Government launches landmark review into UK business action on SDGs

The UK Government has this week launched its first voluntary review into how the nation's business community is contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Voluntary National Review will be submitted to the UN ahead of next summer's High-Level Political Forum

The Voluntary National Review will be submitted to the UN ahead of next summer's High-Level Political Forum

Launched on Monday (8 October), the review aims to reflect the positive contributions that businesses, local authorities and policymakers are making to the 17 Global Goals and their 169 targets.

Set to be presented to the UN at next year’s High-Level Political Forum in July 2019, the review will also highlight which areas the UK needs to take greater action on.

The Government said in a statement that the final findings of the review will be underpinned by data, and will demonstrate both domestic and international activity.

“The UK was at the forefront of negotiating the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda – the global framework for tackling the most pressing global challenges of our time,” the statement reads.

“In the Voluntary National Review, we would like to showcase several examples of the great work being done across the country by different groups.”

Businesses, local authorities and other organisations have until 16 November to contribute to the review.

Measuring up

The launch of the review comes after a report from the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) revealed that the nation was only performing well on 24% of targets considered relevant to the domestic delivery of the Goals.

Presented to MPs at the House of Commons in July, the report listed policy gaps or inadequate performance alongside 57% of the 143 targets, while 15% had “little to no policy in place” to address them.

Responding to the UKSSD report at the time, Climate Secretary Rachel Lloyd confirmed that the findings would be included in the Voluntary National Review.

In a letter to the UKSSD, Lloyd wrote that the Government’s commitment to promoting and delivering the SDGs “stretches across departments”, with ministers seeking “strong” partnerships with the private and voluntary sectors to drive action.

The assertations came after the UK Government's attempts at addressing and implementing the SDGs were labelled "a total fail" by the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) Mary Creagh.

Progress from the private sector has seemingly been equally slow, with PwC finding that two-fifths of businesses are still failing to engage meaningfully with the SDGs and the UN Global Compact concluding that the private sector is failing to follow through on commitments.

Sarah George


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