LGA and UKSSD launch Sustainable Development Guide for councils

“Local government can play a key role in driving a sustainable recovery that meets the needs of local communities and businesses."


Wind turbines on a hill in the distance

The Local Government Association and the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development have today launched a guide to help councils engage with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a time when many are starting to re-think the role of local government in leading places and empowering people.

The UN’s 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, adopted by all UN member states, are an urgent call for action by all countries to end poverty and other deprivations to improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change.

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, said that if they are to be attained, then local action by councils will be crucial and must be better funded and supported by national government.

This joint guide with UKSSD reinforces the need for coherent decision-making between all levels of government at a time of growing consensus regarding the importance of an economically and environmentally sustainable recovery.

Examples of councils that have been working towards the SDGs include:

  • Newcastle City Council made a political commitment to mainstream the SDGs in its policies, activity and programmes in 2019. Working closely with SDG experts at University of Newcastle, it is now embedding the SDGs in the work of the City Futures Board, formed to shape the city’s renewal following the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Bristol City Council, in partnership with the University of Bristol, launched the UK’s first Voluntary Local Review on the SDGs in 2019 and has embedded the Goals in its One City Plan to work with stakeholders across the city towards a more coherent plan for the future. A follow-up handbook for use by other cities wanting to undertake similar local voluntary reviews has also been produced.
  • Liverpool City Council’s forthcoming City Plan contains a clear commitment to the SDGs from all partner organisations. The council has worked with the 2030hub in Liverpool to inform the selection of aims, priorities and metrics for the City Plan.

Despite facing enormous pressures and sustained funding cuts, councils have maintained the provision of essential services for their communities and continue to look ahead at how they can work closely with the Government to achieve its targets, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As councils across the country continue to lead their communities through the coronavirus pandemic, it is vitally important that they have the resources and support to lead them through the recovery and continue to fight against climate change.

Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the LGA’s City Regions Board, said:

“While councils across the country continue to grapple with the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus crisis, many have come to recognise their unique position as leaders of place.

“Local government can play a key role in driving a sustainable recovery that meets the needs of local communities and businesses.

“The SDGs provide a guide to rebuilding our economies in a resilient and sustainable way, focusing on creating good lives on a healthy planet for all people.

“However, in order to meet the scale of the challenge local action must have the backing of national government.”

Emily Auckland, Network Director of the UKSSD, said:

“It’s thought that as many as two thirds of the SDG targets need local action to be achieved by 2030. The goals provide councils with a framework to plan and prioritise decisions, work with their local stakeholders and engage their citizens so we can work together across the whole of society to create a just and sustainable future.”


Notes to editors

The LGA and UKSSD ‘UN Sustainable Development Goals: Guide for Councils’ can be viewed online.

You can also join the debate today through our webinar: Councils' role in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals post COVID-19.

The LGA signed a letter coordinated by UKSSD and the UN Global Compact Network UK alongside leaders of over 150 businesses, civil society organisations and public life calling upon the Prime Minister to use the SDGs to create a socially just and green recovery from the pandemic.