Memorandum submitted by the Cabinet Office
ENQUIRY INTO UK PREPARATIONS FOR THE WORLD
SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (WSSD): THE ROLE OF THE DEPUTY
PRIME MINISTER AND THE CABINET OFFICE
1. As requested in the Chairman's letter
of 6 February to the Deputy Prime Minister, this Memorandum provides
information on the input that the Cabinet Office has made towards
preparations for WSSD.
As explained in the Memorandum which the Cabinet
Office submitted on 26 November 2001 for the Committee's inquiry
into departmental responsibilities for sustainable development
(Annex 1), the Prime Minister has asked the Deputy Prime Minister
to take on a key role in preparations for WSSD. The intention
is to raise the profile of the Summit with world leaders and to
encourage them to attend, thus reinforcing the Prime Minister's
early commitment to be present and sending a clear signal to all
stakeholders of the political importance the Government attaches
to a successful outcome to WSSD. The Prime Minister has also asked
the Deputy Prime Minister to chair a Cabinet Ministerial Group
(MISC 18) to oversee the UK's preparations for the Summit.
As noted in the earlier Memorandum, the lead
department for sustainable development is DEFRA, which has policy
responsibility and deals with day-to-day progress and implementation
of the UK's policies. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
works closely with DEFRA and with all other departments with a
key interest on strategic and cross-departmental issues.
2. The membership and terms of reference
of the Ministerial Committee for WSSD (MISC 18) are attached at
Annex 2. A list of the world leaders whom the Deputy Prime Minister
has met since the establishment of MISC 18 is attached at Annex
3. The Deputy Prime Minister takes the opportunity at all of his
international meetings to emphasise the importance of WSSD.
3. The following material answers the specific
questions in the chairman's letter of 6 February.
QUESTION 1: WHAT
UK PREPARATIONS FOR
The internal co-ordination of the input of Cabinet
The different units of the Cabinet Office work
closely together on matters of common interest and concern. In
the main, the work of the different Cabinet Office units is directed
primarily towards domestic policies and activities, and in that
way they are contributing to the UK's preparations for WSSD. Many
Cabinet Office units, notably the Women and Equality Unit, the
Social Exclusion Unit and the Government Offices for the Regions,
play a role in helping to deliver the UK's sustainable development
strategy and in the implementation of Agenda 21. In addition,
the work of the unitsfor example the experience of the
SEU in tackling poverty and social exclusion in the UK, and the
reports of the Performance and Innovation Unit on resource productivity
and energyhelp to inform the UK's position in the international
negotiations preparing for WSSD. A dedicated team within the Central
Policy Group of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister supports
and co-ordinates these efforts.
The relationship between the Cabinet Office and
As noted above, the Deputy Prime Minister chairs
the Ministerial Group MISC 18. Through his chairmanship of MISC
18, the Deputy Prime Minister's key role is to ensure collective
consideration across Government of the strategic issues, and to
ensure a co-ordinated and agreed approach. To the extent that
specific Cabinet Office concerns need to be reflected to the Ministerial
Group, the Deputy Prime Minister is able to do so, with the support
of the team referred to above.
Input to MISC 18 from the Cabinet Office is
co-ordinated through the Central Policy Group in the Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister, which provides general advice and support
to the Deputy Prime Minister on matters relating to WSSD. Internally
this involves regular liaison with the Cabinet Office Sustainable
Development Unit, which handles domestic sustainable development
matters, and co-ordinates the implementation of actions agreed
by ENV(G) as they apply to the department; and with other units
as appropriate. Externally, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
works particularly closely with colleagues in DEFRA, FCO, DfID,
DTI, HMT and Number 10.
The Deputy Prime Minister's role as chairman
of MISC 18 is supported by the Cabinet Office Secretariat, as
for all Committee chairmen.
In addition to the work of MISC 18, the Office
of the Deputy Prime Minister provides support to the Deputy Prime
Minister in his international role in the run up to the Summit,
in particular for his meetings with international leaders. This
role is detailed in the memorandum submitted to the Committee
on 26 November 2001 (Annex 1).
Officials from the Cabinet Office are members
of the WSSD Inter-Departmental Working Group.
Cabinet Office papers/strategies/other work to
support its contribution to MISC 18 and/or UK preparations, and
reviews of progress
MISC 18 keeps under regular review the progress
of the UK's preparations for WSSD and has settled the UK's priorities
for the Summit. However, it has been the practice of successive
governments neither to disclose the agendas of Cabinet Committee
meetings, nor the detail of their discussions.
The Cabinet Office has contributed towards the
Government's Annual Report on Sustainable Development (due to
be published in April).
The Cabinet Office Management Board has not
yet formally discussed policy and day-to-day progress on UK preparations
for WSSD. The Management Board will however shortly receive a
presentation from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on its
work concerning WSSD. Cabinet Office Ministers collectively have
also received a presentation on UK preparations for WSSD.
