Sustainable Development Goals in the UK Contents


List of the Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 1. No Poverty - End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Goal 2. Zero Hunger - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Goal 3. Good Health and Well-being - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Goal 4. Quality Education - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Goal 5. Gender Equality - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Goal 6. Clean Water and Sanitation - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Goal 7. Affordable and Clean Energy - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Goal 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Goal 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

Goal 10. Reduced Inequalities - Reduce income inequality within and among countries.

Goal 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Goal 12. Responsible Consumption and Production - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Goal 13. Climate Action - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy.

Goal 14. Life Below Water - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Goal 15. Life on Land - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Goal 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Goal 17. Partnerships for the Goals - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Birmingham youth event

On November 25 2016 the Environmental Audit Committee held an event in Birmingham with a group of 20 young people, or people who work with them, who have an interest in the Sustainable Development Goals. The aim of the event was to hear their views on how the Goals could be communicated to a range of stakeholders and what should be done to encourage and support involvement in achieving the Goals in the UK.

Prioritising the Goals

The session began with an exercise to prioritise the Goals. Each group was asked to select and then rank their top five Goals, according to their perceived relevance to the UK. Initially there were discussions amongst most of the groups that the Goals should be considered as a whole and that their interconnectedness made it hard to separate them. Despite this, the following Goals were highlighted by the groups as a whole.

Climate Action (13) was selected by every group as part of their top five Goals because they felt that maintaining a healthy planet was the starting point for global sustainable development. At least half of the groups considered the following Goals to be important for the UK: No Poverty (1); Decent Work and Economic Growth (8); Sustainable Cities and Communities (11); Responsible Production and Consumption (12); and Partnership for the Goals (17).

When the groups explained their choices it was clear that they favoured overarching Goals which could encompass aspects of other Goals and targets. Reduced Inequalities (10) was selected by some groups because of its link to other Goals including Quality Education (4) and Gender Equality (5). Partnership for the Goals (17) was highlighted as an important Goal to ensure that all the Goals are met by 2030 both in the UK and globally.

Communication, awareness and involvement

Each group was then allocated a specific Goal and were asked to discuss how to improve communication, increase awareness and encourage involvement from a range of sectors in helping to achieve the Goals. The four Goals being discussed were: Climate Action (13); Reduced Inequalities (10); Sustainable Cities and Communities (11); and Partnerships for the Goals (17).

For each Goal the groups came to a number of conclusions which have been summarised below.

Methods of communication

‘Using the right forum’ for communicating the Goals was considered an essential way to encourage engagement effectively. They highlighted social media sites, such as Facebook, as ‘key players’ for influencing and informing the general public. One group noted the successful launching of an SDG app in Finland, which allows users to log their activities and share their experiences on helping to achieve the Goals. They advised that the use of social media and the internet to communicate the Goals should be limited on those which are non-political, thereby ensuring the information is considered trustworthy.

Advertising was highlighted as an important tool for communicating the Goals that is currently not being utilised. The groups felt that the Government could take a more proactive approach to promoting the Goals by using advertising. It was suggested that ‘shock tactics’ advertising, like that used on cigarette packets to dissuade the public from smoking, could be applied to the Goals to inform people of the consequences of failing to meet the Goals.

Importance of partnerships

Every group noted the importance of partnerships for promoting good communication, engagement and encouraging involvement in achieving the Goals. They are important for coordinating the efforts of stakeholders, like NGOs and local government. Those with common objectives are likely to have greater success through working collaboratively.

The groups raised the importance of the relationship between the Government and local government. They told us that the Government should provide more support to local authorities who are actively trying to promote and contribute to the Goals. For example, one participant noted the success of the ‘Challenge Days’ she had helped organise in Birmingham, which successfully brought communities together around a particular issue that was relevant to them.

Some groups felt there was a need to ‘re-humanise’ the Goals, and that this could be achieved through partnerships between NGOs, charities and the Government. They should work together to promote the Goals in a way that expresses how the Goals could benefit everyone, both in the UK and abroad, and the importance of this.

Engaging from an early age

The groups all agreed that it is important to engage people at an early age, when they are still in education. One group felt the Government should focus, particularly, on raising awareness amongst university age people because they felt this was the age at which people will start to care about sustainable development. The groups suggested that schools should be ‘green and forward thinking’, and that teachers should be educated about the Goals and their relevance to the UK, enabling schools to lead by example.

The role of business

The groups felt that businesses have a responsibility to contribute to the sustainable development agenda. They told us that businesses should set an example by implementing the relevant Goals within their operations. This would make employees aware of the Goals, particularly those that directly affect them, and would encourage engagement with the agenda. Working closely with likeminded organisations, would enable them to share best practices for implementing the Goals within operations and create joint policies and initiatives to implement the Goals on a wider scale.

The role of local government

The groups felt that the Government needed to clearly define the responsibilities of local government for contributing to the Goals. Clarifying the position of local authorities would enable them to develop a level of ‘ownership’ over their sustainable development programmes. They noted the benefits of metro mayors playing a greater role in the development agenda for their area, highlighting the success Bristol’s mayor has had in environmental policies.

The role of the government

It was clear that every group felt there was an important role for the Government to play in communicating the Goals and encouraging wider engagement with them. They felt that the Government should seek to, once again, be viewed as a ‘role model’ to encourage both UK and global citizens to engage with the Goals.

Recommendations made by the groups mostly focused around providing greater support to stakeholders contributing to the development agenda. They felt the Government should support local governments with the power and funding to enable them to play an active role. They also told us that the Government is key to supporting engagement at the public level, through providing citizens with practical advice outlining how they can get involved.

