Daniel Ferrell-Schweppenstedde

Former Policy and Public Affairs Manager

Charities Aid Foundation

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Voluntary National Review progress towards Sustainable Development Goals

UK government urged to invest more into local infrastructure for civil society

4 July 2019

We welcome the UK’s first Voluntary National Review taking stock of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since their adoption in 2015. Based on the work from government departments and the devolved administrations, we also see the additional input from 380 organisations from civil society and the private sector, as well as individuals, as crucial for the review.

The voluntary nature of the review shows the Government’s commitment to achieving the SDGs. The Bond network with the help of a range of civil society organisations has conducted its own analysis of the UK’s global contribution to the SDGs. It states that ‘across a range of areas, the UK government is not doing nearly enough to transfer its commitments on leave no one behind into policy or put them into practice’.

Michael Mapstone, our Director of International says: “We are delighted to see that the Government’s review recognises the role of civil society in playing an active role in shaping, communicating and implementing the SDGs. However we feel it would benefit from a further commitment of government and funders to invest in civil society infrastructure that supports the growth and effectiveness of domestic based CSOs. CAF is a partner of the CAF Global Alliance, an international network of local-led organisations in 9 countries working to grow giving and civic engagement and strengthening civil society globally.  We see the support for local infrastructure and the development of a culture of local giving as a crucial element to achieving the SDGs.”

The UK should be a leader

CSOs are facing  significant structural challenges such as financial instability, an over reliance on foreign funding and a shrinking civic space in many countries. This adversely impacts civil society’s ability to effectively address local, social and development needs. The UK should be a leader in tackling the shrinking civic space internationally. The Government’s review highlights that ‘A healthy, independent and influential civil society is a hallmark of a thriving democracy’ and we believe that supporting the growth of mass giving in these countries is key to holding government’s to account.

We have a one-off opportunity to build on a global culture of giving. Up to 2.4 billion people could enter the middle classes globally by 2030. Their spending could almost double from $34 trillion to $64 trillion over the same period. This is the greatest transition from poverty to relative affluence in history. If this new aspirant middle class were to dedicate just 0.5% of their spending to charitable causes it would generate $319 billion a year in funds for CSOs.

We believe building mass engagement in giving has the potential to transform transition planning, promoting a locally led, sustainable civil society that helps development reach the world’s poorest, and to sustain a positive legacy for UK Aid. For this reason we feel the Government’s efforts to support civil society in achieving the SDGs would benefit from reflecting on the opportunity to maximise the potential of local resource mobilisation for civil society.

Building an inclusive culture of giving locally will not only help to resource the delivery of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), it will help ensure that the public are engaged in the process, provide an accountability mechanism and help to deliver on Goal 16: “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.”

Learn more about our Groundwork for Growing Giving campaign here.

We’d love to hear your comments on the Review and role of the SDGs, so please do get in touch with our team at campaigns@cafonline.org