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In 2015, UN members states, including the UK, adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets. The goals cover issues ranging from poverty and gender equality to waste reduction and achieving sustainable consumption.

The UK Government welcomed the adoption of the SDGs and associated targets, with the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, calling for “world leaders to meet their promises”. The Department for International Development is the lead government department on implementing the SDGs. Other departments are required to embed the goals in their single departmental plans (SDP) and associated reporting mechanisms. The Cabinet Office has a role in coordinating domestic delivery of the goals through the SDP process. The Office for National Statistics is responsible for reporting the UK’s data for the SDG global indicators to the UN.

As part of the UN’s review and monitoring process, member states are encouraged to conduct “regular and inclusive [national] reviews”. The national reports are produced in the form of voluntary national reviews (VNRs). A country delivers a VNR to the UN on its progress, successes and challenges, and will have this discussed by other states and stakeholders. The UK government has stated that it will be delivering its VNR to the UN in July 2019. The Government has launched an online platform for businesses and civil society to submit their contribution to the VNR.

This briefing provides a summary of the SDGs and an overview of the UN’s monitoring and review process. It then briefly describes the UK Government’s implementation and reporting mechanisms, and summaries the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s report on the issue. The final section provides information on the UK’s preparations for the VNR.


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