Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Government’s Voluntary National Review casts doubt on its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals
The International Development Committee (IDC) identifies serious failings in the preparation and presentation of UK’s first Voluntary National Review of progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
- Read the Report Summary [HTML]
- Read the Report's Recommendations and Conclusions [HTML]
- Read the Report [HTML]
- The UK has taken a long time to get around to producing a VNR (some countries have produced two since 2015) and so expectations were naturally that much higher, and the disappointment that much greater.
- The Government had 19 months between committing to a VNR and producing it. Despite this, the timeline was squeezed and most of the work – and virtually all of the engagement activity – was left to the last few months, preventing stakeholders from meaningfully engaging in, or influencing, the final report.
- The engagement activity recommended by the UN – consultation with stakeholders like human rights institutions; trades unions; business and industry; NGOs; parliamentarians and UK academia – was not only late but also ‘ad hoc’ and superficial.
- The VNR itself was selective and partial, relying on cherry-picked data, context-free snapshots and positive vignettes, to present a ‘good story’. It skirted discussion of some serious issues, for instance: food security, poverty trends and EU withdrawal. The Secretary of State for International Development told the Committee there was “nervousness” around the Government “marking [its] own homework”.
- The implications of these failings of process and substance in the VNR is that the UK is not taking the SDG initiative seriously – as integral to, and coherent with, the Government’s overall agenda. This is also evident in making DFID the lead coordinating department, as opposed the Cabinet Office, whose role is “supporting collective government, helping to ensure the effective development, coordination and implementation of policy”. The IDC will return to this matter later in the year.
In consequence, today’s IDC report calls for:
- Steps to implement the UK’s commitment to the SDG agenda (such as: a convincing statement at today’s UN High Level Political Forum; giving overall responsibility for SDGs to the Cabinet Office; building the Goals into cross-government planning, spending review and reporting processes), and
- A commitment at the HLPF to: producing a further Review in three years’ time, with a more collaborative, consultative and comprehensive VNR process; and delivery of a more rigorous, data-driven, contextualised evaluation of the UK’s performance against the SDG targets next time.
Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“Today, the UK will present its first Voluntary National Review to the UN. This should have provided a clear indication of how far the UK has progressed towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda which includes the most crucial challenges facing the world today, across the full spectrum of social, economic, political and environmental issues. However, we have found both the preparation and the presentation of the VNR to be gravely flawed.
We fear that the priority and resources committed to the VNR process – and the whole SDGs agenda – reflect a lack of engagement and understanding at the heart of, and throughout, the UK Government.
We do welcome the progress the UK is shown to have made, and signs of some efforts made to incorporate sustainable development across government departments. But this progress has been uneven, and knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals across Government remains limited. Our sincere hope is that the Government has learned important lessons from this first VNR process and that, at today’s presentation at the HLPF, will kickstart a fresh commitment to the SDGs.”
- About Parliament: Select committees
- Visiting Parliament: Watch committees
- Previous IDC Report and inquiry on the SDGs
Latest News from
Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Stakeholders give evidence on the future of HS2 to Committee27/01/2020 11:25:00
The Economic Affairs Committee will follow-up on its 2019 Report "Rethinking High Speed 2", examining the challenges the project faces, what the alternative options for rail investment are, and what the implications of scrapping HS2 would be.
European Union Committee publishes its eighteenth treaty report23/01/2020 11:25:00
The European Union Committee has published its sixteenth report on Brexit-related international agreements.
Report published on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill15/01/2020 11:25:00
The Constitution Committee has published a report on the constitutional issues in the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill. The Bill is of the highest constitutional significance, given its intended effect of implementing Brexit.
Brexit: revised Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration report published by Committee10/01/2020 14:25:00
The House of Lords EU Select Committee has today published its report on the revised EU Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration on future UK-EU relations ahead of House Lords consideration of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which starts on Monday 13 January.
Public service broadcasters are essential and need to be supported, says Lords Committee06/11/2019 13:20:00
The Communications and Digital Committee warns that public service broadcasters (PSBs) need to be better supported to ensure that they can continue to produce high-quality drama and documentaries which reflect and examine UK culture. In return, the broadcasters need to adapt to ensure that they serve and reflect all audiences.
Implications of Withdrawal Agreement Bill examined06/11/2019 12:20:00
The Constitution Committee publishes an interim report on the constitutional issues in the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill. The bill is of the highest constitutional significance, given its intended effect of implementing a Brexit deal.
NHS property services set up to fail06/11/2019 11:25:00
NHS Property Services Limited has made progress in tackling some of the issues that it inherited when it was set up. However, it has struggled to get its tenants to sign rental agreements for the properties they occupy, and it is unacceptable that 70% of its tenants still do not have rental agreements in place.
Churn and political interference hampering major project delivery, says PACAC report05/11/2019 16:47:00
Political pressures and staff turnover can significantly impact the Government’s ability to successfully deliver major infrastructure projects, finds an interim report published
Court reforms slow to check impact of changes05/11/2019 14:25:00
HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has again fallen behind on critical reforms. HMCTS is now 3 years into its ambitious £1.2 billion programme to modernise the courts, which plan to change the way people access justice by digitising paper-based services, moving some types of cases online, introducing virtual hearings, closing courts and centralising customer services.