Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office


  The Environmental Audit Committee is undertaking an inquiry into UK preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, 26 August to 4 September 2002 Johannesburg) and has asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to submit a memorandum as part of its investigations.

1.  What input has FCO had to the UK preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development?

  1.1.1  The FCO has a substantial contribution to make both to the formulation and delivery of the UK's aims for WSSD. We use our Global network to engage key partners and to build support for UK aims for WSSD. This includes drawing attention to linkages with other international policy processes relevant to WSSD, for example trade regulation, the Financing for Development and the external policies of the EU.

1.2  The committee is aware that each department is represented on the MISC 18 Ministerial Group on the World Summit on Sustainable Development chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister. Please outline how [the FCO] co-ordinates its input to this committee.

  1.2.1  Many parts of the FCO and our network of overseas Posts are involved in this effort. Overall FCO input is co-ordinated by a working group chaired by the Global Issues Director and attended by geographic and relevant functional departments (United Nations, Planners, Economic Policy, Human Rights Policy, Legal Advisers, Commonwealth, News, Parliamentary Relations, Research Analysts, Energy/Maritime). Day to day co-ordination of FCO work is provided by a dedicated five-person team in Environment Policy Department, four members of which have been seconded into the FCO to supply specialised support for the Summit preparations. These secondees come from LEAD (Leadership and Development) International, Unilever and WWF. The FCO team work closely with DEFRA and other government departments to co-ordinate and develop policy issues.

  1.2.2  Within the FCO, Global Issues Command leads on co-ordinating WSSD activity. FCO departments are closely involved in a range of WSSD issues, including governance, globalisation, financing for development, energy, corporate social responsibility and water/oceans. The FCO is also responsible for developing and co-ordinating the UK's diplomatic strategy for WSSD.

1.3  Is MISC 18 the key route by which your department is contributing to the UK preparations for the World Summit?

  1.3.1  The FCO is undertaking a number of key initiatives as part of the UK preparations for WSSD. These are co-ordinated with other government departments at the High Level Steering Group supporting MISC 18.

    —  FCO officials attend all Whitehall meetings on WSSD, and chair Whitehall groups formulating UK positions on environment and sustainable development governance, globalisation and energy.

    —  FCO officials also attend meetings of the EU working group co-ordinating WSSD in Brussels and all UN preparatory meetings as well as feeding UK positions into EU, Commonwealth and wider UN processes.

    —  The FCO has been leading on efforts to ensure WSSD has a high profile in the Commonwealth, including at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

    —  The FCO leads on two of the Prime Minister's five business initiatives announced in March 2001 to demonstrate partnership action for Sustainable Development in and by the UK. These cover finance, tourism, energy, forestry and water. The FCO leads on developing initiatives with UK business on tourism and energy.

  1.3.2  With other government departments, the FCO has selected 29 WSSD target Posts to focus UK diplomatic efforts in preparation for the Summit. This network of FCO posts has undertaken several lobbying exercises on WSSD. The wider FCO network has helped promote WSSD by putting it on the agenda for Ministerial and high level bilateral meetings and visits. These bilateral contacts have been used to promote UK objectives for WSSD, encourage high level attendance, and attempt to stimulate the involvement of non-environment ministries in WSSD preparations.

  1.3.3  The FCO's environment attachés network was launched at a conference held in November 2001 attended by 48 Posts plus OGDs and NGOs. Preparations for WSSD were a primary focus of the conference, the aim of which was to improve the effectiveness of the FCO network in promoting UK environmental and sustainable development objectives.

  1.3.4  The FCO's Environment Project Fund (EPF) is being used to finance projects worth £130,000 in South Africa to help prepare for WSSD and another £608,213 world-wide to assist civil society in developing countries with their WSSD preparations. Examples include projects on "Regional Voices and Global Partnership" in the Solomon Islands (£61,831) Project 2 and another called "Youth, Poverty and Environment" in the Cameroon (£36,582).

1.4  Please outline how far other involvement in the preparations (additional to attendance at MISC 18) came about. For example was it by request from another department, instigated by [FCO] and/or [FCO's] ongoing work?

  1.4.1  The UK's goals on Sustainable Development are cross-departmental and can only be effective if each Department contributes what it can to the shared goals. The FCO's involvement is a contribution to this team effort.

1.5  Please give details of any papers/strategies/other work that [FCO] has prepared to support [its] contribution to MISC 18 and the UK preparations in general. Has [the FCO] carried out or contributed to any special reviews of progress connected to preparations for the Johannesburg Summit? Have these been discussed at management board level?

  1.5.1  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 not to disclose the agendas or substance of Cabinet Committees.

  1.5.2  The FCO has carried out analyses of several issues related to strengthening international environmental governance, and continues research into sustainable development governance issues.

1.6  Has the [FCO] actively publicised the preparations for the World Summit and its own involvement?

  1.6.1  The FCO has actively publicised the preparations for the WSSD through its website, conferences and receptions (including the attaches event), other diplomatic events (for example, two environmental diplomacy seminars for EU officials and NGOs held in 2001) and through public diplomacy activities by Posts.

  1.6.2  The FCO also contributed to DEFRA's communications strategy, soon to be published.

2.  Please set out which UK Sustainable Development indicators [FCO] has lead responsibility for and which other indicators the [FCO's] policies particularly affect.

  2.1  The FCO does not lead on any Sustainable Development indicators. Those to which the FCO is seeking to contribute are[1]:

    —  Sustainable tourism.

    —  Rise in global temperature.

    —  Fish stocks around the UK fished within safe limits.

    —  State of the world's fisheries.

    —  Overseas Territories fisheries.

    —  Biodiversity in coastal/marine areas.

    —  Compliance with bathing water directive.

    —  Number of countries with national forest programmes.

    —  Native species at risk.

    —  Greening government operations.

    —  Public understanding and awareness.

    —  UK public expenditure on global environment protection.

    —  Implementation of multilateral environment agreements.

3.  What systems does the [FCO] have in place to monitor progress on how far the [FCO's] policies are contributing to UK progress on Sustainable Development and the issues which were mapped out in Agenda 21 after the Earth Summit in 1992?

  3.1  FCO objectives on sustainable development are set out in the Public Service Agreements and cover the economic, social and environmental pillars. Progress towards these objectives is reviewed quarterly.

  3.2  FCO participation in ENV(G) (Green Ministers) helps to focus FCO policies towards the achievement of the headline indicators outlined in the UK Sustainable Development Strategy. For example:

    —  The FCO is writing a Sustainable Development Report as part of its Spending Review 2002 bid;

    —  The FCO has produced a strategy for raising awareness of sustainable development—a baseline survey on staff awareness was carried out in 2000 and progress will be reviewed later this summer;

    —  An environmental management system is to be implemented in the FCO from March 2002. This system will provide a framework for the identification and management of our environmental impacts, such as energy and water use, waste, travel and procurement.

February 2002

1   DETR (1999) Quality of Life Counts. Back

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