Achieving the SDGs in the UK will help us fight climate change

Sue Riddlestone, Bioregional
Friday, 24th November 2017

The UK needs to be achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out from the UN, especially with tackling climate change. Bioregional is co-founding the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development, which will show the challenges and how they can be combatted.

The latest round of global negotiations on tackling climate change, COP23, came to an end on Friday.

These UN talks are hugely important, highly complex and will never end, because climate change is going to loom larger and larger as an issue of concern through this century.

But I hope one big picture which the negotiators from nearly 200 countries won't ever lose sight of is the need to closely link action on reducing emissions and coping with climate change to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals - the SDGs.

These goals provide a golden opportunity to help nations make sustained progress on addressing global warming - both individually and collaboratively.

The 17 wide-ranging goals were developed in a ground-breaking way with civil society organisations, including Bioregional, and agreed by world leaders in 2015.

The goals are:

1) End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2) End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

3) Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages

4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all

9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation

10) Reduce inequality within and among countries

11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

15) Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss

16) Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

The SDGs recognise how the environmental and social aspects of sustainability are interconnected. There is a standalone Goal, number 13: "Take urgent action to tackle climate change and its impacts". But they acknowledge that national policies and global programmes on climate change won't be effective if they are devised in isolation; they need to join up with action on poverty reduction and inequality, health, education and so on.

They also recognise the roles and responsibilities of all - governments, business, civil society and citizens - in creating positive and necessary changes. And they are meant to apply everywhere, in countries rich and poor.

We often hear about the UK showing international leadership on climate change, but to date, this has not been the case for the SDGs. The government's unwillingness to adopt, or even discuss, how we can achieve the SDGs at a national level has been very disappointing. Ministers seem to see them only being relevant to UK overseas aid. Two years on from the SDGs being agreed by all nations, there is no UK national plan for implementing them, unlike in neighbouring countries such as Finland.

We now have an opportunity to demonstrate UK leadership on the SDGs - and by doing so, will help us make progress on tackling climate change - while bypassing our Brexit-distracted and over-burdened government. We're starting work on the world's first stakeholder-led national action plan to implement the SDGs.

Who are we, you may ask? We're a very wide-ranging network of business and civil society organisations who share a belief that the SDGs are truly important and useful for unravelling and solving the deep and challenging sustainability problems we face in the UK. Bioregional is proud to be involved as co-founders and co-chair of UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development.

Our plan will have 17 chapters, each one devoted to one of the SDGs. It will show where the UK is falling short against the SDG targets, the opportunities they present, and the challenges we will need to address to achieve them. Together, the UKSSD network will present it to the UN's High Level Political Forum on the SDGs in New York at a dedicated launch event.

We want our plan to be a model for other nations to follow, and we hope that our own UK government will want to get involved.

If you would like to get involved in supporting the development of this plan - and in helping the UK to become a fairer, happier nation, while living within planetary limits, let us know here.

Useful links

Regenerative ecovillage solutions for the Bonn climate summit

Permaculture and Climate Change Adaptation

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Uiais |
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4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

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