UK religious leaders call on the Prime Minister to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals

19th November 2018

‘We believe that by working together we can build a future that is fair and just for all people, and a resilient and sustainable UK’

To mark the end of UK Inter Faith Week, religious leaders and faith-based organisations have come together in a letter to the Prime Minister to urge greater collaboration to drive forward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The letter highlights the increasing concerns of leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist faiths about the reliance on food banks, growing obesity rates, ill-health and loss of opportunities in communities across the UK. They identify the link between socio-economic strains and the negative attitudes this is causing towards those incorrectly perceived to be the cause, migrants and asylum seekers.

The letter goes on to identify the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an opportunity to ‘build cohesion and resilience’ in communities and ensure ‘that the UK is able to help resolve challenges we share globally with the international community’. It also says that ‘progress is not being made quickly enough’ to deliver the SDGs. 

As a result, religious leaders and faith-based organisations are calling on the Prime Minister and her Government to:
  • Produce a coherent plan for the SDGs and work collaboratively with them
  • Act on its duty to enable local responses to the SDGs, including working closely with those communities of faith and belief
  • Appoint a minister for the SDGs

Coordinated by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and United Society for Partners in the Gospel (USPG), the letter draws on evidence from a report published by UKSSD in July 2018 which assessed the UK’s performance on the SDGs. It states that ‘only 24% of the SDG targets are on track to be achieved in the UK’ and ‘we believe we can do better’.

The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford: ‘At a time when there is so much in the news about divisions in our nation and in the world, we are seeking to demonstrate that faith communities in the UK are already working for the betterment of our society, and the world, and looking forward to working alongside government and the British people in taking the vitally important Sustainable Development Goals forward’.

The letter follows the UK’s commitment to work with stakeholders in the UK as it produces it’s report to the United Nations on progress against the SDGs which will be launched in July 2019 and presented by the PM during the United Nations General Assembly.

Stakeholders have repeated called on the Government to work more effectively with them to deliver the SDGs through UKSSD. This included a letter in the Times in 2017 from the UK’s best-known brands and the publication of their report ‘Measuring up’ in July 2018.

Evidence from Measuring up shows that:
  • The UK is performing well (green) on only 24 per cent of its targets
  • Poverty and inequality continue to deepen. The number of people insecure work (zero hours, agency employment, low-paid self-employment) has risen to 3 million
  • The UK is struggling to address malnutrition in all forms, with food insecurity and obesity rising
  • Despite progress only 65 per cent of UK bathing waters are rated excellent compared to a European average of 85 per cent and almost all forms of pollution in our coastal waters is increasing
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