Cllr Joseph Corry-Roake is a councillor in Clapham Common ward.
This pandemic has stretched everyone to their limits, including the many organisations that try to keep us safe. It has emphasised how heavily intertwined we all are. We know that allowing the virus to continue in one part of the country, or world, will lead to future coronavirus waves and that our families will not be safe until everyone is safe.
Whether we are living here in Lambeth or anywhere else in the world we have similar priorities in this difficult time; trying to get tests for COVID-19, keep a roof over our heads, ensure our children can get an education and support businesses to survive and thrive.
We also need to work together to overcome the many other local and global challenges we are facing today including the climate crisis and rising inequality.
So how can we create a system to tackle these together rather than in isolation?
Five years ago, the UK came together with the international community to set a series of 17 goals with concrete, measurable targets designed to tackle complex, interconnected challenges such as poverty and the climate crisis. These were called the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and are a blueprint for a safer, fairer and better world. As universal goals, these require all of us, from heads of state to individual actors, to play our part to achieve them by 2030.
A core principle running through the SDGs is the idea of ‘Leave No One Behind’. Having seen the way the pandemic has disproportionately hit the most vulnerable, we should be determined not just to rebuild, but to rebuild with those most marginalised or excluded at the forefront of our efforts.
Despite the government committing themselves to the SDGs 5 years ago the UK is not on course to meet them. The UK government’s actions to achieve them both at home and abroad have been lukewarm at best. As with so many other areas, if the national government aren’t going to step up, then local actors, such as councils and local community groups, will have to.
With 10 years to go, Councils are beginning to engage with the SDGs to see how they fit with their specific local context. To support that work the Local Government Association has created a series of practical proposals which take into account the financial hardship councils of all stripes are facing given the scale of the challenge inflicted by this pandemic and chronic underfunding by central government.
Vital to both understand and enact the change we need are the local groups that enrich our borough. Over the last 6 months we have seen established groups and networks joined by new ones band together and support one another and our vulnerable residents. The local knowledge and expertise that actors in Lambeth, of different sizes and reach have, will be crucial to drive the action needed for us to deliver the Goals.
Now, as we start to consider how we can drive a sustainable recovery which meets the needs and desires of our local communities, businesses and residents, the SDGs can provide a template.
Using the SDGs as a guide and a target can ensure that the rebuilding process is done in a way that creates the opportunities and structures to rebuild the economy and our borough in a way that is fair and safer for people and our planet.
This motion is a start. It is a chance to commit Lambeth to the SDGs, to demonstrate our internationalist values and to point to a positive vision for the future with practical steps so that we can all play our part to get there.
Cllr Joseph Corry-Roake