Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Department of Trade and Industry


  1.  DTI has been closely involved in UK preparations for WSSD. The department has been an integral part of UK preparations for, and member of delegations to the processes that prepared for the Rio Summit, and those that emerged from UNCED, including the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), and for example the UNECE regional preparatory conference in preparation for WSSD.

  2.  The department's main focus has been on the key business contribution to progress towards the goal of sustainable development. In addition, DTI has had lead responsibility for the UK approach on the issue of technology transfer—together with finance, a critical and sensitive focus of attention at the multilateral level since before Rio.

  3.  The sustainable development team in Environment Directorate leads the DTI input. It co-ordinates input from the wide range of DTI interests, including, for example, those related to trade, energy, science and innovation policy. It does so using the various networks, teams, and mechanisms through which it co-ordinates the Department's overall approach to sustainable development and its integration throughout the department's policies and activities. These are the same avenues used in the DTI contribution to: "A better quality of life—a strategy for sustainable development for the UK" published as "Quality of Life Counts" in December 1999; development and further progress on the EU Sustainable Development Strategy agreed at the Gothenburg European Council; as well as the development and implementation of DTI's own Sustainable Development Strategy.

  4.  DTI was also closely involved in preparation of the UK White Paper on International Development: "Eliminating World Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor" (December 2000) that sets out the UK approach on many of the issues that will be key to the success of the Summit.

  5.  MISC18 is an important route, but not the only one by which the DTI is contributing to UK preparations to WSSD. Other contributions include active involvement in preparations at EU level. This includes taking the lead on the EU approach on science, technology and innovation issues, and playing an influential role in development of the EU approach on "sustainable production and consumption," as well as other business-related issues such as energy and globalisation/trade.

  6.  This involvement flows naturally from and builds on DTI's longstanding contribution to policy and action on sustainable development at the national, EU and wider international levels. As part of the interdepartmental team preparing for the Summit, the department has contributed to the papers for consideration by MISC18, in particular on the UK approach to science, technology, resource productivity and business engagement, including work which DEFRA are coordinating on five possible business initiatives. The department has contributed to the government's efforts to publicise WSSD, for example through participation in various stakeholder and other events focused on the Summit. But it has not undertaken any particular actions on its own account to publicise the Summit or its involvement in the preparations.

  7.  In keeping with the overall UK aim of encouraging a forward-looking approach at WSSD focused on implementation, DTI is undertaking a specific stream of work aimed at ensuring a positive and constructive outcome on "technology transfer." This looks to address the issue in the wider context of the development and continuous improvement of capacities to access, absorb, use and adapt scientific and technological knowledge, in particular in developing countries.

  8.  With DTI funding and support, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) held a "High-level workshop on strategies for addressing the linkages between technology and sustainable development at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg 2002" on 17-18 January 2002. The workshop brought together high level officials, experts from business, academia, NGO's from developed and developing countries as well international organisations to consider key issues related to technology and sustainable development, to help generate ideas for new initiatives that could be taken forward at WSSD. [see annex]. It was also circulated as an official background document at the recent PrepCom II at the United Nations.

  9.  Chatham House have circulated a draft full report of the event for comment by participants. The final report, including the opening speeches by Lord Sainsbury, the Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Ngubane, Minister of Arts, Culture Science and Technology, Republic of South Africa, and Dr Hee-Yoi YU, Vice Minister for Science and Technology, Republic of Korea, will be made widely available shortly. Like the summary report, it will be available on the UN Web site: In the light of informal discussions with a number of delegations and others in the margins of PrepCom II, the DTI and Chatham House will be exploring further the options for taking or encouraging new initiatives at and after WSSD.


  10.  DTI has not approached the UK Sustainable Development indicators, either the full set of the 15 headline indicators, individually or collectively as being the responsibility of particular individual departments. They are tools for helping to monitor and assess progress towards the overall goal of sustainable development, as well as guiding policy development and priorities.


  11.  The linkages between the SD indicators and particular policy areas and, where relevant, to performance against particular PSA targets are set out and discussed in the reports reviewing progress on the UK sustainable development strategy. DTI contributes to the preparation of these reports, in particular in respect of business and business-related progress. The first annual report was published in January 2001 and the second, for 2001, will be published shortly. DTI has also reviewed progress in implementing its departmental SD Strategy in consultation with a range of stakeholders. A report will be published in the coming weeks. Both the strategy itself and the review have focused on a number of key priority areas rather than attempting to address comprehensively the very wide ranging contributions that DTI policies and activities make to sustainable development and its economic, environmental and social pillars. The department had not attempted to assess the contribution of its policies and activities since 1992 to the issues and actions covered in the forty chapters and nearly four hundred pages of Agenda 21, nor does it have plans to do so.

February 2002

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