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Government rejects focus on tackling inequality in Sustainable Development Goals

12 February 2015

Publication of Government response, Connected world: Agreeing Sustainable Development Goals in 2015

Joan Walley MP, chair of the Committee, said:

“It is vital that we get the right Sustainable Development Goals, being negotiated at the UN at the end of this year. Not only will they shape the aid programmes for developing countries up to 2030, but for the first time the UN goals will bind the UK and other developed countries too. It will be important that the broad range of issues already identified by the UN’s preparatory work is fully reflected in the final Goals. That means tackling extreme poverty, but it also means explicitly addressing inequality between and within all countries, so it is disappointing that the Government rejects that inequality focus.”

In its Response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s December 2014 report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Government rejects the MPs’ call to push for the SDGs to address inequality alongside poverty, reflecting the early draft of the SDGs published by the UN ‘Open Working Group’ in 2014. The Government prefers the SDGs to focus on tackling extreme poverty — ‘leaving no one behind’ in all groups of people — and highlights what it saw as a need “to address the shortcoming of the [previous Millennium Development Goals by] moving beyond measurement by averages”.

The Government agrees on the need for the SDGs to cover the breadth of the 17 goals in the UN ‘Open Working Group’ draft, but reiterates its call for having fewer than 17 SDGs in the final version. The Government favours what it terms a “visible integration” of climate across the SDGs, but does not explicitly support or reject having a separate climate change goal which was recommended by the Committee.

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