The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are in principle voluntary and so are not binding. This means there will be no consequences should certain countries not achieve certain goals. The political and moral pressure to achieve the Agenda, however, is significant. Moreover, many SDGs refer to existing international agreements, which are legally binding, such as ILO conventions around decent work or Human Rights, for example.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets are broader in scope and go further than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people. These goals cover the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic growth, social Inclusion and environmental protection. Building on the success and momentum of the MDGs, the new global goals cover more ground with ambitions to address inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, cities and human settlements, industrialization, energy, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, peace and justice. The new goals are universal and apply to all countries, whereas the MDGs were intended for action in developing countries only. A core feature of the SDGs has been the means of implementation–the mobilization of financial resources– as well as capacity–building and the transfer of environmentally sound technologies. The new goals recognize that tackling climate change is essential for sustainable development and poverty eradication.