Scotland's Sustainable Development Goals Network
Organisation Signatories

Gareth Jones: The time is now for Sustainable Development Goals

Organisations from across the country have come together to call on powerbrokers to show their commitment to creating a fairer and healthier planet.

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

And third sector groups have joined those from the public and private spheres in asking the country’s key decision makers to show their commitment to delivering the SDGs by publishing specific actions they are taking that relate to the 17 areas reflected in the goals.

Scotland’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Network – backed by organisations and individuals from across the country – has issued an open letter to Scottish political parties, parliamentary committees, the Scottish Cabinet, Scotland’s Secretary of State and all 32 local authorities.

The letter has 300 signatories from the private, public and third sectors, including Scotland’s International Development Alliance, Glasgow Caledonian University and WWF Scotland.

SDG network coordinator Paul Bradley said: “The SDGs are the closest the world has come to a plan to end extreme poverty, tackle inequalities and combat climate change, and Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to sign up in 2015.

“Now entering our third year of action, this letter presents an opening for civil society, business and government to come together to make sure that actions are taken in Scotland to see that the SDGs are achieved.”

The network is a coalition of people and organisations who have pledged to ensure that every effort is taken to implement the SDGs across Scottish life.

It said the purpose of the letter is to raise awareness of the SDGs at a strategic level, encourage a sense of responsibility from institutions and key individuals, and map out where existing activity is and track progress over the coming years.

The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, came into effect in January 2016, having been created by the United Nations as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Scotland became one of the first nations to publicly commit to adopting the goals two years ago.

Addressed to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the letter calls for an update on what action has been taken to ensure that the SDGs are achieved in a Scottish context.

“The initial commitment to the SDGs has been vital and should be applauded,” the letter said.

“Every party leader in the Scottish Parliament has pledged support to the SDGs and 100 of Scotland’s 129 MSPs have chosen an SDG which they will champion in parliament. However now is the tough part – implementing the SDGs.

“From the development of a national website for the SDGs to a special pop-up exhibition and the inception of Scotland’s SDG Network, our organisation has worked to mobilise people in Scotland around the SDGs since their adoption. We now want to work with you to achieve a breakthrough in sustainable development in Scotland and overseas.”

The SDGs include commitments to end world hunger, create sustainable cities and communities, and allow life below water to prosper.

Dr Sam Gardner, director of WWF Scotland, said they can help steer the world away from environmental armageddon and that now is the time for action.

“Nature around the world is in crisis, under threat from multiple environmental problems,” he said.

“Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals is vital if we are to halt the global loss of biodiversity and save threatened species from extinction. Everyone in Scotland depends on natural resources for our everyday needs – for our food, water, housing and jobs.

“We all have a role to play, delivering on the SDGs will require action from us all, governments, businesses and people.”

The SDGs also have a focus on people’s living conditions, with promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all and ending poverty for all amongst the key principles.

Peter Kelly

The Poverty Alliance is another example of a charity which has signed the letter, and director Peter Kelly said that although the SDGs set high targets, they are achievable through cooperation.

“Poverty eradication is quite rightly at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

“However, the Global Goals remind us that we need integrated approaches if we are to create the kind of transformation required to protect the environment, create a fairer economy and tackle inequality. The goals are challenging but achievable, but only if all those with responsibility show what they are doing to implement them.”

The goals place young people at the centre of achieving their successes – with young leaders being created to drive through the aims and help people across the world prosper.

“As a charity that works with young people it’s vital we help build a fairer and more sustainable community for future generations,” said Paul Reddish of ProjectScotland.

“I encourage other organisations and individuals to not only pledge to support the SDGs, but to take action. Include the SDGs in your strategies. Your campaigns. Your wider work.

“They apply to everyone: businesses, third sector organisations and individuals. Together we can create a more positive future for generations to come. Together is the key word and all decision makers have a role in taking this forward.”

Plastic bottles collecting on Scottish shores

Mobilising businesses to take action is one of the challenges facing the SDG Network. Alan Thornburrow, director of Business in the Community Scotland, said the business collaboration is key to ensuring success for the project.

“The SDGs are the world’s roadmap towards a fairer and more sustainable future,” he said. “They will only be realised through collaboration between business, government and civic society to solve the pressing problems of our time. The SDGs sit at the heart of our strategy and are central to the pursuit of a truly inclusive and sustainable Scotland.”

All responses to the letter will be published online in May, with the information being collated to show the direction Scotland has taken two years on from the initial commitment from the government.



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