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Saferworld welcomes call by UK parliamentarians for a whole of government effort to implement the Sustainable Development Goals

8 June 2016

The UK parliamentary International Development Committee today published its report on the UK’s implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focuses on both domestic implementation as well as support for international implementation. Saferworld welcomes the report, and the Committee’s emphasis on the need for a whole of government plan and approach to SDG implementation. The SDGs represent an ambitious and complex agenda – the success of which will rely not only on the effective delivery of aid, but a concerted effort across a diverse range of actors to deliver. This is particularly the case for work on Global Goal 16 on peaceful, just and inclusive societies – a complex agenda that needs collective action.

It is clear that it is not just the Department for International Development’s (DFID) responsibility to see through the implementation of the SDGs, though it does have an important leadership role to play. Indeed, the universal nature of the 2030 Agenda means that all countries, including the UK, need to take concrete steps to implement its 17 SDGs. This will require coordination at the domestic level and also across UK ministries and policies that support and promote security and development overseas.

The SDGs represent a statement of intent to deliver for the world’s poorest, including through promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies (outlined in Goal 16, and identified as one of the 2030 Agenda’s five cross-cutting priorities). With the commitment to spend at least 50% of its budget in conflict-affected and fragile contexts, DFID should outline how it is planning to fund programmes that contribute to the implementation of Goal 16 - such as improving people’s security and access to justice – in addition to pursuing a more mainstream development agenda in fragile contexts. However, collective engagement across different departments on this agenda will be crucial in demonstrating that the UK Government is pulling in the same direction. The work of one part of government could easily be undermined if other departments continue with business as usual; this is particularly the case for trade, tax, and policies relating to countering violent extremism and the arms trade. Ensuring that each department is clear about its role and responsibility in SDG implementation will be crucial in promoting a whole of government approach.

Saferworld further welcomes the call by the Committee for this coordinated response to push back against the closing down of civil society space around the world. Civil society will be important implementation partners for the SDGs – and crucially important to increase the prospects of better, more responsive governance.

The Committee also calls for the government to encourage private sector investment in the developing and fragile states that need most support. This is welcome. However, it is important to recognise that all development finance – including ODA and private sector investment – must be delivered and mobilised in a way that minimises the risk of conflict and seeks to enhance the prospects for peace.

This report represents a welcome call for action on SDG implementation and an opportunity for the UK Government to demonstrate through specific funding and coordinated planning its continued leadership on this important agenda.

Read the Saferworld submission to the International Development Committee's inquiry on the Sustainable Development Goals

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The universal nature of the 2030 Agenda means that all countries, including the UK, need to take concrete steps to implement its 17 SDGs. This will require coordination at the domestic level and also across UK ministries and policies that support and promote security and development overseas.

Shelagh Daley