UN Week kicks off on a high note on Friday, with the opening of a special summit on the Sustainable Development Goals. Pope Francis will be one of the first to address the summit on Friday morning. President Obama is helping to close the session on Sunday. In between are over 150 speakers, mostly heads of state.

The SDG summit is a very big deal for the United Nations, and quite possibly for all of humanity. It is the culmination of over two years of negotiations over what should replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of this year.

The SDGs — or, the “Global Goals,” as the advocacy community has taken to calling them — are an aspirational set of 17 goals and 169 targets that every country on the planet is pledging to work toward from now until 2030. The top goal is nothing less than the total eradication of extreme poverty (as defined by people living on $1.25 per day), and each of the goals have embedded in them principles of environmental sustainability.

It’s a massively ambitious agenda and if it’s achieved, life for most of the 8 billion on earth in 2030 will be vastly improved.

On the line with me to discuss these goals, their likelihood of success and how we can measure progress is John McArthur. He is a fellow at Brookings at with the United Nations Foundation and has been studying the SDGs since their inception.  This is a great conversation, and nicely sets up not just the coming few days at the UN, but also the coming few years of a new international development agenda in pursuit of these global goals.

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