Stakeholder Report ‘Measures up’ UK Performance on SDGs
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development launched the report ‘Measuring up: How the UK is performing on the UN Sustainable Development Goals’.

The report offers a comprehensive stakeholder review of SDG delivery in the UK, covering 143 of the 169 targets.

The report notes that although the UK’s Single Departmental Plans are a practical way of delegating authority, they could reduce recognitions of interlinkages across the Goals and targets, thereby siloing efforts or reducing their effectiveness.

17 July 2018: An event convened in the margins of the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) celebrated the launch of the report titled, ‘Measuring Up: How the UK is performing on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.’ Organized by UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and hosted by PwC, the discussion reviewed the report’s key findings and methodology.

Bringing together experts from over 100 organizations across the UK, the report offers the first comprehensive review of SDG delivery in the country, covering all 17 Goals and 143 of the 169 targets. Emily Auckland, UKSSD Co-Chair, emphasized that the scope primarily focuses on domestic delivery of the SDGs within the UK, and that the report does not compare the UK to other countries. On the authoring process, she explained that each chapter of ‘Measuring Up’ —the first section of which reviews progress on a Goal-by-Goal basis—was led by one or two UKSSD members, based on their strengths and area of expertise. The report’s second section examines procedural aspects of SDG delivery in the UK, including governance arrangements and the roles of stakeholders.

The report finds that the UK performs well on 24% of the targets, has performance gaps on 57%, and shows little to no policy change or otherwise poor performance on 15%. For 3% of targets, there were not enough data available to make an informed assessment. The report utilized publicly available data from international bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and World Bank, as well as from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS). UKSSD also notes that in authoring the report, they identified data gaps on the UK’s impacts abroad, including through supply chains and on marine pollution. Although accounting for the country’s global reach is embedded in the thinking, UKSSD noted, additional measures are needed take stock to take stock.

Areas of high performance include SDGs 3, 4 and 17. The UK appears to perform poorly on SDG 15.

Areas of high performance by the UK include SDGs 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (quality education), and 17 (partnerships for the Goals). The UK appears to perform poorly on SDG 15 (life on land), and on several Goals (2, 5, 9 and 13) not a single target is marked as green (“good”). In terms of efficiently accelerating progress, the report notes that although the UK’s implementation framework of Single Departmental Plans (SDPs) are a practical way of delegating authority, there is a risk that doing so will reduce recognitions of interlinkages across the Goals and targets, thereby siloing efforts or reduce their effectiveness. Thus, the report calls for cross-departmental action to ensure policy coherence.

Dominic White, Co-Chair, UKSSD, highlighted that the report is put forth in the spirit of collaboration, offered in lieu of government capacity, to recognize what a performance review looks like from a stakeholder perspective. He emphasized synergies between the UK and global contexts, noting that this is “where sustainable development comes home.” On methodology, he underscored the stringency of the review, noting that UKSSD applied the “leave no one behind” principle when analyzing targets: if a person or group is not getting the full benefits of a target, the target is not scored as green.

Looking ahead, White described the ‘Measuring Up’ report and the UK’s intention to present a Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the 2019 HLPF as opening a “policy window” where experiences can be built on and taken further, and gaps identified by the report can be addressed. The discussion also raised the broader importance of “voluntary stakeholder reviews” (VSRs), which can serve as a baseline for, or to complement, inform, strengthen—or in some cases refute—countries’ official VNRs on progress towards the SDGs.

The event follows the report’s initial launch, held at the UK House of Commons on 3 July 2018. The ‘Measuring Up’ project has been supported by World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Pearson, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Sodexo, DNV GL, PwC, Stakeholder Forum and Thai Union. [Publication: Measuring Up: How the UK is performing on the UN Sustainable Development Goals] [Event Page] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]


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