MPs to probe UK progress towards Sustainable Development Goals

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Environmental Audit Committee launches inquiry into domestic implementation of SDGs in all areas of government

A group of MPs tasked with scrutinising how government policy influences environmental protection and sustainable development has launched an inquiry into the UK's progress on the UN's flagship Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The inquiry, launched yesterday by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), will focus on the delivery and impact of the SDGs within all areas of government. It will also look at how to measure progress towards the goals in a way that leads to "meaningful change", the EAC said.
The goals were adopted by the UN in September 2015, and commit governments to making progress on sustainable development across a range of areas, including clean water, green energy, biodiversity and climate action, by 2030.

While the government is also tasked with supporting other countries outside the UK to achieve the goals, the investigation will focus on their implementation inside the country.

The EAC is currently collecting evidence and is inviting submissions from members of the public, businesses and organisations until mid-September.

The new inquiry follows a similar investigation by the International Development Committee (IDC) earlier this year. In a June report setting out its findings, the IDC expressed concern about the "insufficient" progress towards domestic implementation and a "worrying lack of engagement" across government departments so far, and especially criticised the failure to include the SDGs in the 2015-2020 single departmental plans of all government departments.

"Departments should be assigned specific responsibilities for making progress on the SDGs to ensure ownership and clear lines of accountability and these should be laid out clearly in each department's Single Departmental Plan, with specific references to relevant SDGs," the report said.

However, the government says Britain played a key role in securing the goals and remains committed to implementing them across the UK. It has committed to publishing a report later this year to set out its approach to delivering the goals across government.