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Parliamentarians supporting the SDGs. Photo: Coalition for Global Prosperity

Seize the moment: UN Goals must be UK Goals

22 November 2018
Author: Lord McConnell

In these difficult times, when Brexit consumes so much political energy and our global role seems so uncertain, there is one issue that could and should underpin our vision for “Global Britain”: the UK must do what it can to end extreme poverty. 

That was the aim in 2015, when 193 countries came together to agree the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 ambitious, interconnected goals have given us a roadmap to the end of extreme poverty, inequality and climate change. The essence of the goals is to ensure that no one is left behind, that those who need help the most are identified and put to the front of the queue. With the perception of the UK in flux, it is ever more important we uphold our commitment to the Global Goals and push for the transformative Agenda2030. 

Delivering the goals will be tough but that should not deter us, it should spur us forward. We must work together, parliament and civil society, business and local government. It is why we set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development in 2015, with support from Bond as our secretariat. And why we will now go one step further with a UK partnership for action on the Global Goals coordinating the campaign of Bond, Project Everyone, the Coalition for Global Prosperity, the ONE campaign and the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development. 

Last week, together, we held a special event to equip parliamentarians with the tools and information to become champions of the goals, and campaign in their own constituencies. 

With talks from the secretary of state for international development, Penny Mordaunt, and film director and UN SDGs advocate, Richard Curtis CBE, the event was a positive example of cross-party enthusiasm to helping those most in need, in our own country as well as elsewhere. Over 30 parliamentarians from across politics attended, agreeing to step up their engagement with the goals. 

Why was this important? Because next year our government will present the UK Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the United Nations in New York. This is when the government will report to UN member states on UK progress in delivering the goals, both at home and abroad. We need as many parliamentarians as possible ready to help, and hold to account, the government’s action on these goals. 

2019 is a pivotal year for the UK and the Global Goals, and with the right amount of parliamentary scrutiny and engagement at all levels we can ensure that the UK submits a robust and useful VNR, that they recommit to Leave No One Behind, and that they continue to work in partnership with other countries to deliver on the goals. We must seize this moment – everyone everywhere has a role – and together we can deliver.

For further information about the APPG or to be added to the mailing list, or if your organisation would like to work with the newly-formed UK partnership for action on the Global Goals, please email Paul Abernethy at Bond 

Hear about effective strategies for SDG advocacy in the UK and beyond at the Bond Conference 2019 on 18-19 March 2019.  

About the author

Lord McConnell

Lord Jack McConnell is co-chair of the APPG for the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.