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Sustainable Development Goals

Volume 592: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2015

8. What steps she is taking to ensure that the UK plays a leading role in preparations to set new UN development goals in September 2015. (907434)

The UK plays a leading role internationally at the EU and UN and bilaterally to push for an ambitious and implementable post-2015 framework. As the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra) will know, the first session of intergovernmental negotiations on the SDGs has concluded, and the open working group proposal includes 17 goals and 169 targets. We support the breadth and balance of the proposal but will be arguing for a much more concise and workable agenda as negotiations progress.

Millennium development goal 3 was to promote gender equality and empower women. Will the Secretary of State be championing the inclusion in the new SDGs of texts on ending violence against women and girls and supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as statements in the declaration of the commission on the status of women?

Absolutely—yes. The Government play a leading role in raising the issue of violence against women and girls, and I pay tribute to the amazing work done by the then Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague). I can assure her that we will continue to play that role.

The Secretary of State has already indicated the complexity of the goals under discussion. What steps are being taken to ensure effective integration of the different goals, particularly the proposed target on under-fives mortality and those on water, sanitation and hygiene, given that most diarrhoeal diseases result from a lack of investment in that sector?

I very much agree with the hon. Lady. The key to success in getting a sensible outcome for a new post-2015 framework is to ensure that it is not a shopping list, but that it actually works as an overall strategy to bring change on the ground and lift people out of poverty over the next 15 years.