UK risks failing to meet crucial global development targets, warns civil society report

The UK government is at risk of failing to meet crucial global development targets, warns a new report, as critical gaps are found in the UK’s international delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All 193 UN member states including the UK agreed to deliver the SDGs – which tackle global crises including climate change, extreme poverty, gender inequality and human rights abuses – by 2030.

The Bond report has input from leading civil society organisations including Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK and CARE International UK, and analyses the UK government’s international delivery on each of the 17 SDGs over the last three years using UN targets and indicators. It finds progress on every SDG is stalling, which means the UK will break its international commitment to deliver the SDGs by 2030 unless urgent action is taken.

The report also recommends how the government can get back on track, including committing to present an annual review of its progress to the UN in 2023. The UK failed to deliver this at last week’s UN Summit in New York for the third year in a row – and has yet to commit to one in the future. This puts the UK behind the curve of the majority of G7 nations as well as China and India who have now done, or committed to doing, two reviews.

Stephanie Draper, Chief Executive at Bond, said:
“The next prime minister should make the SDGs a central framework for the government so that the UK can achieve these targets by 2030.
“Be it tackling the climate crisis, gender inequality, human rights abuses or extreme poverty, the SDGs are a roadmap to a fairer and more equitable world for all and should be at the heart of all policy-making.
“The food and fuel insecurity caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the Covid-19 pandemic showed us how connected we all are, but they have also set back development gains. The SDGs are more needed than ever.
“To ensure we leave no one behind, this government must show strong leadership on the SDGs, working with civil society to set out a clear and accountable action plan to deliver on its commitments.”

Danny Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive at Oxfam GB, said:
“The UK played a key role in shaping the Sustainable Development Goals, which commit all of us help create a fairer, safer, healthier world. But it has spent recent years back-sliding on its commitments to help the poorest – its new strategy seems more focused on promoting its short-term interests rather than tackling long term global challenges.
“With climate change, conflict and Covid ravaging regions like East Africa – where someone is estimated to be dying of hunger every 48 seconds – we need a renewed focus on the most marginalised communities if we are to have any chance of achieving the goals.
“The UK can still play an important leadership role to get us back on track – as it has done championing finance to help communities adapt to the climate crisis.
“It needs to provide a clear plan on how it will play its part including by doubling down on efforts to tackle the barriers that hold back women and girls and promoting peaceful open societies that allow communities to rebuild their lives after conflict.”


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 UK’s Global Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals 2022 report was commissioned by Bond and includes contributions from over 50 organisations and networks, including Oxfam GB, Save the Children and CARE International. It provides an independent civil society perspective on the UK’s international delivery on the SDGs.
  3. Read more on the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Agenda here.
  4. Read more on the UN’s targets and indicators for progress here.
  5. For further information or interviews please contact Juliet Conway on 07990518334 or [email protected]