We are the UK Government’s independent adviser on sustainable development. Through advocacy, advice and
appraisal, we help put sustainable development at the heart of Government policy

SDC Wales’ First Sustainable Development in Government Assessment

18 December 2009

Report shows varied progress in the Welsh Assembly Government Estate


One Wales One Planet, the Welsh Assembly Government’s new sustainable development scheme, requires the Sustainable Development Commission to assess and report on the Welsh Assembly Government’s operations across its administrative estate. Our Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) assessment is based on the data submitted by the Welsh Assembly Government under its Green Dragon environmental management system and provides an overview of how well government is performing in areas such as emissions from buildings and travel, water consumption and waste.

Our assessment covers the financial year 2008/9, with the Welsh Assembly Government graded according to actual performance in key areas. The Welsh Assembly Government operates an environmental management system that is equivalent to ISO 14001, and while the overall standard is comparable with that used by the UK Government, like-for-like comparison between individual targets on the whole cannot be made.

In 2010 The Sustainable Development Commission will also produce a broader review of the overall standing of sustainability in government’s operations, building on the findings of this assessment and making recommendations.

This SDiG assessment, the subsequent report, and our independent commentary of the Welsh Assembly Government’s annual report on progress made against its sustainable development scheme form our independent assessment function as a Commission.

Findings of the First Welsh SDiG Assessment

Our assessment of the Welsh Assembly Government’s performance against Green Dragon targets is summarised in the following table.

        Carbon emissions from offices and business travel
         Carbon emissions from road vehicles
           Waste arisings
  Water consumption
  Water consumption (new builds or major refurbs)
  Electricity sourced from renewables

Our assessment of the Welsh Assembly Government’s performance in using key mechanisms to deliver sustainability is summarised in the following table.

  Sustainability Appraisals
  Environmental Management Systems
  Carbon Trust Committment


    Very good 
  Some progress
  Not applicable



  • The Welsh Assembly Government met its 2010 target to reduce waste arising by 5% (relative to 2006/7) early, achieving a 5.4% reduction in this reporting year (2008/9)
  • The Welsh Assembly Government is very likely to out-perform the pan-UK Government’s performance on recycling. and has achieved a recycling rate of 59% of waste arising (relative to 2006/7) 
  • 85% of electricity supply contracts are now green tariff providing 73% of electricity consumed in all offices.


  • While the increase in carbon dioxide emissions from buildings has been reversed, and overall carbon dioxide emissions from the Welsh Assembly Government’s administrative estate are decreasing (down 4% in this reporting year, compared to the previous year), emissions from road vehicles used for Welsh Assembly Government business increased by 1.4% (2008/9 compared to 2007/8)
  • The scale of the decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in this reporting year represents insufficient progress if the Welsh Assembly Government is to meet its target of a 30% reduction in emissions by December 2010 (based on a 2006/7 baseline)
  • Water consumption on the Welsh Assembly Government’s administrative estate is increasing overall despite a reduction in the consumption of water in the largest building on the estate (Cathays Park).

SDC Response

Our first SDIG report reveals mixed progress from the Welsh Assembly Government. We are pleased with the reduction of waste and that more electricity is being sourced from ‘green’ tariffs. However, we are concerned with the lack of progress in some areas, such as water consumption and transport emissions.

The fact that this assessment has taken place is in itself an important step towards making improvements and we are glad that the Commission has adopted this new role in monitoring performance in Wales.

Further information

» Download the First Welsh SDiG Report

» The Welsh Assembly Government’s Green Dragon Standard outlines the targets and performance in more detail

» The SDC’s UK Government SDiG page outlines the targets and performance of the UK Government in more detail

< Back