15 February 2019


Businesses call for action on the UK's Sustainable Development Goals

The CBI and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) brought businesses, charities and government together to discuss the UK’s delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Businesses call for action on the UK's Sustainable Development Goals

Businesses call for action on the UK’s Sustainable Development Goals and to accelerate growth of sustainable finance in the UK

  • ICC and CBI roundtable brought businesses, charities and government representatives together to discuss the UK’s delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Ahead of the UK Voluntary Review at the UN High Level Political Forum  in September this year we want to see clear definitions of the SDGs, with a plan to communicate these to consumers and business
  • A joined-up government strategy on par with Sweden, Germany and Switzerland is needed to make the UK a world leader in sustainable and green finance

The challenges posed by sustainable development and climate change are some of the most pressing issues of our time. Climate-related risks to health, livelihood, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C. Development goals are also now an integral part of our global commitments under the UN SDG framework. Action is needed now to ensure that global warming does not hit the 2°C mark and development goals are fully integrated into our national economic plan. The urgency of the change needed cannot be ignored, and businesses, governments and society will play a pivotal role in driving it. However, whilst the challenges may appear large, the opportunities that have arisen - and will continue to do so - from a focus on sustainable development and sustainable financing could outweigh these costs.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) held a roundtable on 13th February with representatives from the business community, the Department for International Development and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Non-Governmental Organisations, to discuss the UK’s delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The CBI welcomes the ICC initiative on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy UK PACT to focus attention on the impact business and government can have in this space.    

For businesses, the starting point to adapting to climate change and delivering on UK commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals has to be ensuring their on-going competitiveness within the UK. We need to support  industry to decarbonise  here in the UK, rather than move abroad, which requires smart policies that avoid cumulative cost burdens.

Sustainable Finance is a key enabler to this . Access to sustainable finance will allow businesses to find new ways to decarbonise and increase their productivity through investment in innovative technologies and research and development. The Government must find innovative solutions to allow firms across all sectors of the economy to transition to sustainable business models.

The UK is a world leader in this area. Its expertise in innovation, skills and its world-class financial sector set it at the top of the global table. It is therefore vital that the Government and business act now to capitalise on the golden opportunities sustainable finance could bring.  

As we look forward to the UN High Level Political Forum in September, where the UK will be under  review on its delivery of the SDGs, it is integral that business, government and civil society work together in providing:

  • A clear joined up strategy across government that includes the departments for development, trade, business and environment
  • A clear definition of the sustainable development goals and a clear plan for how the UK can deliver these successfully
  • A clear communications plan outlining what the SDGs are, what they mean for consumers and how consumers can contribute to helping the UK achieve its goals
  • An action plan on how business and government can work together to accelerate sustainable finance in the UK.