Three easy actions that the UK government can take to promote sustainability

Fine words butter no parsnips. The UK government needs to clarify the actions they will take to promote the SDGs

Earlier this year the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) wrote a letter to the UK government urging it to put the UN’s SDGs at the heart of revival plans designed to boost the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the letter, the government was urged to prioritise those in society who are most vulnerable and worst affected by the pandemic. The aim should be to level up social equalities, something that is very much at the top of people’s minds as the Black Lives Matter campaign continues. In addition, the letter called for regional inequalities to be addressed.

The UKSSD is a wide network of organisations with a simple, but challenging, aim: “We want everyone in the UK to enjoy a good life and live on a healthy planet.”

Together they generate cross-sector influence, working together to hold the UK to account on the SDGs. Their combined expertise provides a rich source of knowledge and evidence on SDG performance in the UK. And they work together collaboratively to share ideas, create new opportunities and drive action.

The UKSSD has made a simple point: that the government is well placed to make a real difference by taking three easy actions:

  1. Show leadership by signalling support for our organisations to work together in the UK, across sectors and industries to transform broken or failing systems
  2. Publicly communicate the importance of the SDGs and develop a more effective approach to their implementation
  3. Help the UK understand its performance on the SDGs by openly disclosing our progress towards the target

In response, Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Secretary of State for the Department for International Development recently stressed her commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and acknowledged the importance of collaboration and partnerships.

However, specific steps to drive forward progress have yet been outlined.

The UK’s Voluntary national review of the SDGs is an excellent document in principle but the need is for timed and measurable actions to be laid out including comprehensive stakeholder engagement. As the old saying goes: fine words butter no parsnips.

The UKSSD is now asking for a meeting to discuss what substantive actions can be taken to push the sustainable development agenda forward.

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