In April, the previous Environmental Audit Committee published its report, Sustainable Development Goals in the UK, where it found that the Government “seems uninterested in raising the profile of the Goals" and "showed a marked reluctance to take this forward as a domestic agenda".
In its response to the report, the Government acknowledged that "Young people - in the UK and overseas - are vital to achieving the Goals as they are the generation most affected by the Goals, and we are working to increase their knowledge and engagement in development issues to help them become agents of change." Despite this, there were no signals that national curriculum will include measures to raise the profile of the goals.
Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Committee, has written to Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education, asking her to issue guidance to schools on teaching the Goals as part of the National Curriculum. The Chair also notes that Ms Greening was previously International Development Secretary when the SDGs were agreed.
Mary Creagh MP, Chair, said:
“The Government has a once in a generation opportunity to forge a cross-party consensus around implementing the Global Goals in the UK. The Government’s response to our report on the Sustainable Development Goals in the UK reflects their belief that the Goals are an issue for the developing world but have nothing to do with creating a Britain where no one is left behind.
“I am pleased that the Government has taken up my Committee’s recommendation to put the UK forward for a Voluntary National Review by the UN to measure our progress towards the Goals. However, the Government’s reluctance to appoint a Cabinet-level Minister with responsibility for implementing sustainable development across the UK, or a sustainability advisory body, suggests a distinct lack of imagination and ambition in their strategy for implementing the Goals in the UK.
“The Office of National Statistics’ tool for measuring progress on the Goals is still in its preliminary working stages, however it shows the UK falling behind other EU nations on tackling child mortality. Without committing to raising the profile of the Goals, the Government risks falling behind even further.”