The UK government presented its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) last year at the United Nations' High Level Political Forum; however, outside of international development organisations, there has been little or no mention of the SDGs and progress to date.
But what exactly are the Sustainable Development Goals and why should domestic civil society organisations actively engage with them?
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to address global issues, including ending poverty, improving access to education, reducing inequalities and combating climate change issues. They are so much more than just a checklist of targets for nations to meet ––a global movement is emerging, with people and organisations across the world working to transform places; strengthen communities; and, meet present needs without compromising the needs of future generations.
This is effectively the civil society futures PACT, at work on a global level. However, without the full engagement of UK domestic civil society organisations, the chances of success will be significantly diminished. Below I list five facts about the SDGs to ponder on.
1. The Sustainable Development Goals were developed following the largest public consultation programme in the United Nation’s history –– making this the most ambitious agreement for sustainable development that world leaders have ever made. Both individuals and civil society organisations globally were engaged in the consultation process which spanned a 3-year period and involved engaging with more than 7 million individuals through 83 national reviews. This initial participatory public involvement is a key strength of the SDGs.
2. The global goals call for systemic approaches to be used. They challenge nations and institutions to not just aim to solve the symptoms of global problems, but to look to understand the linkages and root causes that give rise to the issues in the first place, and to work to address these as well.
3. Intra-sectoral and cross sectoral collaboration could maximise impact. The goals call for organisations with shared principles, values and visons to unite and form partnerships that place people and the planet at the heart of their work. We’ve seen the power of collaboration at work in the voluntary sector on numerous occasions. For example, since 2017 Morrisons has been in a strong partnership with CLIC Sargent –– working to raise £10 million for young people battling cancer. For a long time, such partnerships have been the prerogative of larger charities; however, the global goals present an opportunity for smaller charities to collaborate with local businesses that share the same values and vision for a better world.
4. Data is a key element of the SDGs. The global goals’ indicators were agreed on by the UN Statistical Commission. Furthermore, the Office of National Statistics in the UK has been collating data on a domestic level. This data driven approach presents an opportunity for progress to be objectively measured, and for civil society organisations, to hold the government to account where progress is not being made.
5. Finally, the global goals could unite communities. At a point when the nation is increasingly becoming polarised and with global trends of nationalism and xenophobia on the rise –– the global goals call for unity across communities and nations, making them a very powerful force for global good.
If you’d like to find out more about joining the global movement and participating in upcoming debates, please email firstname.lastname@example.org