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Leaders call on Prime Minister to create socially just Coronavirus recovery plan

18 June 2020

Disability Rights UK has joined with leaders of more than 100 household name companies, charities, universities, and trade associations to call on Government to ensure that United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of UK Coronavirus recovery plans.

SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States, including the UK, in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

The UK is performing well on 24% of its SDG targets, and could enhance this if they were used to frame the UK’s recovery from Coronavirus.

A letter sent to the Prime Minister on 9 June calls on his government to use the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to frame Covid-19 recovery plans. 

The letter references a statement made by the Prime Minister on 28 May where he called for a "fairer, greener and more resilient global economy" after Coronavirus. He said that we must ‘work together to get shared goals back on track including [...] the Sustainable Development Goals’.

The letter supports this and states ‘we do not need to reinvent frameworks or agreements, we can instead use the global goals as the basis for a socially just and green recovery in the UK and abroad’.

Early evidence from the Business and Sustainable Development Commission showed that if implemented the SDGs create at least US$12tn in business opportunities in just 60 market hotspots and estimates this could be 2-3 times bigger across the whole economy.  

Signatories include: leaders of DR UK and Leonard Cheshire, Natwest Group, Nestle UK & Ireland, Linklaters, Clifford Chance, The Body Shop, SSE, HSBC, Standard Life Aberdeen, Mott MacDonald and Unilever; filmmaker Richard Curtis; the Mayor of Bristol; Chairman of the Local Government Association and Dr Mya-Rose Craig (aka Birdgirl).

The letter states that the ‘SDGs provide an internationally agreed framework, which also works at national, regional and local level, alongside and reinforcing existing plans and commitments.’

It asks that the SDGs be ‘used to consolidate and future-proof [recovery] plans’ and goes on to recommend that they are used to:

  1. Prioritise the most vulnerable in our society and level-up regional and societal inequalities
  2. Build coherent policies for a healthy planet and to aid the transition to net zero
  3. Unite all sectors behind a plan to build a stronger and more resilient economy

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “Coronavirus risks putting the prospects of disabled people in this country back at least 20 years. We have fought long and hard for equal opportunities, in employment, in education, for access to our environments, and for our quality of life. But it also provides us with an opportunity to reshape how we do things, to re-address inequality, and to focus on prosperity for everyone. The government has initiated radical short-term solutions to dealing with the Coronavirus crisis. Now is the time for it to show that it can think that radically in the longer term for all of us too.”

The letter has been coordinated by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and the United Nations Global Compact Network UK (GCN UK).

The UKSSD Measuring Up report, found gaps in policy or inadequate performance for 57% of targets, and 15% where there is little to no policy in place to address it, or where performance is poor. It anticipates that this situation will be worsened by the societal and economic impacts of Coronavirus.