The process to develop the SDGs was launched by the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (‘Rio+20’) in June 2012. The idea of the SDGs was first proposed in 2011 by Colombia and Guatemala. In the run-up to Rio+20, the SDGs were championed by other countries, including Peru and the UAE.
The negotiating process on the SDGs was first carried out in an Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), which met 13 times in 2013-2014 and in which the UAE held a seat. The UAE participated in the OWG representing the Asia-Pacific region via a seat shared with Cyprus and Singapore. The UAE provided substantive input on issues such as energy, education, global partnership, health, water and women’s empowerment. The UAE also represented the Arab Group in these negotiations.
The SDGs were finalized in August 2015, after eight sessions of intergovernmental negotiations. At the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, which formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UAE highlighted access to clean energy, alongside sufficient and affordable food, quality education and healthcare, sustainable economic growth, healthy ecosystems and increased resource efficiencies, as issues that resonate strongly with the country. The UAE also pledged to ‘leave no one behind’ and ‘shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path’.
Further, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, participated in the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP), which produced a report titled Resilient People, Resilient Planet as a key input to the Rio+20 Sumit.