In 2018 the UN Global Compact Network UK ran its second Sustainable Development Goal roadshow in 11 UK cities.  In this blog Marc Robin, Global Goals Programme Manager, shares their lessons on local business engagement.

Recognising that awareness of the SDGs across the UK was quite low, in 2017 we set ourselves the challenge of engaging the UK business community in this critical agenda. Last year, we repeated this through a very popular Sustainable Development Goals Roadshow 2018, comprising of a series of Making Global Goals Local Business events around the UK.

We visited 11 cities across the UK including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and London. There are three lessons that the 2018 Roadshow events taught us about why local action is essential if we are to achieve the SDGs.

There is a growing momentum around the UK but more effort is needed to make the SDGs day-to-day business

Through the registration process and at each city event, we collected data on the current level of awareness of the Goals in the UK and the potential for business engagement across the country. Although the majority of registrants were knowledgeable about the SDGs, almost one in five registrants were not. The Roadshow was not just preaching to the choir.

In general, over half of the organisations reported being quite serious about the SDGs. Equally, the results reinforced that there is still much to be done in mobilising those that aren't yet seriously engaged in the SDGs.

There is local interest to learn more about the SDGs

The 2018 Roadshow had significantly higher participation than the 2017 edition, with 604 people attending across the 11 events. Our event registration pages were viewed over 8000 times, demonstrating the peaked interest of people nationally.

The impact of the events also continues, such as the stakeholder meeting held in Belfast after the roadshow about local implementation.

There are local priorities

We also collected data from participants on the SDGs they would prioritise.

We’ve compiled all the city-level results to provide a country-level estimation. According to the SDG Roadshow 2018 participants from the private sector their top SDG priorities should be SDG12 on sustainable consumption and production, SDG8 on decent work and economic growth, and SDG13 on climate action. Perhaps obviously, priorities were different across the 11 cities, with participants in Manchester focusing on SDG1 on poverty, whereas in Edinburgh it was SDG12.       

UNGC graph

UN Global Compact graph of private sector priorities 

Marc Robin is Global Goals Programme Manager at UN Global Compact UK Network. To find out more about the SDG roadshow visit its website.