Written evidence submitted by the Sustainable
Development Commission |
In fulfilling its remit, the Sustainable Development
Commission (SDC) has advised on and advocated for improvements
across priority areas of Government's business, and reported on
its progress. Drawing on extensive experience gained over 10 years,
the SDC has identified four criteria for any new sustainable development
(SD) arrangements in Government; Governance Arrangements, Mechanisms,
Capability Building and Engagement (see Figure A, Section
1.3 below for further detail). These must be addressed if Government
is to mainstream SD in its business, demonstrate leadership by
example, and live up to its laudable ambition of being the "Greenest
- 1. Governance arrangements must
be put in place to drive SD through leadership, strategy, structures
and scrutiny. They should also encourage innovation, long-term
thinking and ensure effective cross-departmental working.
- Political Leadership
-There is a need for political leadership from the very top of
Government. Ideally, the lead for sustainable development should
be the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister or Cabinet Office
Minister with support from a cabinet committee which has a clear
remit on SD and access to impartial, expert advice. SD could feature
prominently in the remit of an existing Cabinet Committee, with
Government setting out how any such arrangement would ensure that
SD becomes an organising principle for the development of Government
policy, rather than a "bolt on" afterthought.
- Strategy and Vision
- Government urgently needs to bring together departments, local
authorities, civil society and business under a refreshed and
inspiring vision of sustainability for the future that will retain
and strengthen the UK's position as a SD leader on the world stage.
Any strategy must be explicit in how Government's economic, social
and environmental activities are mutually reinforcing, and set
out how an improved quality of life within environmental limits
can be achieved, both in the short and longer-terms.
- Governance Structures
- Governance structures should be reviewed to ensure that any
bodies responsible for overseeing policy and operational performance
are aligned and well co-ordinated to ensure effective and efficient
delivery of agreed government goals for SD. Operational performance
should explicitly help support and drive national policy ambitions.
These bodies must also have clear remits and agendas covering
the areas for which each is responsible, and be given appropriate
levers and mechanisms to make effective change on cross-Government
- Scrutiny - Government
must have an independent scrutiny/assurance function which is
informed by robust evidence, developed in part through ongoing
challenge which necessitates close and regular liaison with Government
officials. Reporting on progress must be transparent and provide
Parliament and the public with a comprehensible overview of progress.
Independent, well- informed scrutiny is essential, not only for
Government's credibility on the SD agenda, but also to challenge
departments and drive improvements in priority areas.
- 2. Mechanisms must
be established that enable Government to deliver its commitments
set out in the SD vision and strategy.
- Performance Management
Frameworks - Currently Government is lacking an agreed
holistic set of standards, indicators, targets or explicit goals
against which it, and others, can measure impacts, performance
and progress towards agreed pan-Government outcomes.
- Delivery Plans and Tools
- All public bodies need agreed plans which demonstrate how they
will contribute to mainstreaming and delivering SD. SD must be
embedded in all decision-making tools and processes for both its
policy and operations. Examples include the Green Book, Impact
Assessments, SD indicators, Business and Structural Reform Plans
and environmental management systems (EMS). To date progress has
been inconsistent and there is a risk that ongoing work (e.g.
understanding impacts through the Green Book) will not go far
enough in SD terms.
- Monitoring and Reporting
- Government must ensure that there is a timely and transparent
process for reporting progress against agreed performance management
frameworks for all elements of public sector business - policy
and operations - and that it provides easily understood information
and progress reports for the public.
All the above mechanisms must be applied consistently
across the three thematic areas of Operations and Procurement,
People and Policy. Furthermore, SD mechanisms must be co-ordinated
and driven centrally in order to make the most efficient use of
- 3. Capability building
- Government will need a systematic approach to incorporating
capability building into all aspects and levels of SD in Government
- leadership, civil service skills, systems and procedures and
tools to ensure the continuous improvement and efficiency of performance.
This would need to be driven from a central focal point to ensure
oversight, prioritisation and also the efficient use of Government-wide
resources. Current practice, where each department largely pursues
its own agenda with little sharing of resources, activities and
benefits, is not as effective or efficient as possible. It is
key to identify core competences for the various stages of decision-making
and policy development; the civil service staffing hierarchy;
and various business functions (e.g. HR and Procurement).
The central focal point for Capability Building would
need a means by which it can assess which departments' learning
needs might best be met through centralised initiatives. These
could include a range of learning interventions making best use
of available resources which might require bespoke support for
particular departments, or identifying which learning needs could
be dealt by the department itself.
- 4. Engagement of
business, civil society, wider public sector and international
bodies is vital to encourage dialogue, debate and decision-making
to improve Government policies and provide independent, expert
advice to decision-makers. Government must therefore ensure it
has arrangements in place for ongoing engagement in order to:
- Inform domestic policy as well as influence the
European and international agenda.
- Share best practice and learn from international
- Act as a focal point and sounding board for those
organisations needing advice and guidance on specific areas of
SD relevant to their organisation's aims. This will become increasingly
important as a means for supporting Big Society initiatives as
they start to gather momentum. It is also a critical part of the
preparations for the Earth Summit.
To sum up, the previous Government made some progress
on mainstreaming SD in a number of areas. However, given that
the new Government has made a clear commitment to be the Greenest
Government Ever, it not only needs to ramp up its ambition on
operations and think beyond its estate boundaries and carbon;
it should also ensure that SD permeates all aspects of its business,
particularly its policy development. This document builds on the
SDC's experience and findings to date, highlights issues and risks
and sets out a number of next steps for the consideration of the
1.1. The SDC
The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) is the
Government's independent adviser on sustainable development (SD),
reporting to the Prime Minister, the First Ministers of Scotland
and Wales and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of
Northern Ireland. Through advocacy, advice and appraisal, we help
put sustainable development at the heart of Government policy.
Following the statement by the Secretary of State
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 22 July 2010 stating
that Government wants "to mainstream sustainability, strengthen
the Government's performance in this area and put processes in
place to join-up activity across Government much more effectively",
the SDC's funding has been withdrawn by Defra, effective from
31 March 2011.
1.2. