Sustainable Development Goals

We support the ambitions of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals.

The vision of the Global Goals international action plan is to set out a positive vision for the future - to tackle poverty and inequality and promote sustainable development across the world.  There are 17 Global Goals which form the basis of a global partnership for sustainable development.

Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to sign up to adopting the Global Goals in 2015.  More than 190 countries have now signed up to the vision to end poverty, hunger, inequality and to protect the environment.

Having recognised the strategic importance of the Global Goals to our work, in particular with young people, we seek to play an active role in supporting the targets of all 17 Global Goals.

  • We acknowledge that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out a far-reaching collection of goals, provides an ambitious framework and a shared global vision for collective action towards sustainable development for us all.
  • We recognise the 2030 Agenda integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental; and that the Global Goals and their targets are interlinked and indivisible.
  • We believe that intergenerational learning and educating people so that they understand sustainable development is critical to protect future generations.
  • Linking to the Global Goals, all our work encourages people to live more sustainably by taking action to support a more sustainable world.
  • We have, and will continue to, evidence our achievements against the Global Goals.


Our Work

  • Sustainable development is at the heart of our vision, mission and strategic objectives. In aligning our work to the Global Goals, we have a clear view on how we contribute to, support, and promote understanding of, and engagement with, sustainable development.
  • We are committed to evidencing and demonstrating how our activities contribute to the Global Goals.
  • Through our own internal policies and procedures, we are committed to implementing the sustainable development agenda.
  • We are committed to supporting action and encouraging behavior change on sustainable development through our work in communities across Scotland.
  • We play an active role in the implementation of the Scottish sustainable development agenda through our work on sustainability and climate change, local environmental quality, sustainable development education, and food and the environment.
  • Through our work to support the UN’s 2030 Agenda and with the Foundation for Environmental Excellence (FEE), and links through FEE to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and the European Litter Prevention Association, we will play an active role in the implementation of the international sustainable development agenda.
  • We collaborate with, and support, national and local government, the private sector, communities and citizens to enable action on sustainable development.

Across our own activities we have identified where we have the biggest potential to contribute to the 17 Global Goals and their 169 targets. We have identified:

  • Six goals which we strongly evidence contribution to.
  • A further six goals which we can evidence a smaller contribution to.
  • Two goals which we don’t contribute to yet, but hope to be able to in the future.
  • Three goals which we feel we do not actively contribute to.

Our international activity and connections give us the ability to reach a wide ranging audience and we believe it is important for us to demonstrate that our activities contribute to the Global Goals.  Going forward we will collate evidence from our activities which demonstrate our support.

The goals we contribute the most to are:

Quality Education

We provide a range of education initiatives for children, young people and educators.

As we work to realise the vision of our world in 2030, young people, who will mature in the next 15 years, will play an absolutely crucial part.  This is why our Eco-Schools Scotland programme has been refreshed and aligned to the Global Goals. Further information on this can be found on the sustainable development education area of our website.           

Decent Work and Economic Growth

We promote full and productive employment and decent work for all.

For example, through our Young Food Entrepreneurs project we have supported young people to explore food, sustainability and enterprise.   We believe that young people with passion, skills, knowledge and experience will be at the heart of a developing food industry and this project develops pathways and opportunities for young people to develop such attributes.

And, through our own policies we ensure that we support volunteers, interns and employees equally.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

We support the private and public sectors, communities and individuals across Scotland to help create and maintain cleaner, safer and more sustainable local environments. Our activities range from projects encouraging biodiversity, to promoting sustainable food growing to helping communities reduce carbon emissions and improve local environmental quality.

For example, during 2015/16 we supported and recognized 148 community groups through our It’s Your Neighbourhood campaign as they worked to improve and enhance their local environments.  We also audited more than 120 beaches and parks and awarded them for their excellent environmental management.  And, we supported a number of housing associations to identify issues on their sites and provide information to support them to take action with their tenants.

