Written evidence submitted by the "Cradle
to Cradle Network", Lead for the East of England (Partner
8), Suffolk County Council |
The Cradle to Cradle Network aims to help regions
across Europe to move towards eco-effective societies. This brief
response, following the Environmental Audit Committee's invitation
to comment on embedding sustainable development across Government,
points towards a more positive interpretation of "sustainability"
and suggests that a visible ambition and movement to achieve eco-effectiveness
(through the development of particular principles) will help the
Government to differentiate itself from previous administrations
and demonstrate that it is the "greenest government ever".
1. The Cradle to Cradle Network (C2CN) consists
of ten European regions committed to reducing raw materials' utilisation,
generating less waste and environmental pollution as well as enhancing
economic development, inspired by the concept of "Cradle
2. There are 10 partner countries in the project.
In the UK, Suffolk County Council is the lead authority representing
the East of England region. Other regions represented in the project
are Lead Partner Province of Limburg (Netherlands), Ovam (Belgium),
RDA Milano (Italy), City Graz (Austria), RDA Rhone Alp (France),
RDA Kainuu (Finland), RDA W. Pannonia (Hungary), RDA NE Romania
3. C2CN is an "INTERREG IV C" capitalisation
project and is funded primarily by the European Regional Development
Fund with contributions from the ten partner regions.
4. Suffolk County Council, on behalf of C2CN,
welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Environmental Audit
Committee's inquiry on embedding sustainable development across
Government. Comments below are set out in relation to each question
posed by this inquiry that the C2CN has an interest in responding
How can mechanisms to ensure the sustainability
of Government operations, procurement and policy-making be improved
and further embedded and mainstreamed across Government departments?
5. In order to improve the "sustainability"
of Government operations awareness of true measurements of "sustainability"
needs to be raised amongst politicians and within the civil service.
"Sustainability" should mean more than reducing the
consumption rate or negative impact of an operation to an agreed
"acceptable" level. This is only likely to prolong the
timeframe for which an operation can be sustained. The world has
a finite amount of resources and however "efficient"
operations become, if this is not combined with a commitment to
using resources in an effective manner (i.e. they never become
"waste" but are re-used / upcycled and remain in a chain
of utility) then there is a limit to how sustainable
any operation can be.
6. The C2CN would advocate a commitment to moving
towards an eco-effective approach to operations, whenever possible,
to ensure "sustainability" in the truest sense of the
word. Eco-efficiency techniques can lead to a reduction of negative
environmental effects, but do not encourage real alternatives
to the linear "cradle to grave" material flows. Eco-effectiveness,
on the other hand, ensures that resources flow in a cycle whereby
at the "end" of a cycle they form the beginning or feed
stock for a new one. In addition, renewable energy will feed these
cycles of production and consumption. If valuable materials are
difficult to separate out or reuse at the end of products' useful
life span, materials are gradually dumped or incinerated (with
or without energy recovery). Design for eco-effectiveness reduces
resource degradation and subsequent loss or "waste"
7. The C2CN recognises that a period of transition
is likely to be required during which eco-efficiency is replaced
by eco-effectiveness, but that an ambition to achieve eco-effectiveness
is necessary in the present to sit above goals and targets to
reduce negative effects upon our environment.
How can governance arrangements for sustainable
development in Government be improved, and how can sustainability
reporting by Government departments be made more transparent and
8. Governance arrangements need to reflect and
support a move towards an eco-effective approach. The work of
the C2CN project is split into four "themes"; industry,
area spatial development, build and governance. Conclusions drawn
from the governance strand of the C2CN project which will help
to inform how governance arrangements may be developed to support
an eco-effective approach will shortly be available from our Belgian
partner. Initial indications suggest that partnering between customers
and suppliers and between individuals in communities will be required
to facilitate eco-effectiveness i.e. to establish material partnership
communities. Partnering between designer and end user in the context
of building, industry and spatial development is essential. Governance
structures must facilitate the design of products, buildings and
processes including spatial development that is energy positive.
(i.e. generating more energy than is consumed). They also need
to be "diversity positive" and contribute to biodiversity
and social and cultural diversity rather than reduce it. In all
situations governance structures need to facilitate the creation
of beneficial environmental and social impact rather than simply
reducing negative impacts. Metrics need to be devised to monitor
movement in this direction.
9. Governance structures should bring parties
together to adopt, promote and showcase good practice and emulate
success in eco-effective design. They should stimulate innovation
in design, spread information and awareness and encourage growth
in this area. Ultimately an eco-effective heritage will only result
when individuals, communities, businesses and other organisations
embrace this concept and work together towards eco-effective implementation
in all aspects of their lives.
How, without the assistance of the SDC, will the
Government be able to demonstrate that it is "the greenest
10. To be the "greenest government ever"
requires a new and more positive, proactive approach to our interaction
with our environment. This could be achieved by placing emphasis
in policy-making and operations across Government departments
on the C2C approach of being good (eco-effective) instead of simply
less bad (eco-efficient) and promoting the importance of this
approach through incentives and benefits for those in all sectors
who make headway in moving towards eco-effectiveness.
11. Whenever, and wherever possible, principles
which support an eco-effective approach should be considered such
as "waste is food" (everything should exist as either
a biological or technological "nutrient" for something
else, reused within continuous loops), direct use of current solar
income and celebrating diversity (using healthy ecosystems as
a model for human society - encouraging bio, cultural and functional
diversity at a range of different scales).
12. The C2C ® principles discussed above
have been interpreted and supplemented with other principles based
on local conditions and interests. This has led to the development
of the Hanover Principles for the World Expo in 2000, and the
Almere and Limburg Principles, developed by provincial governments
in the Netherlands. The Limburg principles are;
- We are native to our place.
- Our waste is our food.
- The sun is our income.
- Our air, soil and water are healthy.
- We design enjoyment for all generations; and.
- We provide enjoyable mobility for all.
The development of similar principles for the UK,
across government departments and/or development of local principles
for UK regions would demonstrate an ambition to move towards eco-effectiveness
and a real "sustainable" approach.
13 October 2010