On 8 June the International Development Committee (ICD) launched its report on the UK implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Having contributed to the creation of the publication, Population Matters was invited to attend the event at Westminster Hall.
In a packed room, Stephen Twigg MP stressed that a cross-governmental approach is necessary to achieve the universal implementation of all 17 development goals. While the leading role the Prime Minister has played in the formulation of the SDGs is positive, the UK has so far been slow in establishing how to implement the goals domestically since they came into force on 1 January 2016.
The report states that the Government should take a leading role in communicating the SDGs to a wide private sector audience in the UK, while at the same time supporting the development of international benchmarks against the SDGs, to allow companies to monitor their progress against relevant targets. The responsibility for this should not lie with the Secretary of State for International Development alone, but should be shared by all departments of the Government.
We support the recommendation that multilateral cooperation is what is truly needed to tackle sustainable development issues thoroughly. But, while cooperation and funding are necessary steps towards a sustainable future, they are not sufficient on their own. What we really want to know is what changes the Government envisions in order to meet the SDGs by 2030. Unfortunately, the report hardly sheds any light on that, though it strongly recommends the creation of a White Paper to outline a clear approach.
It is, in a way, ironic that a committee condemns the slow pace at which the UK implements the SDGs it endorses, only to deliver a report that fails to increase the speed of implementation concretely. By the time a potential White Paper is ready for scrutiny, millions more people will have been born, making the fulfilment of all the SDGs more difficult.
Naturally it is understandable that time and precision are needed to come up with a good strategy, but it is also very clear that the achievement of universal standards is easier the smaller the targeted group is. Therefore, Population Matters believes that the Government should start promoting policies that contribute to population stabilisation right away, while preparing a solid White Paper.
Image: United Nations [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons