CBI and International Chamber of Commerce join forces to step up calls for new investment and policies to deliver on SDGs and tackle climate change
The International Chamber of Commerce and Britain's largest business body, the CBI, have jointly called on the UK government to help develop a "clear, joined-up strategy" to accelerate sustainable finance activity and deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
As school children across the country on Friday protested at inaction on climate change, the business groups warned the challenges posed by sustainable development and climate change "are some of the most pressing of our time".
They added that action was urgently needed to integrate the UN SDGs and global climate targets into the UK's national economic plan.
They said climate-related risks to health, livelihood, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth were all likely to increase under 1.5C of global warming, adding that businesses, governments, and society would all reap the benefits from tackling these problems head-on.
"The urgency of the change needed cannot be ignored, and businesses, governments and society will play a pivotal role in driving it," the CBI and ICC said in a joint statement. "However, whilst the challenges may appear large, the opportunities that have arisen - and will continue to do so - from a focus on sustainable development and sustainable financing could outweigh these costs."
The CBI - which represents around 190,000 businesses across the UK - is therefore urging the government to work together with Britain's businesses on developing a clear strategy to help unlock investment towards meeting the 17 UN SDGs and the UK's climate goals.
They are calling for a joined-up strategy across government departments for trade, business, and the environment for achieving the SDGs, including a "clear definition of the sustainable development goals and a clear plan for how the UK can deliver these successfully".
Moreover, they are seeking the development of a "clear communications plan" to explain the SDGs to consumers and how they can contribute to achieving them, bolstered by an action plan for how businesses and government can help accelerate sustainable finance in the UK.
"The UK is a world leader in this area," the statement reads. "Its expertise in innovation, skills and its world-class financial sector set it at the top of the global table. It is therefore vital that the government and business act now to capitalise on the golden opportunities sustainable finance could bring."
The intervention follows a meeting to discuss the SDGs held by the CBI and the International Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday, which was also attended by a host of big businesses and representatives from the UK's Department for International Development and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The government has previously faced criticism over its approach to the SDGs. In 2017, MPs on Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee said the government had "no strategy or vision" for achieving the 2030 goals, which countries around the world have all committed to.
BEIS and DFID was considering a request for comment at the time of going to press.
In a speech last year, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt emphasised the importance of mobilising the private investment to help reach spur sustainable development.
The government has also consistently argued that it has one of the best track records of any industrialised nation when it comes to cutting carbon emissions and has introduced a Clean Growth Strategy and 25 Year Plan for Nature that cuts across many of the SDGs.