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Universal Goals, Devolved Powers: The Sustainable Development Goals and the UK’s Response

Universal Goals, Devolved Powers: The Sustainable Development Goals and the UK’s Response

Although the UN's sustainable development goals apply to every nation, discussion regarding their implementation in the UK has so far been minimal. That’s why, 18 months after they were launched, the OU held a series of workshops in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff to gain a clearer understanding of how – and to what extent – they’re being implemented within the UK, particularly within the devolved powers of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Findings from the events, which had around 200 participants from government, NGOs, the voluntary sector and higher education, have now been published in a new report: Universal Goals, Devolved Powers: The Sustainable Development Goals and the UK’s Response.

Key findings include:

  • ‘Joined-up’ government is essential. Domestic and international responses cannot work in siloes but, as yet, no UK-wide implementation plan exists.
  • Public engagement will be crucial, both to effective implementation and to holding governments and key players to account.
  • If public engagement is to be successful, a more compelling narrative and new ways of illustrating what sustainable development might look like – moving away from images of wind turbines and ‘poor people’ – is needed.

In essence, a new global partnership for sustainable development is called for. One that extends responsibility for delivery beyond national governments to stakeholders including civil society, the private sector, academia and local authorities. For this to occur, a much greater emphasis on collaboration is needed and, above all, a fundamental shift in how governments and citizens work together needs to take place: from ‘doing to’ to ‘doing with’.

To organise the workshops and produce the report, the OU worked closely with partners CADA NISD AllianceNIDOS and SCVO. Support is also gratefully acknowledged from Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF).

Read Universal Goals, Devolved Powers: The Sustainable Development Goals and the UK’s Response.

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