Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1



    —  To help raise awareness of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) taking place in South Africa in September 2002.

    —  To use the Summit as a focus to encourage the general public and stakeholders to commit to sustainable development, and its potential for improving the quality of life of this and future generations, demonstrating how the "global" aims of WSSD are relevant at the local level.

    —  To work with all the key stakeholders (government departments and their agencies, local/regional/devolved government, business, NGOs and other organisations) to ensure widest possible support for the Summit's objectives and to demonstrate that participation/contribution is bottom-up and not perceived as Government-led.

    —  To demonstrate that the UK is meeting it's international responsibilities, and is working to improve the quality of life for this and future generations.

In order to achieve these objectives we need to

    —  improve communications between all the relevant stakeholders in the UK and to establish effective links as appropriate; and

    —  promote UK initiatives on sustainable development and highlight UK achievements since Rio.

WSSD: Background

  The World Summit on Sustainable Development will take place in Johannesburg on 26 August to 4 September 2002. It marks the tenth anniversary of the Rio Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The Prime Minister was the first Head of Government to commit to attend the Summit on October 2000.

  The UN decided that the Summit should be prepared from "the bottom up" through regional preparatory meetings to secure ownership from countries. In addition there have been eminent person's roundtables in the five UN regions designed to bring in fresh ideas. This preparatory process means there is not yet a formal agenda. Key players agree, however, that the overarching issue is the link between poverty, environment and development. Other common themes emerging from these discussions include:

    —  levels of ODA;

    —  resource efficiency;

    —  energy;

    —  water, including oceans; and

    —  action for Africa.


  These are wide-ranging, but can be broadly categorised as:

    —  The "converted" public and stakeholders, including NGOs, local authorities and business who are active in this area.

    —  The "unconverted" public and stakeholders who might not be hostile but who are generally sceptical or uninformed about sustainable development.

    —  The "converted" media, including most broadsheets, BBC News/documentaries, Channel 4, ITN and SKY News and to some extent the regional media who note the direct impact of policies and actions on their readers.

    —  The "unconverted" media, including the tabloids who whilst not necessarily hostile are not particularly interested.


  As the key aims and objectives of Summit itself become clearer, we need to develop in more detail what the key UK objectives will be for the Summit and what other messages we want to convey to both the national and international audience. DEFRA is the lead department but will work closely with FCO, DFID, DTI, Cabinet Office and other departments. The newly established Cabinet Committee will also want to consider what the UK's wider global messages should be, particularly in relation to the events of 11 September. We will consider this further in light of those discussions.

  At this stage however the key domestic messages we want to convey include:

    —  The Summit will involve civil society, business, local and regional government in putting sustainable development at the heart of future policies.

    —  It is a global conference which will have direct local impacts—"think globally, act locally" involvement is a key part of the process.

    —  It covers social, developmental and environmental issues.

    —  UK has got a good story to tell so far and is committed to continued progress.

"Negative" issues which we need to take into account

  These include:

    —  Overkill—the potential for peaking/boring target audiences by promising much and delivering little.

    —  Difficulty in giving a "steer" from Government as to its aims and objectives for WSSD when the Summit's own agenda has not been set.

    —  Indifference/low level of understanding of what sustainable development means.

    —  Rio + 5 = poor delivery (seen as top down).

    —  Perceived US disengagement.

    —  Despite positive action the environment is still degrading.

    —  Suspicion amongst developing countries.

    —  "Globalisation" has a negative context.

    —  September 11: negative impact on business/security, attendance of world leaders/priorities etc.

Positive messages we should promote

  These include:

    —  PM the first leader to state he will attend.

    —  Significance of WSSD recognised in the PM's Party Conference Speech and in subsequent Ministerial speeches.

    —  Cabinet Committee set up to develop, co-ordinate and deliver the Government's strategy for WSSD.

    —  WSSD provides a focal point for progress.

    —  Opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders to take part.

    —  Big business now more environmentally aware and UK Business a leader [involvement in PM Business Initiatives].

    —  Local authority activity—Local Agenda 21.

    —  Highlight links with other cross-cutting policies e.g. Liveability.

    —  September 11 raised awareness of issues like poverty, resource issues, migration etc.


