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 publishes progress report

12 March 2002


On the day when the UK Government published its latest progress report on sustainable development, the Sustainable Development Commission released its own paper, assessing UK performance across a range of sectors and topics.

The Government's report provides the latest data available on 15 key indicators of performance against sustainable development objectives. The trends reported remain broadly the same as last year, raising warning flags in key areas such as road transport, land use, and waste.

Although the commitment to publish data is worthwhile, the Commission would like to see more evidence that these indicators are being used to drive policies, rather than to report on them.

In its own paper for the Environmental Audit Committee, published today, the Commission welcomes the many worthwhile initiatives taken by the UK government to promote sustainable development both within and outside government. However, its overall conclusion is that the UK is as yet nowhere near the kind of structural and policy changes that will need to be made to the economy and to society to deliver sustainable outcomes.

Commenting on the Government's report, Commission Chairman Jonathon Porritt said:

'It is helpful to have regular reports on performance against a range of sustainable development indicators. This is a welcome commitment to transparency by the Government. But, with long term problems like climate change and waste production, it is difficult for a single year's data to show the bigger picture'.

'In our analysis, the Commission takes a step back from the detailed performance data and assesses the adequacy of programmes and policies to deliver sustainability in the UK. What we see is a very mixed picture. While there has undoubtedly been real progress on the social justice agenda, many major challenges remain untackled.

'These are serious problems requiring bold solutions - incremental progress based on a business as usual approach simply won't do the job'

'Our report also urges a re-invigoration of governance at all levels - people everywhere need to be engaged, empowered and inspired if the UK is to have any chance of achieving sustainable development'.

Notes to Editors

Over the year since the last annual report by the Government, the Commission published two significant reports, A vision for sustainable agriculture and Forging an energy policy for sustainable development. Other work covered the company law review, aviation policy and the EU sustainable development strategy.

The Commission's work programme for the next six months includes:

- an audit of UK policies for tackling climate change;
- a project exploring the sustainability of food procurement in the NHS;
- work with RDAs on embedding a sustainable development agenda into regional strategies
- research on sustainable planning policies
- publication of a best practice guide to the development of sectoral sustainability strategies by
trade associations and similar organisations.

Established in October 2000, the Sustainable Development Commission is an advisory nondepartmental public body, sponsored by the Cabinet Office and reporting to the Prime Minister and the leaders of the devolved administrations. The Commission's objectives include advocating a compelling vision of a sustainable economy and society and reviewing how far sustainable development is being achieved in the UK across all sectors.

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