When Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted in 2015, it signified a commitment by states to create a better future for all. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals was to be guided by an almost utopian principle that promised to leave no one behind.
It was also succinctly accompanied by a catchy phrase of ‘no more business as usual’, which was used by diplomats and civil society alike in various statements and meetings. Both of them combined could be read as a vow to create a new approach to development, power and redistribution of resources. It also expressed a sense of urgency that things needed to change. It was, after all, supposed to incorporate all the lessons learnt from the Millennium Development Goals, which lacked efficient monitoring or evaluation mechanisms, and consequently left pockets of populations behind, making them continuously invisible in programs and policies.
Since leaving no one behind is not a goal or a target, it has not been reviewed systematically during the meetings of the High-level Political Forum. While it has been discussed as a theme, the discussions have never focused enough on the substantial operationalisation of the principle, which shows an obvious gap in its meaningful application.