Embedding sustainable development across Government, after the Secretary of State's announcement on the future of the Sustainable Development Commission - Environmental Audit Committee Contents


Written evidence submitted by DEA and Oxfam

1.  ABOUT DEA

1.1  DEA is an education charity that promotes global learning. We work to ensure that people in the UK learn about global issues such as poverty and climate change and develop an open-minded, global outlook. DEA defines global learning as education that puts learning in a global context, fostering:

  1. critical and creative thinking;
  2. self-awareness and open-mindedness towards difference;
  3. understanding of global issues and power relationships; and
  4. optimism and action for a better world.

1.2  DEA is a membership body, with over 150 organisational members including subject associations, universities, local authorities and many development and environment NGOs in the UK.

1.3  DEA is submitting this evidence in partnership with Oxfam. This submission has been developed in consultation with Oxfam's UK campaigns department, and represents the views of both organisations.

2.  SUMMARY

2.1  We recommend that:

  1. The Environmental Audit Committee inquiry focuses on the role of Government in promoting awareness and take-up of sustainable development throughout civil society, as well as focusing on the government's own operations or estate.
  2. To facilitate this wider role, the inquiry considers how the architecture of government can be more effectively coordinated across departments, taking the draft Global Learning Strategy for Schools as an example of a useful mechanism for coordination.
  3. Specifically with regard to putting sustainability at the heart of education, the inquiry explores how the Department for Education can build on the legacy of the successful National Framework for Sustainable Schools to support all schools to become sustainable schools.

3.  ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

3.1  We welcome the Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry into embedding sustainable development across Government, and the implied interest of the new Government in bringing sustainability to the heart of their work.

3.2  However, we note the emphasis of the call for evidence on the practical operation of Government: procurement, operations, reporting etc. Whilst it is crucial that Government models sustainable practice and works to reduce the impact of its operations on the environment, we believe that being "the greenest government ever" must mean more than sustainable operations.

3.3  One of the crucial roles of the Sustainable Development Commission was in promoting awareness of the concept of sustainable development throughout civil society, and it is essential that Government continues to play a role in this.

3.4  A good example of a way in which Government can promote awareness of sustainable development is the National Framework for Sustainable Schools, a voluntary framework supporting schools to transform the experiences and outcomes of pupils whilst improving the environmental performance of the school and contributing to sustainable communities.

3.5  A whole-school commitment to sustainable development has been found to have a range of positive impacts, on sustainable lives, pupil outcomes, and campus operations. Encouraging and supporting schools throughout the country to put sustainability at the heart of what they do has, and will continue to have, a far greater impact than changes to the Department for Education's own operations and estate.

3.6  A report by Ofsted[1] found that pupils who had the opportunity to explore issues of sustainability at school "tended to lead sustainable lives at home and there was increasing evidence of this leading to positive changes in their families' views and behaviour. The commitment, enthusiasm and initiative of young people were also a spur to members of the wider community to re-examine their own lifestyles".

3.7  In addition, the report indicated that in schools committed to sustainability students experienced a range of other positive outcomes, including improved attitudes, behaviour and engagement, in addition to experiencing improved teaching: "Most of the headteachers found that, over the course of the survey, education for sustainability had been an important factor in improving teaching and learning more generally. This was confirmed through lesson observations in a range of subjects across the sample of schools visited".

3.8  A focus on sustainable development was also found to "lead to reduced financial costs and better management of resources and estate".

3.9  Fulfilling its role to promote sustainable development requires more effective coordination of the architecture of government. A good example of such mechanisms is the draft joint DFID/DfE Global Learning Strategy for Schools. In developing this shared vision, government departments came together to consider how their work can jointly support young people to engage with global challenges such as sustainability. This joint vision offered the potential for both financial savings through the rationalisation of government support, and greater impact on sustainable development through a coherent and coordinated offer from both departments.

3.10  We therefore recommend that:

  1. The Environmental Audit Committee inquiry focuses on the role of Government in promoting awareness and take-up of sustainable development throughout civil society, as well as focusing on the government's own operations or estate.
  2. To facilitate this wider role, the inquiry considers how the architecture of government can be more effectively coordinated across departments, taking the draft Global Learning Strategy for Schools as an example of a useful mechanism for coordination.
  3. Specifically with regard to putting sustainability at the heart of education, the inquiry explores how the Department for Education can build on the legacy of the successful National Framework for Sustainable Schools to support all schools to become sustainable schools.

8 October 2010


1   Ofsted, 2009, Education for sustainable development, Manchester:Ofsted.  Back


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 10 January 2011