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Regions Need Urgent Reform to Deliver on Climate Change, Environmental and Social Commitments

24 November 2005

Contact: Hazel Dempster, Press at SDC, 020 7238 6606 / 07790 119 215

Regional institutions need structural changes in order to take action on climate change and put environmental and social impacts at the heart of decision-making, according to a review published today by the Sustainable Development Commission.

The review, 'The Next Steps - an Independent Review of Sustainable Development in the English Regions', finds that a lack of joined-up thinking, conflicting government strategies and poor leadership mean that the regions are not delivering on sustainable development. The report recommends that:

- All Regional Development Agencies and Government Offices should take immediate action on climate change with a package of new measures, including signing up to the Carbon Trust's carbon management programme to improve their energy efficiency and committing to 10% low carbon vehicles by 2012.

- Government Offices should ensure that delivery of the national sustainable development strategy is no longer a small strand of rural policy, but their primary aim. All Regional Directors would then have to report on this new aim.

- Regional Development Agencies and Regional Assemblies should develop a proper accountability structure for sustainable development, to ensure that environmental and social issues are tackled at management board level.

- The current sustainable development roundtables should be transformed into stronger, well-resourced, independent Champion bodies, which would both advise on and assess regional performance on sustainable development.

Jonathon Porritt, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, says: 'With serious strategic responsibilities and hefty spending power - RDAs alone spend over £1.8 billion a year - the regions have a vital role to play in delivering sustainable development. So business as usual is not an option: instead of adding to the current glut of government strategies, we need clear-cut structural changes that put social and environmental concerns at the absolute core of the regions.'

For a free copy of 'The Next Steps - an Independent Review of Sustainable Development in the English Regions', visit Publications - The Next Step


Notes to Eds:

- In the UK Government Sustainable Development Strategy, Securing the Future, published in March this year, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) and the UK Government agreed that the SDC should undertake a review of sustainable development in the English regions.

- In producing 'The Next Steps', the SDC undertook an extensive literature review, carried out scoping questionnaires with relevant regional bodies and conducted interviews with 43 people in all the major regional institutions - RDAs, RAs, GOs, practitioners from public sector, including health, as well as representatives from Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

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