These are difficult times for multinational institutions. The very purpose of the European Union, United Nations, Nato and others is being scrutinised like never before.
Some people are questioning whether the international order, based on shared values and rules, and which these institutions are tasked and credited with upholding, is working for them or even if it needs to.
It is within this context, and particularly in times of austerity, that I want to remind members of the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), not least in a post-Brexit world, and why ICAEW supports them.
Sustainable Development Goals
The 17 SDGs, set in 2015, speak directly to many of the concerns that have come to the fore during recent elections and referendums, and which have continued to dominate the political scene.
Issues such as poverty, housing, job insecurity and gender inequality have caused anger and resentment, but are precisely the intractable global problems the SDGs were set to address. Across the world, leaders are being asked to create systems that bring equity and fairness in a way that can be sustained from one generation to the next.
This is why we think that Britain should place the SDGs at the heart of its Brexit strategy. The goals offer a unique opportunity to unite and galvanise support for a positive vision of the UK and create the foundations for future prosperity. These commitments must not be seen as a burden, but as a way of addressing some of the most urgent issues we face.
In recent months we have worked with more than 140 organisations to review the progress the UK has made towards meeting the SDGs. While there is some good news, much work remains to be done. This should come as little surprise; many of us will acknowledge that too many of our neighbours live in poverty, lack decent housing and are struggling to meet basic living costs.
We all want to do what we can to put things right, and in our own small way we are making a positive contribution towards the SDGs. Our review shows that the UK is performing well on about one in four of the targets set by the UN. Working together we can be confident of making strong progress and deliver on promises of fairness and equality after we leave the European Union.
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Thank you Michael. If we must go (and I continue to think there is no reason we must) then tying our future to the SDGs is both noble and in our best interests. Prosperity for nations, not just my nation and not just a few in my nation is a future we should all aim for even if we think it will be hard or aren't sure how to get there.