Giving Compass' Take:

 Kharas and McArthur discuss a on the Sustainable Development Goals and how "leave no one behind (LNOB)" objectives can be implemented.

What does the distinction between economic development and "leaving no one behind" mean to your giving? Who in your community is being excluded from progress? 

• Read about evaluating progress toward the SDGs.

World leaders are gathering in New York this week to attend the first major stocktaking summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). When the SDGs were agreed by all countries in 2015, they were intended to help countries accelerate their transition to more sustainable paths by 2030, with sustainability understood to include economic, environmental, and social issues. As part of this, all countries committed to “leave no one behind (LNOB),” a broad promise to address the pervasive and damaging problems of inequality and exclusion.

Inclusion demands attention on the underlying reasons why highly marginalized people are being left behind in the first place. It suggests a shift from big picture thinking about national or regional trends to much more precise thinking about the challenges faced by individual people in the communities where they live.

Simply put, an LNOB agenda is not necessarily synonymous with a national development agenda. To illustrate the point, consider the example of Canada. It is a country that has made huge achievements in its long-term national development, but still faces profound LNOB challenges.

The global development community must target its interventions better and be more specific about what outcomes are to be expected from any given project or program. We argue that the best way to put teeth into the LNOB agenda, both domestically and internationally, is to reframe the relevant SDG targets more precisely—on specific people facing specific problems in specific places. Our book, Leave No One Behind: Time for Specifics on the Sustainable Development Goals, is not comprehensive but suggests a way of designing the questions to be more actionable.

Clear, crisp goals with specific outcomes and strategies for collective contributions can elicit strong and widespread support. These are key ingredients for shifting the LNOB mantra from words to results.

Read the full article about leaving no one behind objectives for sustainable development by Homi Kharas and John McArthur at Brookings.