SDG Summit Kicks off on a Holy High Note

The Sustainable Development Goals summit begins at the United Nations today. The first speaker, at about 10 AM EST, will be none other than his holiness the Pope. President Obama will be one of the last speakers on Sunday. In between are over 150 heads of state, each of whom will endorse the 2030 international development agenda, the top goal of which is the eradication of extreme poverty in 15 years time.

Here are some resources to help you follow the action this weekend:

Good rundown of the SDGs from Council on Foreign Relations:

15 minute wonky podcast explainer on the Sustainable Development Goals.  (Global Dispatches Podcast

Twitter handles to follow this weekend: @HayesBrown @mbesheer @RichardGowan1  And of course Tom @ViewfromtheCave + Mark @MarkLGoldberg

Concert event to watch → Global Citizen Festival on Saturday.


Tragedy in Saudi Arabia…At least 717 people taking part in the Hajj pilgrimage have been killed in a stampede near the Islamic holy city of Mecca, officials in Saudi Arabia say. Another 863 people were injured in the incident at Mina, which occurred as two million pilgrims were taking part in the Hajj’s last major rite. It is the deadliest incident to occur during the pilgrimage in 25 years. King Salman has ordered an urgent review of this year’s Hajj plans “to improve the level of organisation”. The supreme leader of Iran, which lost at least 95 of its citizens in the crush, has criticised Saudi Arabia’s preparedness. It is the second disaster to strike Mecca in two weeks, after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque, killing 109 people.” (BBC


People rejoiced in Burkina Faso’s capital Thursday, a day after the military restored power to a civilian regime, but uncertainty hung over the fate of the elite presidential guard that staged last week’s coup. (AFP

Ugandan opposition parties said they have failed to unite behind a single presidential candidate for next year’s vote, potentially weakening their challenge to veteran leader Yoweri Museveni. (Reuters

The International Criminal Court unveiled Thursday 60 new war crimes charges against the deputy leader of Uganda’s brutal Lord’s Resistance Army, including using child soldiers and keeping sex slaves. (AFP

An international rights group accused the Rwandan government Thursday of rounding up “undesirables”, including beggars and prostitutes, and holding them in a grim detention centre to promote the capital’s clean image. (AFP

Villagers in Zimbabwe are skipping meals and foraging for wild fruit as food stocks run out after a poor harvest blamed on drought and controversial land reforms. (AFP

Whether it’s selling pensions, pasta or toothpicks, investors in Africa have been targeting the booming middle class. But a year of diving commodity prices has exposed how much the continent, and its consumers, still rely on exporting resources. (Reuters

The White House announced a further $41 million contribution to support Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad fight Boko Haram.

The Boko Haram insurgency has sent millions of Nigerians fleeing from the northeast, and despite recent military successes against the group, many say they have no plans to return home. (VOA

Why Africa is becoming more accessible to investors. (US News and World Report

A report on displacement and violence in the Lake Chad region. (UNHCR



Bombings at a mosque killed at least 25 people  in Yemen on Thursday during prayers to commemorate the beginning of Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim holiday, Interior Ministry officials said. (NYT

US President Barack Obama on Thursday accepted an invitation to meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, as a drive to revive efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict kicked into higher gear. (AFP

Iraq’s Yazidi minority — the target of brutal attacks by the Islamic State group — on Thursday urged the International Criminal Court to investigate the militants for allegations of genocide and sexual slavery. (AFP

An agreement was reached Thursday between the warring parties in Syria for a six-month truce in the rebel-held town of Zabadani and two Shiite towns in the northwest, a monitor said.  (AFP


Nepal’s top political parties on Thursday reached out to protesters angry about the country’s new constitution, after violence in the region bordering India halted more than 1,000 oil tankers and trucks with essential supplies from entering Nepal. (AP

Myanmar has defended a decision barring 800,000 ethnic minority people from voting in November elections by saying that green card holders can’t vote in U.S. elections either. (AP

Myanmar: A 12-year-old child was killed and several elderly residents were injured on Wednesday when the embankment of a tailing pond at a mine site collapsed, triggering a landslide and flooding in the nearby village of Kanbauk, Tenasserim Division, some 77 kilometres north of the region’s capital Dawei. (Democratic Voice of Burma

Seeking to warm bilateral ties and project a sunny climate for U.S. business, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed on Wednesday to cut restrictions on foreign investment, while his chief Internet regulator appeared to lay the groundwork for a basic agreement later this week on cyber warfare. (Reuters

India will confirm plans next week for a fivefold increase in renewable energy production by 2020, the environment minister said Thursday. But it will continue to champion poor countries in demanding that industrialized nations assume the brunt of responsibility for decades of climate-warming emissions. (AP

The Americas

Peace Deal in Colombia…Following the historic peace dialogue between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), ‘Timoshenko’, reactions range from strong criticism to guarded optimism. (NBC

Pope Francis met for lunch with 200 people who are homeless or living in poverty in Washington on Thursday and told them there was no social or moral justification for homelessness. (Reuters

A looming federal budget confrontation and Republican hostility to UN global-warming talks threaten a U.S. down payment into a key climate-aid fund, money considered vital to a climate deal in Paris this December. (Reuters

Here’s the text of Pope Francis’ speech to Congress. (CNN

…and the rest

Austria has sent back more than 5,000 migrants to EU countries that they had crossed on their way to Austria, its interior minister said on Thursday. (Reuters

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said on Thursday that unless the migrant crisis in Europe was addressed properly there would be a surge of right-wing extremism across the continent. (Reuters

David Beckham is urging world leaders to put children at the center of the ambitious set of global initiatives that will be adopted Friday at the United Nations. (AP


Can the SDGs be achieved by 2030? (ODI

What is China’s Online Future? (The World

The UK government must act now, to end world poverty by 2030 (Guardian

Farming the Way Out of Poverty in Honduras (Inter Press Service

Why We Need A Sustainable Development Goal for Forced Human Displacement (HuffPo

9 Lessons from 9 Secretary-Generals (Medium )

Emergency aid: Obstacles to Going Local (IRIN

Fifteen Years and Forever (IPS