Bristol and the Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were ratified by the UN’s member nations. But who’s going to take responsibility for making sure we achieve them?

The challenge

Getting 193 member nations to agree on and sign up to pursuing a set of ambitious targets that address worldwide issues of sustainable development was a landmark achievement. But what the SDGs don’t do is prescribe how countries should go about turning that ambition into reality.

These transformative Goals require action at all levels, from the international to the hyperlocal. Traditionally, national governments have been responsible for creating all activity and policy to support global agreements such as this. But some commentators now argue that governments are struggling to resolve the most complex, unwieldy challenges and that the role of cities and citizens is on the rise.

Consequently, many city leaders are now asking how we can usefully translate this critical global agenda into local practice in a way that meaningfully transforms lives.

What we’re doing

The Sustainable Development Goals aren’t just about the environment. They’re also about building a prosperous and inclusive economy that leaves no one behind. Inclusion, equality and opportunity are essential components of sustainability.

So in a large and diverse city like Bristol, with both established green credentials and complex social challenges, achieving the Goals means local stakeholders need to work in partnership – and we’re determined to play our part in facilitating that.

In July 2019, the Cabot Institute for the Environment at the University of Bristol launched the United Kingdom’s first Voluntary Local Review (VLR) of SDG progress in partnership with the Bristol City Office. The report reflects a whole city approach to tackling the SDGs and includes information on the activities of 90 Bristol based organisations working to make the city more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. The VLR reviews progress on all 17 SDGs and includes data on over 140 indicators.

How it helps

The power of the SDGs is that they work across all levels of government – local, national and global, for all nations around the world and across sectors – private, academic and voluntary. They create a common language so that institutions, cities and governments can communicate their ambition and progress. Our report makes Bristol a part of that global conversation, and show how we can achieve these goals together.

Sean Fox Lead researcher profile

Dr Sean Fox, Senior Lecturer in Global Development

Download the Bristol Voluntary Local Review 2019 report

Bristol Voluntary Local Review 2019 (PDF, 4,508kB)

or try Bristol Voluntary Local Review 2019 (PDF, 4,508kB)

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