MPs to probe progress on UK SDG Review

Madeleine Cuff
clock • 2 min read

The government is due to submit a review to the UN on its progress against the Sustainable Development Goals in May, but MPs are worried government hasn't consulted effectively

MPs concerned the government has not gathered a broad enough range of views on UK progress against the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have announced plans to launch a new inquiry on the issue.

The probe, announced yesterday by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), will examine whether the UK's Voluntary National Review (VNR) of its progress towards meeting the UN SDGs has gone far enough in taking into account the views of external stakeholders.

Businesses and NGOs only had a three month window at the end of last year to inform the first draft of the VNR, which is being finalised currently by Whitehall officials ready for a UN summit taking place in July.

The EAC has long had concerns over government's preparedness for conducting an effective VNR, which the UN expects to be an inclusive exercise involving many different voices from the UK economy.

In 2017 the EAC warned the government has "no strategy or vision" for delivering on the 2030 SDG targets domestically. The scathing report also warned the government appeared unprepared for the level of outreach and engagement required for a full-spectrum VNR, including building in time for Parliamentary scrutiny of the submission.

The government officially launched the VNR in October 2018, giving businesses, communities, and NGOs a three month window to offer their responses.

With two months remaining for the review to be completed, the Committee said it is "keen" to explore how successful the process has been so far, with plans underway for a one-off evidence session later this Spring.  

"VNRs are an important opportunity for a country to take stock of its progress against the UN's SDGs," said EAC chair Mary Creagh MP. "However, as we warned in our previous report, despite them supposedly being inclusive in nature, key stakeholders have not had enough opportunity to have their say."

"It is important that we hear from these groups as we conduct our short inquiry into the domestic aspects of the review," she said. "We will be publishing our scrutiny before the VNR concludes in two months' time."

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