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Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals

Scotland was one of the first signatories to the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, and forms one of the 193 UN Member States signed up to the vision to end poverty, hunger, inequality and to protect the environment. The Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, are also referred to as the Global Goals.

We play an active role in the implementation of the Scottish sustainable development agenda through our work to combat climate change, tackle litter and waste, restore nature and biodiversity, and protect places.

Sustainable development is at the heart of our vision, mission, and strategic objectives, and in aligning our work to the SDGs, 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 SDGs and the wider sustainability agenda and have fully aligned our activities across the 17 SDGs and their 169 targets. We have identified 10 goals that we can strongly evidence contribution to.

Keep Scotland Beautiful support the ambitions of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 and provides a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their related 169 targets, which are an urgent call for action by all countries in global partnership.

The purpose of the international action plan is to set out a positive vision for the future - to tackle poverty and inequality, and to promote sustainable development across the world. The goals seek to address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

We believe that all across Scotland – be that national and local government, the private sector, communities and individuals, the education sector, and third sector organisations – must work together to help realise the global ambition for peace and prosperity for people and the planet – now and into the future.  We look forward to working with others to ensure that we all play our part.

Our latest Impact Report celebrates the work we do and highlights our contribution to progressing the Sustainable Development Goals.

The work that we do through our activities, projects, programmes and initiatives contributes across 10 of the 17 SDGs. Our contribution to the SDGs is outlined below:

Quality Education

Goal 4 is about ensuring inclusive and fair quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for everyone. We provide a range of education initiatives for children, young people and educators as well as opportunities for lifelong learning – contributing directly to two targets.

Our Climate Action Schools framework, Eco-Schools programme and wider education work support two of the targets – one about developing skills for success and another about providing sustainable development education and global citizenship skills.

In addition to our formal education work, we offer a range of opportunities for learning including Climate Emergency Training, teacher professional learning, LEQ Training, Citizen Science, volunteer training for our wider network, and through our internal policies and practices.      

Gender Equality

Goal 5 sets out to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Our internal policies and practices contribute to progressing the goal through ensuring full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership across our organisation.

Clean Water and Sanitation

Goal 6 focuses on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation. Through our work, we support the target to improve water quality, waste water treatment and safe reuse.

Our My Beach, Your Beach campaign aims to raise awareness of the polluting impact on water from dog fouling, or from gulls which are encouraged by feeding and leaving litter.

A number of further activities and projects contribute to the goal including Clean Up Scotland activities, the LEAMS programme, Climate Action Schools, our award-winning Upstream Battle® campaign and Scotland’s Beach Awards.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

We promote full and productive employment and decent work for all – a key aim of Goal 8, through our work we contribute directly to four of Goal 8’s targets.

Our Canal College® programme is helping people across Scotland learn the skills and build the confidence they need to unlock their full potential. The work we coordinate across the Highlands of Scotland also contributes to improving resource efficiency in consumption and production.

We support sustainable tourism through a number of our activities including the National Award for Environmental Excellence®, Green Key®, and Climate Emergency Training for Tourism.

Through our own internal policies and practices, we ensure that we support volunteers, interns and employees alike.

We are supportive of the Just Transition to Net Zero, working for a fairer, greener future for all across Scotland. Our research and advocacy work seeks to influence local, national and regional policy-making in Scotland to promote the just transition, but also to encourage thinking on the wellbeing economy and growth beyond GDP.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Making cities and communities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable is the key ambition of Goal 11. Our work meets two of the targets for this goal – protecting the world’s natural and cultural heritage and providing access to safe and inclusive green and public spaces.

We support communities and individuals across Scotland, along with the private and public sectors, to help create and maintain cleaner, safer and more sustainable local environments.

Our activities cover a full spectrum of topics including projects that: encourage biodiversity restoration; promote sustainable food growing; help communities take action on climate change and tackle waste;  improve local environmental quality; and enhance and protect our built and natural heritage.

Responsible Consumption and Production

This goal focuses on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. Our work supports 5 out of the 11 targets. The targets focus on issues such as sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources, reducing waste generation, and encouraging companies to adopt sustainable practices.

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. Our work across the Highlands is actively tackling these issues through the Highland Community Waste Partnership along with the Cup Movement® campaign in the Highlands.

Our research and advocacy work seeks to influence the uptake of circular principles across local, national and regional policy-making in Scotland.

Climate Action   

Goal 13 requires that urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts is taken. A significant part of our work supports one of the targets for this goal – building knowledge and capacity to mitigate, adapt and reduce the impact of climate change. 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. Our research and advocacy work seeks to influence national and regional policy-making in Scotland, with the aim of strengthening commitments to combat climate change and encouraging climate justice.

We are the strategic partner in Scotland for the Carbon Literacy Project, and together have been delivering training since 2016. Our Climate Emergency Training enables people to build confidence and identify opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.

In 2019 we launched Climate Ready Classrooms to help prepare young people to join a national network of carbon literate ambassadors who plan and act on climate change issues within their own schools and communities.  And in 2022 we announced our Climate Action Schools framework to better support educators and young people understand climate change and how to take action.

Between 2008 and 2021 we managed and administered the Climate Challenge Fund on behalf of Scottish Government.

Life Below Water

How we conserve and sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development is the objective of Goal 14.

Upstream Battle, our innovative, award-winning campaign to tackle marine litter at source contributes to the target of reducing marine pollution.

Through Scotland’s Beach Awards are the benchmark for quality, celebrating clean, well-managed and sustainable beaches. Award-winning beaches demonstrate excellent beach management and environmental best practice along with the maintenance of high standards.

Life on Land

Goal 15 sets out to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

A number of our activities and projects support work towards the goal including the Green Flag Award® for parks scheme; the Learning About Forests initiative as part of our Climate Action Schools framework; our Climate and Nature Friendly Communities Network initiative, which includes It’s Your Neighbourhood and Beautiful Scotland, and our Climate Emergency Training for Biodiversity and Nature.

In addition, our environmental services for businesses and organisations contributes to improving local environmental conditions including National Award for Environmental Excellence®, Green Key®, delivery of Corporate Social Responsibility activities, and wider environmental assessments.

Partnerships for the Goals

For the SDGs to be successful, partnership and working together is a key part of the process. We strive to maintain effective relationships with communities and organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors, both here in Scotland and further afield.

Our work forms part of collaborative and partnership working in Scotland towards progressing the ambitions of the SDGs. We play an active partnership role through attending and contributing to other networks across Scotland and Europe.  These networks include the SDG Scotland Network, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, Scottish Environment Link, Foundation of Environmental Education.

In addition to these networks, we work closely with other bodies including Scottish Government, Local Authorities and other public duty bodies such as Scottish Environment Protection Agency and NatureScot to support and drive sustainability and environmental improvement across Scotland.

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