeting in 2013, publishing the first draft of goals and targets around a year later. The final wording of the goals was not agreed on until August 2015.