Measuring up

Regular readers of my blog will be familiar with ICAEW’s support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Today, businesses are expected to look beyond profit and to have a wider social purpose; they have a moral duty to identify and address social and environmental issues that make a real difference to people’s everyday lives.

Explicitly, the SDGs articulate these issues, providing a narrative of what the global public wants the world to achieve by 2030 – but they are also in themselves a framework through which governments and businesses can ensure that they are pursuing the long-term public interest.

Voluntary National Review

All member states who have adopted the SDGs are expected to produce and present a Voluntary National Review (VNR) – a review of their own national progress towards the goals. VNRs are underpinned by data from across government, civil society and the private sector, and serve as a vital tool in holding individual countries to account.

It’s crucial that governments take a holistic approach, working across and between all their departments and collaboratively with other bodies. There’s a need for sustainability to be considered across all government policy – meaning that legislation across all briefs and pertaining to all sectors must remain consistent with the drive towards achieving the SDGs.

The UK is due to present its VNR in July at the High Level Political Forum, and the Government is asking for input from stakeholders to ensure it is as inclusive as possible.

If you or your organisation are working to help achieve the SDGs in the UK, please visit this page and contribute to the information-gathering process.


ICAEW is proud to be part of the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) – a national network of organisations established to drive action on the SDGs. The group shares knowledge, uses a collective voice to influence behaviour, and seeks to inspire others. It is the first such stakeholder group in the world.

We are one of only nine organisations who make up the UKSSD Steering Group, ensuring that the Group’s activities are managed well and achieve its objectives

Last year, UKSSD published ‘Measuring Up’ – a research document summarising the UK’s performance against the SDG targets. We co-sponsored the chapter on ‘decent work and economic growth’ – examining progress towards promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. I believe that UKSSD is a powerful way of holding government to account and its work will only continue to become more important as we head towards 2030.

The public interest

Strong economies are rooted in behaviours that are responsible, ethical and inclusive – and so in seeking to build a World of Strong Economies, our profession can and must help businesses to embed sustainability at the heart of their strategies.

Doing so will benefit everyone – and perhaps regain some much-needed trust.

Please follow me on Twitter @MichaelIzza.

  • Great blog - really great to see this focus and it does make me question whether we are really measuring the right things. Actually, I think it's clear that we're not! And to cap that a friend who is a pilot tells me the UK doesn't count flights in its emissions figures...!