Meeting with Colombian officials

On Wednesday 11th January we held a private meeting with His Excellency Néstor Osorio Londoño, Colombia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; German Espejo, Deputy Head of Mission; and, via video conference, Felipe Castro, Technical Secretary for the Inter-Institutional Commission for the Implementation of the Goals and Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Policies, National Ministry of Planning. The purpose of this meeting was to hear about Colombia’s progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, and any lessons they have learnt that could benefit the UK.

Millennium Development Goals

As part of the process of implementing the Millennium Development Goals Colombia had already discussed embracing the development agenda on a wider scale. As a result, they were able to ‘fast track’ the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Their existing National Development Plan, and subsequent inclusion of 92 SDG targets in this Plan, enabled Colombia to build an institutional framework with which to implement the Goals nationally.

The Peace Process

The Peace Process has been at the heart of Colombia’s Sustainable Development Goal agenda, with at least 68 of the SDG targets forming part of the agreement. Poverty has been a concerning issue for Colombia, therefore as part of the Peace Process, emphasis was placed on the inclusion of Goals which have a positive social impact and would contribute to reducing poverty.

Commission and stakeholders

An important mechanism for advancing the sustainable development agenda in Colombia has been the Inter-Institutional Commission for the Implementation of the Goals. The Commission is made up of seven cabinet level ministers, including a delegate from the President’s office, and has so far been an effective tool for arranging the Government to act on the sustainable development agenda.

One of the key features of the Commission is its ability to act as a bridge between Government and other stakeholders, including representatives of civil society, businesses, the media, NGOs and academics. It has worked to build a strong network of enterprises, businesses, unions and universities to increase awareness of the Goals and encourage collective ambition for achieving them. The Commission hopes to introduce a recognition or incentive scheme to reward those organisations who are most engaged with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Colombian Government has identified 88 targets in which it believes the private sector has an important role to play. The Government has therefore been encouraging businesses to embrace the sustainable development agenda and explore how sustainability can benefit their operations, as well as help them fulfil their social responsibility. The Commission has been working with the Government procurement agency (National Public Contracting Agency) to explore the use of incentives to promote the Sustainable Development Goals agenda within the private sector. There is, however, already consideration of environmental factors in the operations of both the public and private sectors, not least because environment protection is one of the priorities of the Colombian Government.

The Colombian Government has recognised the effectiveness of using the development agenda to overcome any differences between actors during discussions of multi-stakeholder approaches to implementing the Goals. As a result, meetings between the Commission and their stakeholder group have been able to identify targeted solutions with actions from all sectors and actors to meet specific targets.

Nationalising the Goals

We heard that Colombia is working to ‘nationalise’ the Goals. The Government recognised that many Governments across the world already have policies in place which can directly, or indirectly, contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. They, therefore, used this as a starting point. They identified their own existing policies which already address Goals and used these to then identify those that needed further action to achieve them.

The Colombian Government’s view is that the Goals cannot be achieved from a sectorial point of view, rather a number of different Ministries must work together to achieve them. For example, reducing poverty levels in Colombia (Goal 1) has required action from several Government Ministries, including health, education, assets allocation, etc. The first step, to ‘nationalising’ the Goals, was to identify those in which every level of Government had something to contribute, and then articulate these clearly. This was effective because attempting to tackle the development agenda at every level of Government would have been very difficult operationally.

As part of nationalising the Goals, the Colombian Government considers the local aspects of the Goals, as it is the people on the ground who will have to deliver them. They have worked closely with local government, in a technical capacity, to assist them in the creation of their Local Development Plans. As local government has a high level of autonomy in Colombia, it was ultimately their decision whether to include the development agenda in these plans. Fortunately, however, most have seen the benefits of including the Goals, through specific programmes or by setting targets for the principality.

Raising awareness

Raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals in Colombia has been an important aim for the Government, particularly amongst the general public. This required translating the agenda into the aspects of people’s lives which are affected by the Goals. By informing people of the ways they can actively contribute to the sustainable development agenda, the public can help to support Government’s efforts to meeting the Goals and targets.

The Colombian Government highlighted their campaign to reduce national food waste, one of the targets within Goal 12, as a positive example which has increased awareness of the Goals in Colombia. The Commission worked to raise awareness across all levels of Government and as a result, a bill was brought forward specifically aimed at reducing food waste. This was a problem that the general public did not know about, but raising awareness amongst Colombian citizens encouraged them to actively work to reduce the amount of food waste produced by their household.

Monitoring, reporting and enforcing

We heard of the importance of having reliable information to monitor progress against the Goals. Colombia currently has around 54% of the data it needs to measure their progress. Some of the challenges they have faced in collecting this data include: low frequency, with some surveys only carried out every five years; and disaggregation, which hides some of the inequalities within, and between, territories in Colombia.

Colombia’s National Planning Department has been very effective for monitoring and reporting data. The NPD works with the Finance Ministry to coordinate the investment plans of every Ministry in the Government. This enables them to monitor and analyse the progress of investments aimed at contributing to the development agenda.

It has been important for the Government to make reporting against the Goals more visible. It has been exploring the possibility of creating a website containing all of the data collected on progress towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. This would enable them to clearly report on Colombia’s progress whilst also allowing others to hold the Government accountable for their actions.

Colombia and the UK

The strong relationship between Colombia and the UK was highlighted to the Committee. We heard about the value of the support given to Colombia by UK development programmes, foundations including the Princes’ Trust and universities, with over £100 million being invested in Colombia by UK organisations. As part of a Colombian State Visit in November 2016 the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Rt.Hon. Theresa May, agreed on a ‘roadmap’ for sustainable development for the next ten years. In a joint declaration both countries committed to supporting development initiatives such as Visión Amazonia and pledged continuing bilateral cooperation to promote the sustainable development agenda.

20 April 2017