The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee asserts that the Government views the SDGs as something for the UK to help other countries do, "leaving a doughnut-shaped hole" in place of efforts to implement the Goals domestically.
The report addresses opportunities to improve policy coherence and increase accountability on the SDGs, and stresses the SDGs' economic, social and environmental benefits for the UK.
26 April 2017: The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee released a report finding that the Government of the UK has “no clear plan” for delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report also argues that successful SDG implementation would contribute to economic, social and environmental benefits for the UK and policy coherence in the Government, including through increased cross-departmental collaboration.
The report, titled ‘Sustainable Development Goals in the UK,’ asserts that the Government views the SDGs as something for the UK to help other countries do, “leaving a doughnut-shaped hole” in place of efforts to implement the Goals domestically. This approach, according to the report, reflects little enthusiasm for or interest in “maximizing the opportunities and benefits presented by the Goals.” The Committee recommends raising awareness of the SDGs within the UK, and supporting UK companies and other stakeholders that are contributing to achieving the SDGs.
Integrating single SDG indicators into individual departments will result in only selective use of the indicators.
On policy coherence, the authors report that the Government intends to update individual departments’ plans to incorporate the SDGs, but express skepticism that this will be sufficient to implement the SDGs. They caution that integrating single indicators into departments will result in only selective use of the indicators. The report further identifies a lack of high-level government leadership on the SDGs, including from the Prime Minister, and argues that the Government must demonstrate ambition and leadership to encourage policy coherence on sustainable development and cross-government work.
On measuring, monitoring and reporting, the report suggests that the Government appears to have “changed its mind” about the Office of National Statistics developing a set of national indicators. It calls for faster progress to develop SDG measurement frameworks, and stresses the need for baselines and aggregate scorecards to ensure accountability and achieve the SDGs.
To improve implementation and increase accountability, the report recommends the UK Government: establish an independent advisory body to provide evidence-based advice to the Prime Minister and responsible ministers, and to audit the Government’s performance against the SDG targets; appoint a Cabinet-level Minister with strategic responsibility for implementing the SDGs across government; publish a report on the Government’s plans to implement the SDGs, including addressing policy coherence and integrated, cross-government approaches; and commit to participate in the 2018 round of the Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) by 2018 and every three years after. [UK Parliament Press Release] [Sustainable Development Goals in the UK]