Leaders call on PM to create socially just and green recovery form Covid-19

Leaders call on Prime Minister to create socially just and green recovery from Covid-19

● Richard Curtis CBE, Paul Polman, Michael Izza and leaders of more than 100 renowned companies, charities, universities, and trade associations call on the UK Government to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of UK Covid-19 recovery plans

● The Sustainable Development Goals provide us with a blueprint to end poverty and inequality and put health, wellbeing and job creation at the heart of Covid-19 recovery plans in the UK

● The UK is performing well on 24% of the Sustainable Development Goal targets and could enhance this if they were used to frame the UK’s recovery from Covid-19

A letter sent to the Prime Minister on Tuesday 9th 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 at the Financing for Development event on 28 May where he called for “fairer, greener and more resilient global economy” after Covid-19. 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.

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

Signatories include leaders of 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 ‘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

The SDGs are part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and give a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. There are 17 Goals at its centre, encompassing climate action, education and health.

Unfortunately, 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 Covid-19.


Richard Curtis, UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, film writer, director and co-founder of Project Everyone

“The COVID crisis has shown more than ever that we must work together to secure a better future. The Global Goals are a powerful tool to help us do this; they provide a common vision and a practical blueprint for collaboration. The breadth of support for this letter demonstrates a commitment to working with the UK government to deliver healthy lives, healthy societies and a healthy planet for everyone. We can only build back better together and I hope that the Government will use the Goals to help them do this”

Michael Izza, ICAEW Chief Executive

“The Sustainable Development Goals are an important framework to ensure governments and businesses are pursuing the long-term public interest, so we hope the Prime Minister will use them as a foundation for the UK’s post-COVID recovery plans.

“As chartered accountants, we think it’s vital businesses look beyond profit and have a wider social purpose, and we’re pleased to have so many organisations join our call to government to put these goals front and centre.”

Steve Kenzie, Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network UK

“The SDGs define a universal framework for governments, businesses, and civil society to work together and create the future we want. We’re only 10 years away from the deadline to achieve the goals, and the Covid-19 crisis risks worsening inequalities and slowing down progress made. The SDG agenda must be used by the Government to ensure the UK recovers better, recovers stronger, and recovers together”.

Emily Auckland, Network Director, UKSSD

“Covid-19 has placed a spotlight on inequalities in our society. We have an opportunity to make sure our recovery from this crisis is fair and just so that people and places across the UK can prosper. This does not have to be in conflict with our net-zero carbon ambitions and the SDGs help us work together to create social and environmental outcomes, so all people have a happy life on a healthy planet”.

For media enquiries, please contact: below.

SDG opportunities

The Business and Sustainable Development Commission report ‘Better Business, Better World’ identified a US$12tn market opportunity in 60 market hotspots and the potential to create 980 million jobs. They estimate the opportunity would be 2-3 times bigger across the whole economy.

Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls:

McKinsey’s Power of Parity report showed that bridging the gender gap in the UK workforce could add billions of GDP and 840,000 female employees to the workforce in the.

About the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD)

Through collaboration and access to new insights, UKSSD brings organisations together to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UK. UKSSD was launched in April 2016 and has grown to more than 1,000 network members, representing most sectors and industries in the UK, from grass-roots community organisations to multinational business.

We work with our partners to use their cross-sector voice to influence government and organisations on their approach to the SDGs. With shared expertise and leadership, we support them to learn from each other, develop their activities and identify new opportunities for collaboration, such as our new Food Systems Programme which launched in January 2020.
About the UN Global Compact Network UK

Launched in 2000 as a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact provides a framework for developing more sustainable and responsible businesses. Today, the UN Global Compact is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with more than 10,500 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 60 Local Networks. It is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. Its mission is to mobilise a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create the world we want.

The UN Global Compact Network UK delivers an extensive programme of activity to support UK-based UN Global Compact participating organisations. The Network promotes practical sustainability leadership, shares knowledge across sectors, and actively shapes the responsible business environment to create a world we want to live and do business in.
About the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, or “the Global Goals”) are an initiative of the United Nations.

Together, the Global Goals set out an ambitious agenda for a better world by 2030 – fairer, safer, healthier, more prosperous and in better balance with nature. The goals have been described as “the closest thing the world has to a strategy”.

