Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence



  London is a global centre of finance and has great power as a result. With power comes responsibility. A set of principles with the current working title of "The London Principles on Sustainable Development" are being developed, with the aim of promoting responsibility and transparency, through interviews with around 40 key players in the City. They will be refined following a stakeholder workshop and will be finalised by a high-level steering group. The Principles will be used to widen the uptake of these ideas into the mainstream of the City's activities. High-level commitment to the report and the principles will be obtained from key financial services CEOs between February 2002 and WSSD. In addition, we are investigating the possibility of developing an initiative in conjunction with other Government Departments and City institutions to increase private finance flows to the developing world through a partnership between Government and the private sector. Discussions are still at an early stage.


  1.1 billion people lack safe drinking water and 2.4 billion lack adequate sanitation. If current trends persist, by 2025 two out of every three people on earth will live in water-stressed conditions. This initiative focuses on secondary cities and peri-urban areas in Africa. By forming a partnership between government, civil society and the private sector, it aims to develop and implement innovative approaches to multistakeholder engagement with a particular focus on capacity building and identifying innovative financing arrangements for water supply and sanitation services directed at the poor. It will complement existing activities.


  Tourism can bring real ecnomic gains. But too often it leads to environmental damage and few benefits to local communities. This initiative has the engagement of over forty organisations: tour operators, NGOs and government. They are committed to creating a step-change in sustainable tourism practices. Five working groups are developing action plans. For example there will be initiatives to enable tourists visiting developing countries to spend more of their money outside the complexes benefiting local artisanal and service industries and to prevent tourism making excessive demands on scarce local resources. They are developing a "Responsible Tourism Foundation" to implement the action plans. This will be financed by a cross industry fund.


  Illegal logging will be tackled by agreeing measures at an international level and through UK Government departments and other public sector bodies procuring their timber and wood products from sustainable and legal sources. The Forestry Commission is working with business and NGOs to integrate voluntary and regulatory instruments for sustainable forestry and forest products in the UK and to promote the uptake of certification. The Forest Industries Development Council (FIDC) is coordinating preparation of a sectoral sustainability strategy covering the whole wood chain, from growing through to timber processing, with emphasis on the UK forest products sector, including renewable energy. To date 40 per cent of UK forests are certified against the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS) and approximately 65 per cent of timber output from the UK is certified. The Forest Stewardship Council recognises UKWAS. The Government will be publishing a UK Statement on Sustainable Forestry for the World Summit, drawing on the work of the initative. The aim is to share experience gained in the implementation of sustainable practices in the UK with partners in the developing world.


  A cross-departmental Whitehall Sustainable Energy Initiative Working Group has been set up with specific commitment for action following the G8 Task Force Report on Renewable Energy. The UK does not have a large manufacturing base in renewable energy equipment, making a large-scale energy initiative harder to launch. Our main strengths lie in consultancy, finance, project management and services. We are currently discussing options for industry involvement with Shell and BP, among others. Greenpeace has been very active in following up this work, launching a global campaign with The Body Shop with the aim of bringing renewable energy to two billion poor people. Though we do not believe this goal is realistic, we are working with development colleagues to outline a concrete programme of action to bring appropriate modern energy services to poor people and communities. We expect this to be a main focus of WSSD. We hope to be able to launch an initiative with UK companies early in the New Year.

January 2002

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