Hand points at SDGs icon lit up on screen
Hand points at SDGs icon lit up on screen. Credit: Parradee Kietsirikul

All-Party Parliamentary Groups: Connecting parliamentarians to civil society

What is an APPG, I hear you ask?

Perhaps you’ve worked in and around politics for a while, but never quite worked out what it is they do. And what is their relevance to the work of the international development sector?

‘APPG’ stands for All-Party Parliamentary Group, and there are currently over 700 of them, covering every cause from aerospace to zoos. They are informal groups which exist to capture and mobilise support for different causes among MPs and Members of the House of Lords (also known as Peers), and to connect parliamentarians to relevant interest groups and civil society organisations.

As the name suggests, they must be ‘all-party’ i.e. non-party-political, and to ensure this they must be co-chaired by two MPs or Peers from the two largest political groupings in Parliament, so currently the Conservative and Labour parties.

Many APPGs are also supported by outside interest groups, who provide secretarial support and work to connect members with relevant civil society organisations. There are a number related to humanitarian assistance and development issues, such as Global Health, Extreme Poverty, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases and Fairtrade, which are all active in Parliament to champion their agendas.

At Bond, we run the secretariat for the APPG for the UN Global Goals, which brings together MPs and Peers interested in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to learn more about how the UK is working on this agenda, the progress the UK is making against the SDGs, and to connect them with civil society organisations implementing the SDGs through their work.

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Bond’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) working group connects members with colleagues in the sector to collectively influence the implementation of the SDGs across the UK and internationally.

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The APPG for the UN Global Goals is co-chaired by Lord Jack McConnell, the Labour former First Minister of Scotland and Theo Clarke, the Conservative MP for Stafford, who is also a member of the international development select committee (IDC). They are supported by a cross-party group of officers, who help to support and shape the activities of the APPG.

The APPG for the UN Global Goals is one of the most active in Parliament, with 132 parliamentarians among its numbers, including 51 MPs and 81 Peers. There are also a number of representatives from NGOs and civil society, as well as from businesses who incorporate the SDGs into their work.

The APPG holds regular events in Parliament, which are often attended by Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) ministers, giving parliamentarians the opportunity to speak with ministers and hold them to account for the UK’s delivery of the SDGs, both at home and abroad.

The APPG recently held its 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM), to look back over 2022, welcome new members and plan an exciting series of events for 2023. As we look towards the UN SDG Summit on 18-19 September in New York, the APPG will be mobilising parliamentarians to show their support for the UK government to show real commitment to the SDGs during the summit.

The SDGs are not just for government, but for business too. In June 2023, we will be hosting an event in the Attlee Suite in Parliament, where we will convene global businesses to share how they have incorporated the SDGs into their business practices, with an audience of businesses, politicians and representatives from the FCDO.

At this event, businesses will have the opportunity to discuss how they are working towards the SDGs, and MPs will be encouraged to work with businesses in their own constituencies to help them incorporate the SDGs into their business practices.

Last year, the APPG held a series of successful events, including a summer reception in the run-up to the High-Level Political Forum, and a breakfast meeting with International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell, where members had the opportunity to discuss the future of the UK’s international development work with him.

The APPG produces a regular newsletter for members, as well as reports which have influenced government policy. So, if you have a political contact with an interest in the work of the development sector, do direct them towards the APPG where they will be able to learn more about the UK’s overall international development work and champion the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Parliament.