79. This report considers how the architecture for
delivering sustainable development needs to change to deliver
more sustainable government, and how the sustainable development
agenda should be revitalised to deliver the 'green' and 'long
term' ambitions of the Coalition Government. A new architecture
would be able to deliver improvements in the sustainability of
Government operations and procurement and it would also provide
the leadership, tools and scrutiny needed to deliver more sustainable
80. The Government must recognise that Defra is not
in a position to be able to make departments act more sustainably.
Its non-central position limits its ability to influence other
departments or to hold them to account. The Cabinet Office is
better located to do this. Policy leadership on sustainable development
should be transferred to the Cabinet Office which would drive
the embedding of sustainable development Whitehall-wide, and a
new minister for sustainable government should be created to oversee
that imperative. That minister would be responsible for monitoring
the sustainability of all Government programmes and policies.
The capacity to undertake this leadership role should make use
of existing Defra expertise on sustainable development, transferring
the relevant teams if necessary.
81. The Treasury needs to commit to the sustainable
development agenda, to play an essential supporting role to the
Cabinet Office. The Treasury has levers at its disposal to help
ensure the compliance of other departments, which it could use
to underpin sustainable decision-making in departments. It must
commit to overhauling the 'Green Book' so that it fully reflects
the principles of sustainable development; an area we intend to
return to in a future inquiry.
82. A new cabinet committee should be set up to drive
this agenda across Whitehall which would include representatives
from all departments, and provide a forum in which a new sustainable
development minister and the Cabinet Office and Treasury could
drive forward the sustainable development agenda.
83. The components of a new architecture for embedding
sustainable development in Government need to be brought together
in a new Sustainable Development Strategy.
84. We will continue to scrutinise the sustainable
development performance of Government. We will undertake regular
assessments of the Government's sustainable development performance
and hold Ministers to account by: monitoring the Government's
sustainable operations and procurement data and reporting processes,
and changes anticipated for the indicators system; and reviewing
the appraisal of government policies, across Government, and the
impact of these policies on sustainable development. Most importantly,
we will examine the operation of the post-SDC architecture that
Government establishes to embed sustainable development in all