Responsible Consumption and Production

Across our Sustainable Development Education and Sustainability and Climate Change themes we undertake a range of activities to actively promote a reduction in consumption; encouraging the reuse of items, extending the life of everyday items through repair and maintenance support and encouraging the recycling of materials.

For example, in 2016, in partnership with the University of Glasgow, we were the Scottish delivery partner for the development education and awareness raising food waste project “Don’t Waste Our Future”. This project involved approximately 80 primary and secondary schools, 2800 students, 160 teachers and 40 municipalities across seven European countries.

Through our work supporting communities in receipt of a Climate Challenge Fund grant we have helped them to take action on climate change by recycling 27,000 tonnes of waste.

Climate Action   

We work with organisations and communities to help people to reduce their carbon emissions, to improve local areas and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

For example, we have developed Scotland’s first accredited Carbon Literacy training course, in partnership with the Carbon Literacy Project, enabling 83 people over the last year to build confidence and identify opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.

We also manage and administer the Climate Challenge Fund a Scottish Government grant programme.  Through this we provide support, resources and training and organise events to support community groups taking action on climate change.  Since the Climate Challenge Fund was introduced in 2008, 622 communities across Scotland have been awarded grants totalling £85.8 million to run community-led projects that reduce local carbon emissions, improve their local areas and help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Partnerships for the Goals

We strive to maintain effective relationships with communities and organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

For example, we facilitate several networks to support action, build on the experiences of others and to support the development of strategic partnerships.   We run Scotland’s Local Environmental Quality Network, a forum for beach managers, another for park managers and a number to support communities taking action to improve Scotland’s environment. 

We also play an active role attending and contributing to other networks across Scotland and Europe.  These include the Food Coalition, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and the Clean Europe Network and Foundation of Environmental Education.  We are a member of Learning for Sustainability Scotland and have recently joined UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development as a partner.

The outcomes of our charitable activities also contribute to six further goals, including:

We acknowledge that we are starting, and will continue in the future, to evidence our support of two further goals, Zero Hunger and Good Health and Wellbeing.

Currently the outcomes from our charitable activities do not actively contribute to the indicators of three goals.  These are No Poverty, Gender Equality and Reduced Inequalities.

Our Asks

Leadership and strategic priority

  • We believe that clear, consistent and visible leadership on sustainable development is needed across all sectors and organisations in Scotland. Leaders in business, public bodies and the third sector need to demonstrate commitment and action towards sustainable development.
  • We call for organisations across all sectors to integrate sustainable development, by using the Global Goals as a framework, when setting their aims and objectives.
  • We urge the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to progress and report on the sustainable development agenda.
  • We urge the Scottish and UK Governments to recognise that ‘joined-up’ government is essential to taking forward the sustainable development agenda. Domestic and international responses cannot work in isolation.

Partnership working and collaboration

  • We ask for more strategic, integrated and coordinated action across sectors to transform development towards sustainability.

Legislation and regulation

  • We encourage the Scottish Government to ensure that all existing policy and legislation makes a positive contribution to sustainable development.
  • We believe sustainable development needs to be included as a strategic factor which frames and informs all new policy and legislation agreed by the Scottish Parliament.

Reporting, scrutiny and accountability

  • We encourage the Scottish Government, government agencies and other organisations to report outcomes and achievements against the Global Goals and their indicators so as to support UK reporting through the Office for National Statistics to the United Nations on achievements.
  • We encourage proper scrutiny of progress towards the Global Goals by the Scottish Government through the revised National Performance Framework and Scottish National Action Plan on Human Rights.

Engagement and awareness raising

  • We urge everyone to make the language of sustainable development more relevant so that people can make changes to their behaviour and take simple actions to live more sustainably.

We believe that all sectors in Scotland, national and local government, the private sector, communities our education networks, and third sector organisations need to work together over the next 15 years, to help realise the global ambition of the goals. 

We look forward to working with others to ensure we all play our part.

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