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SDG's - What Are They, What Is the UK Government Doing About Them, and How Can YOU Help?

world peace written on a wall
World Peace

What if we lived in a world that was truly fair, equal, climate-friendly, and most of all, sustainable? The answer may lie in taking a moment or two to consider the existence of the United Nations’ “Sustainable Development Goals”, or SDG’s. The concept of a global effort was first mooted in 1992. Various summits and conferences later, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was formed in 2015, which holds these SDG at its core. The idea is that all 17 SDGs work alongside each other to ensure and maintain overall health and justice for all, and all countries follow the guidelines of the SDG’s.

What is the UK doing?

The UK Government seems proud of its involvement in negotiating the SDG’s and implementing them in its legislation. In July 2021 they published a detailed report outlining exactly how these will work in the UK. It is an extensive report which promotes the UK’s seriousness to the cause but also highlights the difficulties faced by governments in balancing the needs, and budgets, of a country as a whole.

Let’s look at SDG 2, “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, as an example. The two sub-reports published by UK Government departments to cover this SDG concern sustainability, productivity, border biosecurity and animal welfare in agriculture, and promoting the UK’s force for good in the world.

The food production one struck me as this has many wider concerns in UK politics and economics. Sustainability is, without doubt, a major concern for the future of the planet, but is not often affordable or logistical to produce within existing industry. Further, many food products which are produced in the UK are imported from overseas at more affordable prices, directly affecting sustainability and food security levels.

The reality of Zero Hunger in the UK at a local level is in the form of supermarket supply chain difficulties and food banks supplied by voluntary charities. Schools do still provide free school meals for vulnerable children during term time; however, some supermarkets offer free meals for school children during school holidays to help ensure no vulnerable children go hungry. Something has gone wrong with the plans for this SDG. It appears that the basics need to be dealt with first before we are able to consider these issues on a more global scale.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Goal 8, “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”, has no fewer than 32 sub-reports, covering, amongst other things, crime, immigration, education, taxation, employment, defence and Brexit. This is the SDG the UK Government has the most departments involved with which could make it appear that it is the SDG they want to support the most.

It provides a good example of how the SDG’s can work alongside each other and be beneficial for individual countries to strive towards their own economic security but also explores the fragility behind work and economic growth as there are so many underlying factors which can affect it. It won’t take much for just one small element to change for it to have a huge reverberating effect on the whole system. For example, immigration levels need to be monitored to avoid illegal employment statuses, which can affect legitimate employers and taxes collected. All the while, remaining sensitive to immigrants' needs, and ensuring there are no undue delays to processing any immigration statuses to avoid the need for illegal employment.

Reduce Crime

I also find it surprisingly intriguing how often “Reduce Crime” appears as a sub-report within the UK Government’s attempt to comply with the SDG’s. It appears in SDG 3, 5, 8, 10 and 16, covering health, equality, and institutional peace. Despite the detail involved in attaining sustainability and ensuring a protected future for the planet and a modern global society, it, again, seems we still need to work on building and maintaining the basic building blocks of modern society too.

What can you and I do?

Whatever your opinions are about the UK Government’s plans for achieving SDG’s, their wider objectives are undoubtedly important and deserve to be respected where possible. Just by knowing that they exist in the first place is a good enough starting point in being able to do something.

To go back to the Zero Hunger example - if you can, try and buy local produce, whether that be UK produce in the supermarket or from a local market. This has clear links to sustainability and ensures production of UK produce can continue. Further ways to be sustainable and help slow down climate change can be found here.

If you can, donate to your local food banks, or indeed make use of them if you need to. The Trussell Trust is a good starting point but there may be others in your local area, too.

Don’t commit any crimes, either.


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