House of Lords Debate on the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an overarching framework cutting across environmental, economic and social goals.


Key messages

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an overarching framework cutting across environmental, economic and social goals. They are not an implementation plan and need to be translated into a domestic and local context. This means identifying which goals and levers are most appropriate for each place in meeting the UK’s ambition to deliver the Agenda by 2030.
  • The UK Government’s Voluntary National Review has estimated that 65 per cent of the 169 targets set out by the SDGs need local involvement.  The Review singled out climate change and a sustainable approach to adult social care as urgent issues for local work. Councils have a vital role to play in the planning, implementation and monitoring of these and many other SDGs in local areas.
  • The LGA passed a motion at its annual conference last week in support of the Goals and the promotion of the role of local government in delivering them.  Several councils have already published a specific SDG agenda and many more are incorporating sustainability issues into the wide range of services they provide.
  • The ability of local government to take the lead on SDGs is restricted by financial constraints on councils, a lack of devolved powers, challenges with monitoring and implementation and a lack of awareness of the agenda. A snapshot of this is research by Bristol, which shows that the Office of National Statistics can report on 64 per cent of SDG indicators, but at a UK city level they can only report on 17.2 per cent.  
  • The Government should use the Spending Review and other key opportunities, such as the Queen’s Speech, to place councils on a more sustainable footing. Our Councils Can proposal sets out how a new localism settlement could strengthen communities and allow them to deliver on the SDGs with locally-led public service reform.

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Debate on the Sustainable Development Goals - House of Lords - 10 July 2019