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WWF - Businesses unite in a bid to make the UK economy "fit for the future" by backing sustainable development

Over 80 major businesses have united to call on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the UK and overseas.

Open letter to Prime Minister says sustainable development is essential to long term prosperity and the wellbeing of future generations.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, 84 leading companies including Diageo, HSBC, Ikea and Unilever have united in a call on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals* (SDGs).

Ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting taking place on 17-20 January, businesses say they are ready to work with the Government to help deliver the SDGs in the UK as well as internationally, but that the Government must create a framework to help businesses play their part.

The letter is published on the day that the Business and Sustainable Development Commission publishes its own flagship report on the business case for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth, and quantifying the value of private sector opportunities aligned with the SDGs.

Nick Davies, Founder of Neighbourly, commented:

"It's easy to be sceptical about the role of business in society - to castigate failure when things go wrong rather than celebrate success. But in truth is there is no business case for enduring inequality.  It's bad for society and bad for business too. Today's great companies don't just want to contribute.  They're ready to collaborate and build a powerful coalition for change but need the support of government and citizens to help unlock society's true potential.

This open letter is an emphatic demonstration of a desire to work in partnership using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for success.  U.K. Government should seize this opportunity to work with business to help shape an inclusive community action plan that works for all."

Juliet Davenport, Founder and CEO of Good Energy, commented:

"The challenges of achieving sustainability are complex and intertwined. Tackling them takes a cross-sector, multidisciplinary and co-ordinated approach. The Sustainable Development Goals give us a universal framework to ensure that everyone committed to sustainability is singing from the same hymn sheet. They're not about overseas development; they're about sustainability everywhere. And to give the SDGs their best chance of success in the UK, we need a clear and concrete demonstration from Government that it has embraced the Goals."

The letter was co-ordinated by UK Stakeholders in Sustainable Development (UKSSD), a non-profit network of businesses, NGOs and academics working to advance sustainable development and help facilitate the delivery of the SDGs in the UK.

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive for WWF-UK, commented:

“It’s good business to be fit for the future and consider long-term prosperity alongside the well-being of generations to come. Our current business models too often plunder and pollute the world’s natural resources with devastating consequences for our planet. From increasingly severe weather patterns to the dramatic bleaching of coral reefs and the destruction of rainforests, the need to protect our planet and its people is more urgent than ever before.

By developing more sustainably, the UK can play an important international leadership role – and UK businesses are natural leaders.  This letter to the Prime Minister is a clear signal that businesses stand ready to play their part. It is time for the Government to heed this call and set out a strong plan that Ministers can translate into action. If governments and businesses work together to achieve the SDGs, they have the power to transform our world and deliver a future in which people and nature thrive.”

Notes to the Editor

  1. The open letter was co-ordinated by UK Stakeholders in Sustainable Development (UKSSD). The UKSSD steering group comprises Bioregional, Good Energy, ICAEW, Neighbourly,  Stakeholder Forum, UN Global Compact Network UK and WWF-UK.www.ukssd.co.uk

  2. Further details of the UN Sustainable Development Goals can be found here https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

  3. Sustainable development – from ending poverty and gender inequality to fighting climate change and protecting our land, rivers and seas – is essential to the UK’s long-term prosperity. It will help create jobs, increase competitiveness and secure the natural resources our economy relies on.

  4. The SDGs are formed of 17 goals and 169 targets to encourage action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet. The UK Government played a leading role in developing the SDGs and many businesses have embraced them as a driver of sustainable business strategies, innovation and investment decisions.

  5. Participating businesses - Abundance, Account 3, AkzoNobel, Alpro, Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association’s (ADBA), Anglian Water, Article 13, Aviva, BAM, Bioregional, B Lab, Body Shop, Brand Legacy, BT, Business in the Community, Calverts, Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, Coca-Cola European Partners, Coca-Cola GB, Consciam, Cool Earth, Co-op, Corporate Citizenship, The Crowd, Designing Futures, Diageo, Dong Energy, Ecology Building Society, Ecuity, Ernst & Young LLP (EY), Forensic Pathways Ltd, Forster Communications, Freeland Horticulture, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, Fujitsu, Good Energy, HSBC, Ikea, Impact International, Infinergy, Innocent, Interface, ISEAL Alliance, Jaguar Land Rover, John Lewis, Kingfisher, Kinnarps,  Koreo, KPMG, Mars, National Grid, Natural Capital Coalition, Neighbourly, Nestle, Office Depot, Old Mutual,  Open Energi, Pearson, Positive Luxury, Pukka, PwC,  REG Power Management, Relational Analytics, RELX Group, Rockwool, Sainsbury's, Salter Baxter, Sedex, Singleton Birch, Sodexo, Standard Chartered, Sustainable Restaurants Association, Sysdoc, Tesco, Thai Union, thirdbridge, Too Good To Go, Triodos Bank, twentyfifty, UN Global Compact Network UK, Unilever, Verco, Vodafone, Walgreens Boots Alliance

  6. On the 17-20 January 2017 the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting takes place in Davos. The theme of the 2017 meeting is ‘Responsive Leadership’

  7. Dear Prime Minister, As a group of businesses investing in making our economy fit for the future, we support sustainable development in the UK. This is essential for our long-term prosperity and the wellbeing of generations to come. The UK Government played a leading role in developing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and adopted them just over a year ago. As businesses, we’re ready to take responsibility and work with the Government to make sure the SDGs are delivered in the UK and around the world. Sustainable development will create jobs, increase competitiveness and secure the natural resources our economy relies on. We support your Government to:

  • Demonstrate to business your commitment to deliver the SDGs in the UK

  • Work with businesses to deliver the SDGs, creating a transparent reporting framework and clear benchmarks

  • Require all departments, not only the Department for International Development, to work with business and other stakeholders to develop an SDG delivery plan

       Together we can build a fairer, sustainable and more prosperous Britain.

       The letter can be found here

For further information, please contact:

Joanna Trinick  |  +44 (0)1483 412429  |  jtrinick@wwf.org.uk

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