The Performance and Innovation Unit are working
towards UK preparations for WSSD in the specific areas of resource
productivity and energy. In particular, they are engaging with
the European Commission, and individual Member States to ensure
the EU will adopt a forward and proactive position on resource
productivity at WSSD. The PIU is also engaging with the US on
this issue, with key developing countries, and with the International
The Women and Equality Unit will lead the UK
delegation to the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women
(CSW) in March, and will promote the UK's priorities on the themes
of environmental management and the mitigation of natural disasters
and gender perspectives and eradicating poverty. The outcome of
that meeting will form the CSW's input into WSSD.
The DPM's engagement with world leaders regarding
An updated list of world leaders with whom the
Deputy Prime Minister PM has engaged and raised WSSD is provided
at Annex 3.
The Deputy Prime Minister will be meeting Kofi
Annan on 25 February, and Vice-President Dick Cheney on 11 March.
He will be speaking at a conference on sustainable development
in Vancouver on 15 March. The Deputy Prime Minister will continue
to meet key world leaders in the run-up to the Summit to help
ensure the success of the event.
How has the Cabinet Office publicised the preparations
for the World Summit and its own involvement at home in the UK?
The Cabinet Office has issued several press
releases in recent months publicising the Deputy Prime Minister's
work in raising awareness of WSSD and the issues that surround
the Summit both at home and abroad, and the Cabinet Office's contribution
towards the sustainable development agenda, for example through
the PIU reports referred to above.
The Government Offices for the Regions have
worked with local authorities to raise awareness of the Summit
at a local level.
DEFRA have responsibility for the overall Government
communications strategy for WSSD which has been agreed inter-departmentally.
QUESTION 2: WHICH
The Cabinet Office does not have lead responsibility
for monitoring any of the UK Sustainable Development Strategy's
headline indicators, although we maintain a strong interest in
progress against each of them. Particularly relevant to the Cabinet
Office are the indicators concerning poverty and social exclusion,
andprincipally through our operational activitiesthe
indicators concerning climate change and waste. The Cabinet Office's
internal arrangements for greening its operations is laid out
in the Cabinet Office Sustainable Development Strategy.
Current work being undertaken by the Social
Exclusion Unit on transport and social exclusion is likely to
impact on sustainable development indicators across government.
QUESTION 3: WHAT
TO UK PROGRESS
21 AFTER THE
A principal route by which the Cabinet Office
monitors the contribution of its policies and programmes to sustainable
development is via the Department's current work on the business
planning round. Guidance on sustainable development has been circulated
for use by all Units, to supplement the Policy Makers' Checklist.
Each Management Unit will be setting out their contributions to
the sustainable development agenda as part of their bids. These
contributions will form the Cabinet Office Sustainable Development
Report, which will be submitted to the Treasury alongside the
Department's main bid in the 2002 Spending Review.
The Cabinet Office Environmental Forum exists
to assist the integration of sustainable development into new
policy development and to reduce the environmental impact of the
Cabinet Office's and its agencies' operations. The Forum takes
into account in particular all commitments agreed by the Green
Ministers' Committee (ENV(G)) which fall to the Cabinet Office.
All principal Divisions of the Cabinet Office are represented
on the Forum, as well as the nine Government Offices, the Government
Car and Despatch Agency and the Central Office of Information.
The Social Exclusion Unit has contributed towards
progress on the achievement of sustainable development in the
UK in particular through its work on the creation of sustainable
communities and neighbourhood renewal. All the policy reports
published by the SEU contain floor targets and performance indicators.
Responsibility for achieving and monitoring these targets does
not remain with the Cabinet Office but is passed to the Department
leading on each policy area. For example, the Neighbourhood Renewal
Unit (NRU) in DTLR was set up on the recommendation of the SEU
to take forward its work on the National Strategy for Neighbourhood
Renewal, which complements work undertaken under Agenda 21.
Following machinery of government changes after
the 2001 election, the Government Offices for the Regions (GOs)
became part of the Cabinet Office under the Regional Co-ordination
Unit. In 1997, the Prime Minister set a target for all local authorities
to have a Local Agenda 21 in place by the end of 2000. Over 90
per cent of all authorities in England met this target. GOs played
a valuable role in the process, offering advice and support. GOs
were also key players in developing the varied arrangements in
each region that have led to the publication of Regional Sustainable
Development Frameworks. These set out both the regions' overarching
strategy for achieving sustainable development, as well as targets
and indicators, and they provide a context for other regional
plans, including the RDA's economic strategies and regional planning
The Local Government Act 2000 introduced a duty
for local authorities to prepare Community Strategies. These must
demonstrate the way in which each local authority is contributing
towards sustainable development in the UK. They build on the work
of Local Agenda 21, and set targets that relate to their Regional
Sustainable Development Framework. They are monitored by means
of local sustainable development indicators.
Government Offices continue to work with regional
partners to support the implementation of sustainable development
policy through the monitoring and review of Regional Sustainable
Development Frameworks and through advice and support to Local
Authorities on Community Strategies. The Cabinet Office is responsible
for negotiating the Business Plans for Government Offices in which
this work is reflected.