House of Commons’ recommendations for UK implementation of SDGs

27 April 2017
Author: Rachel Aston

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) published the report from its inquiry on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UK on 26 April. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Committee, highlighted that “As the UK leaves the EU, the Government has a once in a generation opportunity to use the Global Goals to forge a cross-party consensus on sustainable development in the UK.” 

The inquiry gathered evidence at the end of 2016 and into 2017 from a range of stakeholders, including government and local government bodies, NGOs, academics, think tanks and private sector organisations. The Bond SDGs Group submitted evidence to the inquiry from which a number of recommendations have been incorporated. 

The UK has already fulfilled a key recommendation from the EAC of outlining the government’s approach to implementing the SDGs, which was published at the end of March. However, the cross-party committee has criticised the government for lack of high-level leadership and ambition for the SDGs and has raised concerns about the government’s “marked reluctance to take this forward as a domestic agenda”. 

The committee calls on the government to address what they perceive as an “accountability gap” and to ensure that the SDGs are implemented in the UK, as well as across the world:

Recommendations for increasing awareness and engagement:

  • Work with the BBC on a public awareness-raising campaign and provide the public with opportunities to get involved with the Goals
  • Look at the National Curriculum for ways to engage young people with the SDGs
  • Take a view to enshrining the SDGs in law
  • Commission research on the costs and benefits of business league tables of responsible behaviour, and report back to the EAC
  • Look at measures to support companies already engaged with the SDGs and incentivise, or require, others to do so.

Recommendations for measuring, monitoring and reporting:

  • State in its reply to the EAC report whether or not the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will report on national progress towards the SDGs
  • Set out ONS funding at the start of each Parliament to ensure it is adequately resourced for the task of monitoring and reporting on the SDGs
  • Participate in the UN Voluntary National Review process as soon as possible – preferably by 2018
  • Ensure the ONS meets its Autumn 2017 deadline to report on the SDGs to the United Nations, hold open competition on how UK progress results could be branded and communicated and look for a partnership with communications experts.

Recommendations for implementation:

  • Appoint a Cabinet-level Minister with strategic responsibility for sustainable development across government
  • Assign a Minister in the Treasury to help coordinate national implementation of the SDGs; and the Treasury to assess the need to create pricing mechanisms to “correct the market failures which the Goals represent”
  • Establish an SDG Partnership Working Group and publish a strategy by 2018 on how the Group will support stakeholders to contribute to the SDGs
  • Establish an independent adviser/new statutory public body on sustainable development, run by a multi-stakeholder committee, and produce audits on progress towards the SDGs
  • Work with public institutions, such as the NHS and police, to create partnerships to deliver the SDGs

The new government will, in due course, need to provide a response to the Committee, which may look very different after June. To learn more about the Bond SDGs Group, visit My Bond.

About the author

Rachel Aston
CBM UK

Rachel is policy manager at CBM UK.