The Global Goals were born out of a vast consultation process and were ratified by 193 global leaders in September 2015. There are 17 goals, with 169 targets sitting underneath them, covering every facet of life on Earth – social, economic and environmental.

Unlike the Millennium Development Goals which preceded them, the SDGs are not primarily focused on developing countries; they are about sustainability everywhere.

The SDGs are a common blueprint for a sustainable future – as relevant to communities, households and individuals as they are to governments, businesses, and NGOs.



The Rt. Honourable Boris Johnson MP Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

SW1A 2AA 9 June 2020

Dear Prime Minister,

Building a better future through the COVID-19 recovery programmes

As the Government plans for the UK’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the signatories of this letter write to ask that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are used to consolidate and future-proof these plans.

We recognise that we must work together to recover from the pandemic and build a better future where all people in the country have a good life on a healthy planet. The SDGs can help us to do this and there is already widespread support across UK society, including the business community, for the future the global goals define.

We welcome your recent statement that we need a ‘fairer, greener and more resilient’ global economy’ and to ‘build back better’ after the coronavirus crisis. We acknowledge the letters you have already received that ask for this. However, we also support the statement you made on the 28th May that ‘there is a need for us to work together to get our shared goals back on track including […] the Sustainable Development Goals’. As you said, 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.

Together the 17 Goals provide us with an internationally agreed framework, which also works at national, regional and local levels, alongside and reinforcing existing plans and commitments. They enable the Government to work cross-departmentally and with stakeholders to create programmes and policies that are coherent with the needs of our economy, society and environment both domestically and internationally.

We, therefore, recommend that the Government:

Use the SDGs to unite all sectors behind a plan to build a stronger and more resilient economy

It is clear that many aspects of our lives will never be the same again. Some industries may never recover from this crisis. We must use this challenging situation as an opportunity to work together with our global and national partners alike, to build a stronger and more resilient economy with the SDGs at its heart.

Use the SDGs to prioritise the most vulnerable in our society and level-up regional and societal inequalities.
COVID-19 has exposed the depth of inequalities and risks exposing more families to income deprivation and its consequences. We welcome the Government’s commitment to levelling up prosperity across the UK and urge a similar focus to overcome wider societal inequalities. The SDGs provide us with a framework which can help us prioritise health and wellbeing, alongside prosperity and GDP, as a measure of the nation’s success. We need to ensure that our recovery from the pandemic leaves no one behind and puts the health and wellbeing of current and future generations first.

Use the SDGs to build coherent policies for a healthy planet and to aid the transition to net-zero

COVID-19 has highlighted the risks our society faces because of biodiversity and habitat loss, and climate change. We must balance social and economic needs with the needs of our planet, protecting and managing nature and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. These goals do not have to be in conflict. The SDGs provide a way to create co-benefits through the Government’s commitment to net-zero by 2050 and coherent policy design.

We recognise that the scale of recovery will pose many challenges for the Government. But the COVID-19 crisis has shown that businesses, government, and civil society can and will work together to create lasting and positive change. We believe the SDGs should be used to establish the level of ambition for the UK’s pandemic-recovery and a future that ensures all people in our country live a good life, prospering on a healthy planet.

We want to build the future we want with the Government and are ready to support you in this endeavour.

Yours sincerely Individuals

Baroness Northover
Baroness Sheehan
Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool Lord Harris of Haringey

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Co-chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development

Lord McNicol of West Kilbride
Lord Bird of Notting Hill
Lord Purvis of Tweed
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol – the first UK city to develop a Voluntary Local Review Rt Revd Richard Atkinson OBE, Bishop of Bedford

Sir Mark Moody-Stewart KCMG The Earl of Sandwich


Jonathan Pell, CEO, Adam Smith International Gary Waite, Portfolio Manager, Alpha: r2 Ltd Peter Simpson, CEO, Anglian Water
Stuart McLachlan, CEO, Anthesis Group

Jane Fiona Cumming, Director and Co-founder, Article 13 Dervilla Mitchell, Chair, UKIMEA Region Board, ArupHarriet Lamb, CEO, Ashden
Ben Moore, Managing Director, Attollo Offshore

Mike Hanson, Director of Sustainability, BaxterStorey

Colin MacIsaac, CEO, FH Bertling International GmbH

Sue Riddlestone OBE, Chief Executive and Co-founder, Bioregional

Dr Mya-Rose Craig, President and Patron, Black2Nature and the Global Goals Centre

