Businesses urged to contribute to UK SDG review

James S Murray
clock • 3 min read

Government officially launches Voluntary National Review and calls for submissions on SDG progress

Businesses, communities, and NGOs across the UK are being urged to submit information on how they are supporting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the UK's first review of progress against the international targets.

The Department for International Development (DfID) officially kicked off the Voluntary National Review of the SDGs earlier this week and invited interested parties to contribute directly to the review process.

"People in the UK are doing a lot. We know this," the department said on the new website for the Review. "We would like you to tell us more about it. We are keen to hear about projects at the local level that are helping to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. In the Voluntary National Review, we would like to showcase several examples of the great work being done across the country by different groups."

As such, businesses and other parties are invited to either fill out a survey on how they are contributing to the SDGs or provide emailed submissions.

The review presents an opportunity for the growing number of companies that have integrated the SDGs into their wider sustainability strategies to showcase their work. According to a recent survey of over 150 sustainability executives from the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) network 71 per cent are either using the SDGs to set internal targets or intend to do so in the near future.

The SDGs include 17 goals and 169 targets, and unlike previous international development goals they are global in their reach, requiring industrialised and developing nations alike to embrace clean energy, sustainable agriculture, and low carbon infrastructure.

As such many of the targets are directly relevant to the UK, and the government is set to detail how its industrial, clean growth, and environment strategies all contribute to the SDGs. Businesses also have a critical role to play in delivering on SDGs that cover everything from clean energy and buildings to industry and transport.

A DFID spokesperson urged businesses to come forward with submissions for the national review.

"The UK is making good progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, with the private sector, NGOs and government all working together to achieve them, but there is still more to be done," they said in an emailed statement. "That is why it is so important that UK businesses use the Voluntary National Review to show how they are using innovation and expertise to help build on the momentum we need to reach the Goals."

However, the government is also under pressure to provide a more detailed SDG strategy after a report earlier this summer from the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) argued the country was only performing well against a quarter of the SDG targets deemed relevant to the UK.

The report said there were policy gaps or inadequate performance across 57 per cent of the 143 UK-relevant targets, while 15 per cent had 'little to no policy in place' to address them.

Last year the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs similarly accused the government of having 'no strategy or vision' for meeting the SDGs, while a PwC report earlier this year accused multiple governments of paying 'lip service' to the goals.

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