Chair questions Cabinet Office on Sustainable Development Goals

07 February 2018

The Environmental Audit Committee has today published a letter from its Chair, Mary Creagh MP, to David Lidington MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, relating to the inclusion of UN Sustainable Development Goals in Single Departmental Plans.

Government response

In a response to a report by the EAC, The Sustainable Development Goals in the UK, the Government committed to embedding the goals within SDPs across Whitehall, as it would ‘enable progress against them to be reported publicly in departments’ Annual Report and Accounts’. However, just two departments mention the Sustainable Development Goals in their SDPs: DFID, and HMRC.

Awareness of the UN’s Global Goals

This follows a letter to Justine Greening MP, then Secretary of State for Education, in which the Chair questioned why awareness of the UN’s Global Goals was not being promoted in the Department for Education’s Single Departmental Plan.

Damian Hinds MP, the new Secretary of State for Education, responded to the letter and stated that the Department had no intention of including the goals in its plan. This letter is also published today.

The Chair is demanding clarity on this inconsistency.

In the letter, the Chair also:

  • Asks when the Government will begin the Voluntary National Review (VNR) of its progress against the SDGs, that it has committed to completing in 2019.
  • Urges the Government to embed delivery of the Goals into any new contracts following the collapse of Carillion
  • Questions which departments sit on the cross-Whitehall Sustainable Development Forum, whether this is an official or ministerial-level body, and its activity to date.

Mary Creagh, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said:

“The Global Goals provide the Government with a global model for promoting sustainability at home.

“The Government has spectacularly failed to honour its commitment to embed the SDGs throughout Government in its Single Departmental Plans. Just two departments mention the Goals in their plans.

“We want to see explicit inclusion of these goals in each relevant department’s Single Departmental Plan as soon as possible.

“Failure to do so could leave the Government with egg on its face when it reports to the UN on progress next year.”

Further information

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