  As identified above, the target audience ranges from the very knowledgeable to those who either have no knowledge, no interest or both and we need to differentiate between them.

Unconverted public, stakeholders and media:

  This is a key problem and this strategy does not attempt to address all the issues. WSSD is just one element in raising public awareness and understanding of sustainable development in the wider context. Where possible therefore, we should link in with existing/future campaigns and events, which are relevant to the broad aims and objectives of WSSD. This should include not only government departments but also NGOs and other stakeholder groups. This should also help to reinforce the message that WSSD is relevant at the domestic level. By adopting this approach, it will be important to "brand" this activity by means of a logo or similar to demonstrate a "joined-up" approach (see Annex A).

  Engaging the tabloids and regional media will be vital if we are to influence this audience. Government Departments will need to work together to ensure that Sustainable Development features prominently within announcements, and that media handling addresses this point. We need to use the full range of media, including consumer/womens' magazines, exhibitions and websites. DEFRA Communications Directorate will be setting out their own proposals shortly and informing other departments.

  Also important will be internal communication to staff of Government Departments and agencies. DEFRA will be work with House Magazine Editors and others to demonstrate the relevance of sustainable development to their work.

We must be realistic about how much impact any of this will have

  We should also consider how we might engage "celebrities" as a means of engaging a younger, more diverse audience. The best way to do this will be through the NGOs we are working with, some of which have celebrity sponsors/contacts. These could include musicians, actors, sportsmen and women, writers, members of the Royal Family etc, either with or without a known interest in environment or development issues. We also need to consider possible links with other events like the Queen's Jubilee celebrations.

Converted stakeholders, public and media:

  This includes mainly those government departments, NGOs, local authorities and business who are actively participating in the process or who have yet to decide what, if any, involvement, they should have. Again, we need to use a range of tools to ensure that this group is kept fully informed about UK preparations for the summit at both a national and international level. Equally importantly we need to ensure that their contribution/views will be acknowledged.

  DEFRA are proposing to set up a communications group of interested stakeholders to discuss and take forward proposals highlighted in this strategy. For more details see annex B. The inter-departmental steering group on WSSD also provides a forum within which government departments, their agencies and the devolved administrations can consult and inform colleagues. To support both of these groups DEFRA is currently redesigning parts of the sustainable development website on WSSD (details at annex C).

MethodTarget Audience—Domestic
Cabinet Committee: MISC 18OGDs and devolved administrations primarily but broader message to all the stakeholders
Specialist MediaNGOs, Local Authorities, Business and other bodies
Ministerial Activities (speeches, meetings, receptions—either as host or guest) OGDs, NGOs, Local Authorities, Business, Media and other organisations
Official representation at relevant presentations, seminars, meetings etc OGDs, NGOs, Local Authorities, Business and other organisations
Newsletters/other visual materialNGOs, Local Authorities, Business and other organisations
Internet/WebsitesNGOs, Local Authorities, Business and other organisations
Launch of SDU reportNGOs, Local Authorities, Business, other organisations and informed members of the public

International Audience:

  We also need to consider how we communicate with other countries in both the developed and developing world.

MethodTarget Audience—International
Ministerial visits/bi-laterals/attendance at international events Governments in both developing and developed world/NGOs and other key organisations
Posts overseas/telegrams/briefingGovernments in both developing and developed world/NGOs and other key organisations


  Key players/stakeholders include:

Central Government

    —  PM (Special Advisors).

    —  Office of the DPM and Cabinet Office Secretariat.

    —  Departments: Ministers (Green Ministers), Special Advisors, Permanent Secretaries, Communications Directorate, colleagues in relevant policy areas.

    —  Agencies/NDPBs.

    —  Select Committees, MPs.

    —  Government Offices.

Devolved Administrations

Local Government

Regional Government

NGOs/Civil Society

    —  Children/Schools/Youth Organisations.

    —  Faith Organisations.

    —  Women's Organisations.

    —  "Older People" Organisations.

    —  Environmental and Developmental Organisations.

    —  [Others to add/be identified].



    —  Trade Unions.

    —  [Others to add/be identified].

  We would welcome additions to this list.

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