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More progress needed to ensure Scotland embraces sustainability

This news post is almost 5 years old

Action is needed across society to ensure targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals are met in Scotland

Scotland is making mixed progress towards achieving the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, according to a unique new report by civil society organisations.

On Target for 2030? assesses Scotland’s progress against the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing reviews on each goal, authored by expert organisations operating within each field in Scotland.

The SDGS aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.

A progress report on work that has taken place within Great Britain and Northern Ireland to adapt the principles was released by the UK Government last week, and the Scottish Government will publish its analysis in the coming weeks.

The report published today (Monday 1 July) by Oxfam and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) supplements the governmental reviews by capturing the independent assessments of a diverse range civil society stakeholders in Scotland working on issues as diverse as poverty, climate change, biodiversity, nutrition, equality, fair work, and education.

Organisations including the Child Poverty Action Group, Citizens Advice Scotland, the Fife Centre for Equalities, Girlguiding Scotland, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Scottish Trades Union Congress and the Scottish International Development Alliance all provide commentaries on progress and outline what Scotland still needs to do to reach each Goal by 2030.

A clear thread that runs through many of the contributions in On Target for 2030? is that the negative effects of slow progress on the goals are felt disproportionately by low income households. This undermines the cross-cutting commitment of all SDGs to “leave no-one behind.”

The editors of the report want to contribute to renewed pressure to meet these goals for governments, as well as amongst businesses and civil society itself. They say that improving progress is not just the responsibility of government, action is needed especially from business and the third sector, as well as individuals, in order for Scotland to fulfil its 2030 commitments.

Dr Hartwig Pautz, from the UWS-Oxfam Partnership, said: “This snapshot review is the first of its kind in Scotland. It brings together experts on every one of the goals for an honest assessment of where Scotland is and what we need to do to get on target for 2030, in their own words.

“While the individual assessments, put forward by a very diverse range of civil society organisations, show that there is clear policy and political commitment on many of these goals, more needs to be done to actually achieve them.

“The report shows that poverty and inequality are common issues with regards to many of the SDGs, and making progress on them will be essential to ensure we can achieve sustainable development.

Rhiannon Sims, policy and research adviser at Oxfam Scotland, said: “The Sustainable Development Goals will only succeed if every country signed up to them puts in place the measures needed to drive change. Whilst there is clear policy commitment in Scotland, more needs to be done to achieve the 2030 vision.

“Governments have a big role to play, but achieving this ambition is not just a responsibility for government, it also for businesses and civil society itself to contribute to this shared agenda.

“The action needed to achieve the goals by 2030 are not unrealistic or impossible. We hope that leaders at every level can use this report to redouble Scotland’s commitments to make the world free from poverty, injustice and discrimination.”

Paul Bradley, SDG network coordinator, said: "This latest report illustrates that interest and awareness of the SDGs amongst Scotland’s charities and wider civil society is constantly growing and evolving, with many more organisations embracing the goals since we set up Scotland’s SDG Network in 2017, and their placement at the heart of Scotland’s National Performance Framework.

"Meeting these goals for 2030 is not just up to politicians, it is a responsibility for all of us. This report is one of just a number of reviews to be published this summer that provide a starting point in highlighting where Scotland is succeeding or slipping behind on sustainable development and where we can unite on action."