CAG Consultants, in partnership with UKSSD and the London Sustainable Development Commission, recently hosted an exciting evening of debate, discussion and drinks. Set in the cosy Yorkshire Grey in central London, this event involved over 50 sustainable development stakeholders, who risked potential snow-induced travel chaos to attend.
The focus of the evening was a discussion of London’s role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the opportunities that the Goals could offer the capital.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, developed by the UN through a global consultation process, set out an ambitious agenda for a better world by 2030 – fairer, safer, healthier, more prosperous and in better balance with nature. They provide an ideal framework to address London’s great social and environmental challenges.
What one thing should London do to demonstrate leadership on the Sustainable Development Goals?
Before the event, participants were asked what one thing London should do to show leadership on the Sustainable Development Goals. Attendees were also invited to add their thoughts on this question at the event itself.
Many attendees identified priorities for action on particular Sustainable Development Goals in London, including:
- Affordable and clean energy – increasing London’s renewable energy and ensuring access to affordable energy for all Londoners.
- Good health and well-being – taking concerted action to improve air quality.
- No poverty and reduced inequality – improving equality of opportunity for all Londoners and resolving hidden homelessness.
- Responsible consumption and production – reducing the consumption of single-use plastics, tackling food waste and promoting sustainable procurement.
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure – decoupling energy demand from economic growth and promoting a greener economy.
- Sustainable cities and communities – improving cycling infrastructure and reducing fossil-fuel based transport use.
They also identified ways in which London could build ‘Partnerships for the goals’, including:
- Capacity building – creating partnerships for collaborating on the Goals and resourcing local authority sustainability teams.
- Measurement and accountability – reporting on progress against the Goals and creating a bottom-up accountability mechanism.
- Communications and engagement – high-profile awareness-raising (e.g. a ‘Live Aid’ for the Goals), running more events like this one, and engaging with key decision-makers (policy, business, third sector).
- Vision, strategy and action planning.
- Developing a vision and bold ambitions for delivering on the Goals in London.
- Developing a plan for implementing the Goals in London.
- Integrating the Goals into existing plans and policies.
Dominic White, UKSSD Co-chair & Head of International Development Policy at WWF-UK
Dominic talked about how exciting and ambitious the Goals are and suggested that they represented one of the most comprehensive efforts by the UN to address the whole spectrum of environmental, economic and social issues. As such they have the potential to be hugely transformative, provided that resources are made available and that efforts are truly aligned with the Goals.
In relation to the UK, Dominic noted that he felt that the UKSSD was helping to fill the void created by the dissolution of the UK Sustainable Development Commission. Of particular value was the provision of space for people to talk and engage with one another. The UKSSD is growing and members are becoming more proactive. The Goals provide an obvious point of focus for UKSSD and he lauded the efforts of the organisations that have volunteered to lead the development of UKSSD’s work to develop a national plan for the Goals. He finished by inviting more members to get involved and to support the network moving forward.
Paul Toyne, Commissioner, London Sustainable Development Commission
The London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC) was set up in 2002. It has a focus on business, economic, social, environmental and governance goals. It is governed by 17 volunteer commissioners supported by a secretariat funded by the Mayor of London. Issues of concern to the Commission include clean tech, green finance and quality of life issues.
The Sustainable Development Goals are reflected in the LSDC’s latest Quality of Life Indicators report, produced by CAG Consultants for the LSDC. The report measures how London is faring on its journey to become a more sustainable city. Many of the indicators in the latest Quality of Life report show London is heading in the right direction, but there are areas where more needs to be done, notably around housing affordability.
Whilst the Quality of Life indicators include existing data relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals, they are not perfectly aligned. The LSDC would therefore like to do more work to align the indicators with the Goals in future iterations of the Quality of Life report.
David Connor, 2030Hub: Liverpool
David is the founder of the Liverpool 2030hub. The 2030hub is the world’s first UN recognised Local2030 Hub, accelerating the contextual implementation of Global Goals in cities. It blends a co-working space, community building, a communications agency and a project delivery vehicle based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
David described his journey in setting up the 2030hub. He said that he was in the ‘right place at the right time’ with the UN interested in delivering the Goals at a local city-level. He is very keen to facilitate action, and the 2030hub already has a solar farm up and running. It is also working with the Local Enterprise Partnership to engage with local small businesses in an innovative way. He stressed that the biggest challenge is to communicate about the Goals ‘outside of the sustainability bubble’, as there is little knowledge about the Goals among the general population.
Caroline runs a Sustainability Development Goals Network MeetUps group, a grassroots movement run on ‘love and energy’. SDGNetwork MeetUps educates, connects people and inspires to action on the SDGs. The vision is to create a community of change-makers who want to participate in achieving Goals. The SDGNetwork MeetUps aim to provide a platform for like-minded people to come together to network and discuss new ideas that might lead to the realisation of the Goals. They involve a rich and diverse set of inspirational speakers, from Toast Ale making ale from leftover bread to people raising awareness of ocean plastics by entering a transatlantic boat race. The MeetUps group has more than 600 members.
CAG Consultants, UKSSD and the London Sustainable Development Commission plan to promote and support the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals in London and the UK.
If you’d like to help us take this forward:
- UKSSD invites you to take part in their project to assess the UK’s performance against the Sustainable Development Goals. Having completed the first stage of the research we are now inviting organisations to review the findings, contribute their expertise and help shape the final outcome. The project will result in a report which will be launched in July at the Houses of Parliament and at the United Nations in New York. To take part please register here. If you’re interested in finding out more about UKSSD or becoming a Partner of the network please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sign up for the CAG newsletter to keep up to date with CAG’s work by going to the CAG website.
- The London Sustainable Development Commission can be contacted here.