Stephanie Draper, CEO, Bond

Will Travers OBE, Executive President, Born Free Foundation

Peter Mather, Group Regional President, Europe, and Head of Country, UK, BP plc

Lizzi Testani, Chief Operating Officer, Bristol Green Capital Partnership

Richard Griffiths, Chief Executive, British Poultry Council

Helen Ashworth, National President, Business and Professional Women UK

Yusuke Mizoguchi, Senior Managing Director, Canon UK & Ireland

Professor Tim Jackson, Director, Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, University of Surrey

Lexie Jones, CEO, Change Agents UK
Terry Fuller, Chief Executive, CIWEM
Matthew Layton, Global Managing Partner, Clifford Chance

Jeroen Ouwehand, Global Senior Partner, Clifford Chance
Leendert Den Hollander, Vice President and General Manager Great Britain, Coca-Cola

European Partners
Federico Tonetti, Group Safety & Sustainability Director, Compass Group
Mark Roberts, CEO, Conscious Creatives
Caroline Norbury, Chief Executive, Creative Industries Federation and Creative England Albert Maasland, CEO, Crown Agents Bank
Simon Wyatt, Partner, Cundall
Dan Mobley, Corporate Relations Director, Diageo
Kamran Mallick, CEO, Disability Rights UK
Liam Cowell, UK Managing Partner, DLA Piper UK
Sir Nigel Knowles, Group CEO, DWF
Emmanuelle Spriet, CEO, E-Voyages Ltd
Steven Andrews, CEO, Earthwatch Europe
Iain Patton, CEO, EAUC – The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education
Mathios Rigas, CEO, Energean Oil & Gas
Dr Stephen Martin, Chair, English Learning for Sustainability Alliance
Anya Ledwith, Founder, Eshcon Ltd
Sarah Hunter, CSR Director, Euromonitor
Jeremy Rees, CEO, ExCeL London
Steve Varley, EY UK Chairman and EY Global Vice Chair – Sustainability (elect), EY
Dr Hans-Christoph Hirt, Head of EOS, Federated Hermes
Chris Mahady, Managing Director, Findel Education Ltd
Daniel Crossley, Executive Director, Food Ethics Council
Sue Pritchard, Chief Executive, Food, Farming and Countryside Commission
Deb Leary OBE, D.Univ, FRSA, CCMI, CEO, Forensic Pathways
Amanda Powell-Smith, CEO, Forster Communications
Professor Graham Smith, Chair, Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development Edward Braham, Senior Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Rosie Teasdale, Executive Director, FSC® UK
Solitaire Townsend, Co-founder, Futerra
Jo Hand, Co-founder, Giki

Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Glasgow Caledonian University

Juliet Davenport OBE, CEO and Founder, Good Energy

Sarah Mitchell, Director, Heart of the City

Alison Brown, Executive Partner, West, Herbert Smith Freehills

Steve Nunn, CEO EMEA, HH Global

Noel Quinn, Chief Executive, HSBC Group

Trewin Restorick, CEO & Founder, Hubbub

Ray Sweeney, CEO, Ikkaido

Paul Polman, Co-founder & Chair, IMAGINE

Stephen Mann, Chief Executive, Institute and Faculty of Actuaries

Michael Izza, CEO, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Anita Longley, Chair, Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

Peter Taylor, Director of Research, Institute of Development Studies

Adam Donnan, Chief Executive Officer, Institution of Environmental Sciences

Keith Barr, CEO, InterContinental Hotels Group

Saker Nusseibeh CBE, CEO, International at Federated Hermes

Jess McQuail, Director, Just Fair

Barry Fisher, Chief Executive, Keep Scotland Beautiful

Matthew Sparkes, Co-chair, Legal Sustainability Alliance

Caroline May, Co-chair, Legal Sustainability Alliance

Neil Heslop, Chief Executive, Leonard Cheshire Disability

Estelle Levin-Nally, Founder & CEO, Levin Sources

Charlie Jacobs, Senior Partner and Chairman, Linklaters

David Connor, Founder, Liverpool 2030hub

Alastair Marsh, CEO, Lloyd’s Register

Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman, Local Government Association

