9 June 2020

Build back better: A letter to the PM

The IES has joined the leaders of more than 100 renowned companies, charities, universities, and trade associations to call on the UK Government to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of UK COVID-19 recovery plans.

On Tuesday 9th June, a letter was sent to the Prime Minister to call on his government to use the UN SDGs to frame COVID-19 recovery planning within the UK.

The letter references a statement made by the Prime Minister at the Financing for Development event on 28th May where he called for a “fairer, greener and more resilient global economy” after COVID-19. He said that we must “work together to get shared goals back on track including [...] the Sustainable Development Goals”.

The letter, coordinated by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and the United Nations Global Compact Network UK (GCN UK), supports this and states “we do not need to reinvent frameworks or agreements, we can instead use the global goals as the basis for a socially just and green recovery in the UK and abroad”. The letter states that the “SDGs provide an internationally agreed framework, which also works at national, regional and local level, alongside and reinforcing existing plans and commitments.”

It asks that the SDGs be “used to consolidate and future-proof [recovery] plans” and goes on to recommend that they are used to:

  1. Prioritise the most vulnerable in our society and level-up regional and societal inequalities
  2. Build coherent policies for a healthy planet and to aid the transition to net zero
  3. Unite all sectors behind a plan to build a stronger and more resilient economy

Alongside IES CEO Adam Donnan, the signatories to the letter include leaders of Leonard Cheshire, Natwest Group, Nestle UK & Ireland, Linklaters, Clifford Chance, The Body Shop, SSE, HSBC, Standard Life Aberdeen, Mott MacDonald, and Unilever; filmmaker Richard Curtis; the Mayor of Bristol; Chairman of the Local Government Association and Dr Mya-Rose Craig (aka Birdgirl).

Discussing the importance of the SDGs in framing the UK's recovery, Steve Kenzie, Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network UK, said:

"The SDGs define a universal framework for governments, businesses, and civil society to work together and create the future we want. We’re only 10 years away from the deadline to achieve the goals, and the Covid-19 crisis risks worsening inequalities and slowing down progress made. The SDG agenda must be used by the Government to ensure the UK recovers better, recovers stronger, and recovers together”.

Emily Auckland, Network Director, UKSSD, said:

“Covid-19 has placed a spotlight on inequalities in our society. We have an opportunity to make sure our recovery from this crisis is fair and just so that people and places across the UK can prosper. This does not have to be in conflict with our net zero carbon ambitions and the SDGs help us work together to create social and environmental outcomes, so all people have a happy life on a healthy planet”.

Read the full letter (pdf)

Coverage in The Guardian