Sustainable Development Goals

UK behind in efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goals

The government’s Voluntary National Review, which outlines its progress towards the SDGs, showed it only received a satisfactory rating in one of the 11 areas on which it was assessed.

The UK government has been warned to step up efforts to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) following concerns its progress has been ‘unsatisfactory to poor.’

The review, conducted by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD), used a scorecard system to rate the UK government’s progress in achieving the goals, which must be met by 2030.

Of the 11 expectations assessed, four were considered poor (red), six were unsatisfactory (amber/red) and only one was satisfactory, though lacking in some areas (amber/green).

None of the areas warranted a green rating for strong achievement.

Areas of particular concern and rated as ‘poor’ included the lack of comprehensive analysis of the UK’s performance on the SDGs, the process of stakeholder engagement undertaken as part of the review, and the failure to use the VNR as a way to create a step-change in the UK’s implementation of the SDGs.

Moving forward, the UKSSD is calling for a Minister in Cabinet to lead the UK’s efforts to implement the SDGs across all areas of government, and a commitment by the government to develop an ambitious and comprehensive plan for the application of the goals.

“As the government prepares for the UN General Assembly next week [24 September], we would expect our scorecard to make a significant contribution to its reflections on the experience of producing a Voluntary National Review,” UKSSD’s co-chair Jeff Twentyman said.

“We hope that this leads to a more ambitious approach and that the government really demonstrates its commitment to the goals as this can only result in positive outcomes for the UK. UKSSD and its partners look forward to working with the government to accelerate progress on the SDGs in the UK,” Twentyman added.

The VNR follows last year’s UKSSD’s Measuring Up report, which was the first comprehensive assessment of how the UK was performing on each of the SDGs.

The report found that that of the 143 relevant SDG targets, the UK was only performing well on 24 per cent. The UK’s performance on the remaining 73 per cent was either poor or inadequate, with the remaining 3 per cent excluded because of insufficient data.

Last Updated: 22 September 2019
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