Governments came together in Rio to agree on basic principles and process forward for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the foundations for the process is that it should not divert attention, funding or other resources from accelerating progress towards the current set of 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This MDG process and the related MDG review process are one track for the time pre-2015.
Reviewing the 2015 goals is good, but we need to also plan for the future. The post-2015 process aims to design a global development framework to succeed the MDGs in 2015. This thinking obviously needs to happen now, rather than after 2015. The UN has already set these wheels in motion even before the SDGs appeared on the horizon. Last year they appointed a UN task team on post-2015 that produced a report on the post-2015 roadmap which will be published shortly. A UN high-level panel on post 2015 was appointed with three co-chairs and further members to be announced after Rio+20. Further, the UN SG appointed a Special Advisor on post-2015, and post-2015 stakeholder consultations have already begun to take place.
From its onset, the SDGs were meant to be part of this post-2015 track. Columbia was clear about that and so was everybody else. SDGs are meant to ensure that the post-2015 development framework, the new set of goals, will genuinely integrate environment and poverty concerns. Hence it is paramount that Rio+20 indicates clearly how and when the SDG process will be integrated into the post-2015 track.
This is where it gets tricky. At the moment Rio+20 runs the risk of setting up a third track. This should be avoided at all costs. Having one SDG process in addition to the existing post-2015 process would be a waste of time, effort and resources and will lead to duplication, confusion and delays. And after all, creating a third track poses very real risks of distracting from achieving track one, the current set of MDGs.