Sir Richard Leese CBE, Chair of the Local Government Association’s City Regions Board,

Local Government Association

John Pearce, CEO, Made in Britain

Didier Boudy, CEO, Mademoiselle Desserts

Tony Burdon, CEO, Make My Money Matter

Chris Harrop OBE, Group Sustainability Director, Marshalls plc

James Libson, Managing Partner, Mishcon de Reya LLP

Mike Haigh, Executive Chair, Mott MacDonald

Pat Black, Chair, National Alliance of Women’s Organisations

Alison Rose, Chief Executive, NatWest Group

Sarah Welsh, CEO of Retail, N Brown Group

Christopher R. Jackson, President & CEO, NEC Europe Ltd.

Steve Butterworth, CEO, Neighbourly

Stefano Agostini, Chief Executive Officer, Nestle UK & Ireland

Bernadette Sexton, Chief Executive Officer, Oxford Policy Management

Panos Kakoullis, CEO-Elect, PA Consulting

Dan Jarman, Executive Director, Pact Global (UK) CIO

Charlotte Österman, Partner & Director of Sustainable Development, Pax Tecum Global Consultancy

John Fallon, CEO, Pearson

Jack M Broadley MA, Founder and Business Owner, Pelorus Consulting

Richard Foley, Senior Partner, Pinsent Masons

Richard Curtis CBE, SDG Advocate, screenwriter, producer, director and Co-Founder,

Project Everyone

Dr Márcia Balisciano, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Chair, RELX and UN Global Compact Network UK

Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director, Responsible

Jewellery Council Catarina Tully, Managing Director,

School of International Futures (SOIF) Peter Harrison, Group Chief Executive, Schroders plc

Keith Anderson, CEO, Scottish Power

Brian Bickell, CEO, Shaftesbury plc

Sinead Lynch, Country Chair UK, Shell UK

Jeff Twentyman, Head of Sustainability, Slaughter and May

Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark

Ben Carpenter, Chief Executive, Social Value UK

Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive, SSE plc

Sara Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce Keith Skeoch, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Life Aberdeen

John Scanlon, CEO, SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK
Nichola Hughes, Director, Sustainable NI

David Kassler, Global CEO, Tag Worldwide Group Ltd

Nick Hampton, Chief Executive Officer, Tate & Lyle PLC

Alex Cresswell, Chief Executive and Chairman, Thales UK

Christopher Davis, International Director of Sustainability, The Body Shop

Andrew Harding, Chief Executive – Management Accounting,

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director, The Equality Trust

Olivia Sibony, COO, The Hot Breakfast

Dr Darren Moorcroft, CEO, The Woodland Trust

Bevis Watts, CEO, Triodos Bank UK

Peter Anderson, Managing Partner, Troup Bywaters + Anders

Luke Wilde, Managing Partner, Founder, twenty fifty Limited

Victoria Page, Co-chair, UKSSD

Dominic White, Co-founder, UKSSD

Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever

Dr Alec Wersun, Chair, United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education UK & Ireland Regional Chapter

Professor Joy Carter CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester

Carole Parkes, Professor of Responsible Management and Leadership, University of Winchester

Angie Pankhania, Acting Executive Director, United Nations Association – UK Claire Barnett, Executive Director, UN Women UK

Kate Cawley, Founder, Veris Strategies

Matthew Moshiri, CEO, Verisk Maplecroft

Rebecca Hall, Managing Consultant Human Rights and CSR Lead, Verisk Maplecroft

Dr Robin Prince, Managing Director, Water Resources East (WRE) Ltd

Mark Read, CEO, WPP

David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability, WSP

Manjula Lee, Founder/CEO, World Wide Generation

Andrew Terry, Director of Conservation & Policy,

ZSL – Zoological Society London

This letter has been coordinated by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development and the UN Global Compact Network UK

UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development

Through collaboration and access to new insights, UKSSD brings organisations together to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals in the UK. UKSSD was launched in April 2016 and has grown to more than 1,000 network members, representing most sectors and industries in the UK, from grass-roots community organisations to multinational business.

UN Global Compact Network UK

We are a member-based organisation and official Local Network, representing UK organisations that are Participants and Signatories of the UN Global Compact. Through an extensive programme of activity, the UK Network supports its members to implement the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles, which cover human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

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