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SDG Wall at Bond Conference 2018

The UK must play a progressive role on the SDGs globally

14 June 2019
Author: Kit Dorey

On 16 July at the United Nations in New York, all eyes will be on the UK as it delivers its first-ever progress report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Known as a Voluntary National Review (VNR), the UK will present its social, environmental and economic achievements, at home and internationally, since it committed to the agenda in 2015.

Bond has been following the VNR process closely. Last month, the UK government published its main messages from the VNR, which lacked detail and specificity. We’ve called for commitments to ongoing, inclusive consultation on the UK’s SDG implementation, and for a comprehensive delivery plan. 

Today, we launch our own report on the UK’s international progress and gaps, The UK’s global contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our sector’s perspective

Compiled with over 49 organisations and 14 networks and working groups, the report represents the UK international development sector’s view on what the UK could and should be doing to support the success of the goals by 2030. We provide recommendations for the UK government and other institutions on a range of critical areas that need attention and investment.


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We cover the UK’s direct impact through aid and other foreign policies such as trade, investment and diplomacy, and indirect impact through the global footprint of domestic policy.

Though some notable progress has been made, the SDGs will not be achieved unless the UK and other donors transform their approach to take account of a changing world, with its litany of serious problems that require immediate action.

Priorities and actions across the goals

Our report also highlights some cross-cutting priorities for the UK’s approach that affect the delivery of many (or all) the goals.

We must do more to ensure those people who are the furthest behind, whether through economic or social marginalisation, are reached first. Realising this principle of “leaving no one behind ” will require greater investment in human development and social equality. UK Official Development Assistance must be targeted to the countries and communities where it is most needed, irrespective of “national interest”.

The report also finds a need for greater and more consistent support for international tax reform and investment in inclusive, gender-sensitive public services. We also highlight the need for a significant step up in action on climate and the environment across the UK’s entire portfolio.

All of this can only be done through national and local ownership of the goals. The UK must follow the lead and strategies of other governments and local civil society, as opposed to imposing inappropriate, out-of-context “solutions” that fail to address systemic issues.

The decade of delivery

Not all the report’s recommendations cover policies and measures we’d expect to be in place only four years into Agenda 2030. However, the UK’s VNR is a vital opportunity for us all - UK government, civil society and other stakeholders – to rethink our engagement with this potentially transformative agenda, alongside the international community.

As we approach the “decade of delivery”, from 2020-2030, the need for the UK that plays a progressive, proactive international role has become even more pressing.

Access the easy-to-navigate report, which can be viewed in full or as separate chapters on each goal.

Join Bond's Sustainable Development Goals group to influence the implementation of the SDGs across the UK and internationally.

About the author

Kit Dorey
Bond

Kit is a policy manager at Bond