The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is calling for a Minister for Hunger on the publication of its report, Hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in the UK, which continues its scrutiny of the Government’s action on the Sustainable Development Goals in the UK.

The report is the outcome of its follow-up inquiry on the SDGs in the UK and builds on the findings of Measuring up, focusing specifically on the issue of hunger and SDG2 in the UK. In conclusion the committee reports that:

  • Food insecurity is significant and growing in the UK, with levels among the worst in Europe, especially for children
  • The Government has failed to recognise and respond domestically – and has allowed these issues to ‘fall between the cracks’
  • The Government’s obesity strategy is silent on food insecurity
  • A Minister for Hunger should be appointed to ensure cross-departmental action

The second half of the report reviews the Government’s broader progress against the domestic implementation of the SDGs. It concludes that ‘in their present format, Single Departmental Plans are wholly inadequate as a means of delivering the SDGs’. It reiterates ‘that Government should do everything it can to support partners (government agencies, local government, civil society, business and the public) to contribute towards delivering the Goals.’

During the committee evidence sessions the Chair of the EAC, Mary Creagh MP, repeatedly asked Ministers why a Minister has not been allocated responsibility for the implementation of the SDGs so they can be held to account for them. While the report itself does not go as far as to recommend that a Minister for the SDGs is appointed, it does stipulate that Cabinet Office should ensure that no target is left behind and facilitate cross-departmental working.

As well as supporting the need for stakeholder engagement in the UK Government’s process for developing its Voluntary National Review (VNR), the report specifically recommends that the Government must take the VNR to Parliament for scrutiny before it is submitted to the UN.

Reflecting on the publication of the report, Dominic White UKSSD’s Co-chair and Head of Sustainable Development Policy at WWF says:

‘We welcome the report from the Environmental Audit Committee, and are pleased it builds on the findings of Measuring Up, prepared by over 100 organisations across the UK. The interrogation of Sustainable Development Goal 2, and specifically hunger, in the UK has shown how important the Goals are for understanding the depth of the challenges we face. The Goals provide us with an opportunity for better joined-up and coherent policymaking and action.’

The evidence and findings from Measuring up appear across the report, which shows how UKSSD and its Partners’ collective efforts continue to have an impact on the Government’s and Parliament’s engagement with this agenda.