Boris Johnson told to “up his game” as UK fails to make progress on delivering plans to tackle the climate crisis, poverty and inequality

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to “up his game” after failing to make progress on delivering plans to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to tackle urgent issues including the climate crisis, gender inequality, human rights abuses, and extreme poverty by 2030.

A report published today analyses 42 countries’ reviews of progress on SDGs that were voluntarily submitted to the UN last year. Despite the UK being at the helm of the negotiation of the SDGs in 2015 – and claiming to “be at the forefront of delivering them” – it is now falling behind on its execution.

The UK did not contribute to this last round of UN reviews and will not do so to the next one in July. Its most recent contribution was in 2019, when it laid out plans for a consultation mechanism to improve the UK’s response to mental health needs, make progress on the climate crisis and environment issues, ensure high-quality health service, raise standards of education and increase employment.

Progress has stalled as the UK has failed to implement a consultation mechanism, review ministerial structures, fully embed the SDGs in cross-government planning or improve the use of data to enable change for marginalised groups.

Sarah Champion MP, Chair of the International Development Committee, said:
“The SDGs are the world’s to-do list: tackle the climate crisis, end gender inequality, stamp out human rights abuses, and eradicate extreme poverty. While all countries signed up to solve these problems by 2030, the UK’s progress is flatlining. Now is the time for the government to step up and make progress on the commitments it made in 2019 to help improve the UK’s implementation of this transformative vision both in the UK and around the world.”

Stephanie Draper, CEO at Bond, said:
“The Prime Minister needs to up his game and take leadership of the SDGs if we are to ensure the UK achieves its targets by 2030. The SDGs are not just about tackling urgent problems internationally, but at home, too, and it is critical that actions on one do not undermine the other. The pandemic has shown just how interconnected the Goals are, and how strongly they impact our everyday lives.
“To really ensure ‘no one is left behind’, we need to see a whole-of-government approach to the SDGs and clear UK aid spending ambitions in the forthcoming International Development Strategy.”


Notes to editor:

  1. Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice
  2. The report, Sixth Edition Progressing National SDGs Implementation, offers insights and recommendations on how governments, civil society organisations and other stakeholders can improve efforts to implement and report on the 2030 SDG Agenda.
  3. The report was produced with financial or in-kind support from Bond and the following organisations: ActionAid (Denmark), Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD), Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Centro de Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional (CEPEI), Cooperation Canada, CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), Forus International, Global Focus, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Save the Children (UK), Sightsavers, and World Vision International
  4. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are outlined here
  5. The UN’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) is a process by which countries assess and present progress made in achieving the SDGs and the pledge to “leave no one behind”. For more information, including on the countries that have contributed, click here
  6. For further information or interviews please contact Juliet Conway on 07990518334 or [email protected]