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UKSSD’s open letter to the Prime Minister

If you picked up a copy of The Times today, you’ll have seen a colourful full-page open letter to the Prime Minister we coordinated from over 80 UK businesses, calling on the Government to show its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UK and pledging to do their bit to support the Government’s efforts.

Why is sustainable development good for the UK?

It’s a crucial time for the SDGs – they came into force just over a year ago and tomorrow world leaders and global business titans meet at the World Economic Forum’s annual conference in Davos, where sustainable development will be a key theme.

Many organisations would like to see the UK Government use this as an opportunity to make clear how our businesses can help deliver the SDGs, in the UK as well as overseas.

So businesses from across a wide range of sectors, from the biggest supermarkets and food companies to banks and management consultancies, are using today’s letter to tell the Government that achieving the SDGs will be good for the UK – for its people now and for future generations, as well as the environment we all depend on – and that, as forward-thinking organisations, they’re ready to work with the Government to help make this happen.

We’re all globally connected

The Sustainable Development Goals (sometimes known as the Global Goals) set out to address some of the world’s most challenging issues, from eradicating poverty and inequality to tackling climate change and resource depletion.

Put simply, more sustainable societies put people and nature first. They include all strata of society benefiting more equally from the economy (jobs, health, social protection), they don’t run down the resources they depend, they don’t irreversibly pollute and they respect the natural systems they need to thrive.

One key feature of the SDGs is that they’re universal. In other words, they’re not just for developing countries – all countries have agreed to deliver them. Although the UK is a developed nation, poverty and inequality still exist.  As both employers and members of the UK community businesses can have real impact, and the SDGs are the perfect framework to start looking at how business can help to address not just the economic but the social and environmental problems our society faces.

Whether your interest is domestic development in the UK or in developing countries, this matters because we’re all increasingly connected and interdependent on each other. The UK consumes other countries’ resources, impacting their development trajectories in both positive and negative ways. We’re also experiencing complicated issues in the UK which require joined up solutions.

Businesses have to be part of the solution

Businesses are key agents of change in the UK, for better or worse. They deliver the goods and services we’ve all come to expect: coffee, chocolate, houses, offices, pensions, transport, water, energy… the list is endless.

Sadly, our prevailing business models too often plunder and pollute the world’s natural resources. This has devastating consequences for nature and for people – not just those living in far-flung parts of the world or in some distant future, but for people here in the UK right now.

And British companies have much to lose from a world of climate change, habitat destruction and social upheavals. Ultimately, business can’t thrive in a failing society.

A sustainable business recognises this and invests in being socially responsible and protecting natural capital in the long-term. This has clear business benefits, securing jobs, competitive advantage and greater stability for years to come.

Interestingly, the economic case for sustainable business is being championed by another major voice today. A new report, “Better Business Better World”, launched this morning by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC), highlights the flaws in the current global economic model and explores how the SDGs offer a compelling new growth strategy to drive better quality development at an unprecedented scale.

The report shows how pursuing sustainable and inclusive markets could create at least US$12 trillion in business value (or 10% of global GDP) and up to 380 million jobs by 2030.

Our Government, using the SDGs as a framework, can help put more businesses on this journey.

It’s time for the UK Government to commit to a plan

So in today’s open letter, UK businesses are asking the Government to develop a plan to deliver the SDGs in the UK. In practice, this requires Government leadership and acknowledgement that a number of different strategies, encompassing all departments, will help bring about a more sustainable UK.

We’ll be listening keenly to how the Government responds to this timely call to action.

Get involved with UKSSD

UKSSD coordinated the letter and we’re delighted to have had such a fantastic response from businesses across many sectors, demonstrating that they are ready to get behind this agenda and help the UK to achieve the 17 Goals by 2030.

UKSSD is a network of organisations from across business, civil society, academia and the public sector working to advance sustainable development and help facilitate the delivery of the SDGs in the UK. We’re keen to hear from more organisations from any sector who want to join us or lend their voice to our activities. You can find out more about becoming a supporter or partner of UKSSD by getting in touch at chair@ukssd.co.uk and you can join our mailing list here.

We’re holding the UKSSD Annual Conference in London on Wednesday 1st March 2017 and you are very welcome to join us. You can find more information and register to attend here.

 

 

UKSSD’s open letter to the Prime Minister published today

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