New book out by the mothers of the SDGs - telling the story on how they came to be

 Redefining Development: The Extraordinary Genesis of the Sustainable Development Goals

"This once-in-a-generation detailed insider's look at how a critically important UN decision was made will be valuable to both scholars and students." ―Craig Murphy, Wellesley College

"Bridging the worlds of academia and practice, Caballero and Londoño provide illuminative insights on the role of small countries in shaping the UN development agenda in the broader context of the informal processes of multilateral diplomacy." ―Jacques Fomerand, former director, UNU Office in North America

This extraordinary first-person story of what can be achieved through informal diplomacy traces the improbably successful struggle to achieve acceptance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)―and thus transform the global development agenda―against all odds.

Moving from the framing of the SDGs concept through the entire negotiation process (including a trove of key documents), Paula Caballero and Patti Londoño's vibrant narrative provides rare insight into informal diplomacy and multilateralism in action. Their insiders' account provides a unique perspective on how global movements and agendas can be built and impelled forward. Not least, it also serves to prove that just a few committed individuals can generate radical change.


  • Foreword―Juan Manuel Santos.
  • The Sustainable Development Goals: The Roadmap for Our Time.
    • It Took a Village 
    • The SDGs Genesis 
    • Driving Disruption 
    • Book Overview
  • The Merits of Informal Diplomacy.
    • The Unexpected Beginning 
    • Walking the Hallways 
    • Why Colombia? 
    • From MDGs to SDGs: A Transition 
    • Dogged Determination
  • Getting Governments on Board.
    • The Very First Meeting 
    • The Proposal Gains Traction 
    • Getting a Foothold 
    • Getting the SDGs into the Zero Draft
  • Getting the World to Understand the SDGs.
    • Bringing the World to Bogotá 
    • At the Starting Gate 
    • The Informal Colombian Track 
    • A Country Behind the Proposal 
    • Tarrytown: Kicking Off the Process 
    • Embarking on the Zero Draft Negotiations
  • Positioning the SDGs.
    • Aligning the Global South 
    • Players: A Partial Who’s Who of the Negotiations 
    • February 2012: Staking the Battle Lines
  • A Tortuous Process.
    • The Zero Draft: Basis for the Negotiations 
    • First Round of Informal  imgotiations 
    • Second Round of Informal Informal Negotiations 
    • Third Round of Informal Informal Negotiations 
  • Evolution of the Negotiation Text.
    • Core Issues of the SDGs Negotiations 
    • First Round of Informal Informal Negotiations 
    • Second Round of Informal Informal Negotiations 
    • Third Round of Informal Informal Negotiations
  • Breakthrough in Rio.
    • Backroom Negotiations 
    • Hardening Positions 
    • Last-Minute Derailment Averted 
    • The Final Push
  • Creating the Open Working Group.
    • Creating a Forum for Transformation 
    • Options on the Table 
    • Laying the Groundwork for the OWG 
    • Perseverance and Leadership in Rio de Janeiro 
    • The OWG: A Reality Against All Odds 
    • Postscript
  • Transformative Implementation.
    • The Relevance of the SDGs 
    • A Single Agenda 
    • Lessons from an Improbable Journey 
    • “It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done”


  1. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—A Brief Explanation
  2. Negotiation at the United Nations
  3. First Concept Paper on the SDGs—Colombia, February 8, 2011
  4. Notes from the First Consultation on the SDGs, May 27, 2011
  5. Second Concept Paper on the SDGs—Colombia and Guatemala, August 23, 2011
  6. Executive Coordination Team Compilation of Zero Draft Submissions, November 1, 2011
  7. Chair’s Summary—Bogotá Consultations on the SDGs Proposal, November 4–5, 2011
  8. Third Concept Paper on the SDGs—Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru, December 13, 2011
  9. Chair’s Summary of the Tarrytown Retreat on the SDGs— Tarrytown, NY, January 23–24, 2012
  10. Co-Chairs’ Draft—The Future We Want, January 10, 2012
  11. G77 and China Zero Draft Text, March 5, 2012
  12. March 27, 2012, Section B at 6 p.m.—Negotiation Text
  13. Co-Chairs Consolidated Suggested Negotiation Text, March 28, 2012 Negotiation Text, May 2, 2012, 10 p.m.
  14. Section B—Negotiation Text, May 4, 2012, 4 p.m.
  15. Negotiation Text, May 22, 2012 
  16. Negotiation Text, May 30, 2012, 6 p.m.
  17. Negotiation Text, June 2, 2012, 5 p.m.
  18.  OWG Proposed Text—G77 and China Coordinator, June 14, 2012
  19. Facilitator’s Proposed Negotiation Text, June 15, 2012
  20.  Brazilian Presidency Proposed Negotiation Text, June 16, 2012
  21. Fourth Concept Paper on SDGs—Colombia, Peru, United Arab Emirates, April 23, 2012
  22.  Colombian Proposal on the Transitional Committee as a Model for the SDGs, Version 1
  23. Colombian Proposal on the Transitional Committee as a Model for the SDGs, Version 2—Revised June 7, 2012
  24. Brazilian Presidency Proposed Negotiation Text, June 17, 2012


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