Photo Credit: Asian Development Bank


World leaders agreed on a set of targets aimed at wiping out extreme poverty by 2030 while protecting the planet and fostering economic equity, with extensive groundwork conducted by WRI.

At the United Nations on September 25, 2015, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will shape the international development agenda for the next 15 years. The 17 goals and 169 targets are the result of an unprecedented global conversation on the three pillars of sustainable development: economy, equity and ecology. WRI has been an essential voice in that international conversation and led several dialogues leading up to the adoption of the SDGs.

By establishing the Independent Research Forum, a group of 11 think tanks from developed and developing countries, WRI helped bridge perception gaps between the global North and South on sustainable development. Between 2013 and 2015, WRI organized seven retreats for member state negotiators to create a safe space to unpack complex issues around concepts of universality, differentiation, setting transformative goals, accountability, and finance for sustainable development, while focusing on key issues on the development agenda, from food security to water to the impact of climate change.

These retreats were hugely influential to negotiators, according to Kitty van der Heijden, director, WRI Europe.

At UN conferences on sustainable development, finance, disaster risk reduction and climate change, WRI’s work was reflected in the interconnected, interdependent and universal nature of the new goals. This marks a departure from earlier development models, in which the developed world provided finance to enable action by the developing world. The SDGs set the world on a new course that will require all countries to participate and contribute to a more comprehensive approach to economic development.

“We can only reach a balance between economy, ecology and equity when we do it together.”

Kitty van der Heijden

Director, WRI Europe