Leaders call on Prime Minister to create socially just and green recovery from Covid-19

Richard Curtis CBE, Paul Polman, Michael Izza and leaders of more than 100 renowned companies, charities, universities, and trade associations call on the UK Government to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of UK Covid-19 recovery plans

A letter sent to the Prime Minister on Tuesday 9th June calls on his government to use the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to frame Covid-19 recovery plans. 

The letter references a statement made by the Prime Minister at the Financing for Development event on 28 May where he called for "fairer, greener and more resilient global economy" after Covid-19. He said that we must ‘work together to get shared goals back on track including [...] the Sustainable Development Goals’.

The letter supports this and states ‘we do not need to reinvent frameworks or agreements, we can instead use the global goals as the basis for a socially just and green recovery in the UK and abroad’.

Early evidence from the Business and Sustainable Development Commission showed that if implemented the SDGs create at least US$12tn in business opportunities in just 60 market hotspots and estimates this could be 2-3 times bigger across the whole economy.  

The letter has been coordinated by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and the United Nations Global Compact Network UK (GCN UK).

Signatories include: leaders of Leonard Cheshire, Natwest Group, Nestle UK & Ireland, Linklaters, Clifford Chance, The Body Shop, SSE, HSBC, Standard Life Aberdeen, Mott MacDonald and Unilever; filmmaker Richard Curtis; the Mayor of Bristol; Chairman of the Local Government Association and Dr Mya-Rose Craig (aka Birdgirl).

The letter states that the ‘SDGs provide an internationally agreed framework, which also works at national, regional and local level, alongside and reinforcing existing plans and commitments.’

It asks that the SDGs be ‘used to consolidate and future-proof [recovery] plans’ and goes on to recommend that they are used to:

1.     Prioritise the most vulnerable in our society and level-up regional and societal inequalities

2.     Build coherent policies for a healthy planet and to aid the transition to net zero

3.     Unite all sectors behind a plan to build a stronger and more resilient economy

The SDGs are part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and give a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. There are 17 Goals at its centre, encompassing climate action, education and health.

Unfortunately, the UKSSD Measuring Up report, found gaps in policy or inadequate performance for 57% of targets, and 15% where there is little to no policy in place to address it, or where performance is poor. It anticipates that this situation will be worsened by the societal and economic impacts of Covid-19.

Quotes:

Richard Curtis, UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, film writer, director and co-founder of Project Everyone

“The COVID crisis has shown more than ever that we must work together to secure a better future. The Global Goals are a powerful tool to help us do this; they provide a common vision and a practical blueprint for collaboration. The breadth of support for this letter demonstrates a commitment to working with the UK government to deliver healthy lives, healthy societies and a healthy planet for everyone. We can only build back better together and I hope that the Government will use the Goals to help them do this”

Alison Rose, Chief Executive Officer of NatWest Group, said:

“The coronavirus pandemic is having an enduring impact on how we live our lives and on our economy. But it also gives us an opportunity to address deep-rooted inequality and to level-up prosperity across the UK and make sure nobody is left behind. Doing nothing to address these issues is no longer an option.

 

“Now is our opportunity to embrace the transition to a low carbon economy, which in turn will unlock job opportunities in all parts of the UK and put us on a path to meet our net zero commitments.”

“As a business, our purpose is deliberately aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, because they set the benchmark of a world we should all try to create for people and the planet. We are committed to championing the potential of people, families and businesses throughout the country so that the communities we serve can thrive.”

Michael Izza, ICAEW Chief Executive

"The Sustainable Development Goals are an important framework to ensure governments and businesses are pursuing the long-term public interest, so we hope the Prime Minister will use them as a foundation for the UK's post-Covid recovery plans.

"As chartered accountants we think it's vital businesses look beyond profit and have a wider social purpose, and we're pleased to have so many organisations join our call to government to put these goals front and centre."

Steve Kenzie, Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network UK

"The SDGs define a universal framework for governments, businesses, and civil society to work together and create the future we want. We’re only 10 years away from the deadline to achieve the goals, and the Covid-19 crisis risks worsening inequalities and slowing down progress made. The SDG agenda must be used by the Government to ensure the UK recovers better, recovers stronger, and recovers together”.

Emily Auckland, Network Director, UKSSD

“Covid-19 has placed a spotlight on inequalities in our society. We have an opportunity to make sure our recovery from this crisis is fair and just so that people and places across the UK can prosper. This does not have to be in conflict with our net zero carbon ambitions and the SDGs help us work together to create social and environmental outcomes, so all people have a happy life on a healthy planet”.

//ends

For media enquiries, please contact: Emily Auckland | emily@ukssd.co.uk | 07745844828

 

Notes to editors 

  1. SDG opportunities

The Business and Sustainable Development Commission report ‘Better Business, Better World’ identified a US$12tn market opportunity in 60 market hotspots and the potential to create 980 million jobs. They estimate the opportunity would be 2-3 times bigger across the whole economy.

Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls:

McKinsey’s Power of Parity report showed that bridging the gender gap in the UK workforce could add billions of GDP and 840,000 female employees to the workforce. 

  1. About the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD)

Through collaboration and access to new insights, UKSSD brings organisations together to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UK. UKSSD was launched in April 2016 and has grown to more than 1,000 network members, representing most sectors and industries in the UK, from grass-roots community organisations to multinational business.

We work with our partners to use their cross-sector voice to influence government and organisations on their approach to the SDGs. With shared expertise and leadership, we support them to learn from each other, develop their activities and identify new opportunities for collaboration, such as our new Food Systems Programme which launched in January 2020.

  1. About the UN Global Compact Network UK

Launched in 2000 as a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact provides a framework for developing more sustainable and responsible businesses. Today, the UN Global Compact is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with more than 10,500 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 60 Local Networks. It is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. Its mission is to mobilise a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create the world we want.

The UN Global Compact Network UK delivers an extensive programme of activity to support UK-based UN Global Compact participating organisations. The Network promotes practical sustainability leadership, shares knowledge across sectors, and actively shapes the responsible business environment to create a world we want to live and do business in.

  1. About the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, or “the Global Goals”) are an initiative of the United Nations.

Together, the Global Goals set out an ambitious agenda for a better world by 2030 – fairer, safer, healthier, more prosperous and in better balance with nature. The goals have been described as “the closest thing the world has to a strategy”.

The Global Goals were born out of a vast consultation process and were ratified by 193 global leaders in September 2015. There are 17 goals, with 169 targets sitting underneath them, covering every facet of life on Earth – social, economic and environmental.

Unlike the Millennium Development Goals which preceded them, the SDGs are not primarily focused on developing countries; they are about sustainability everywhere.

The SDGs are a common blueprint for a sustainable future - as relevant to communities, households and individuals as they are to governments, businesses, and NGOs.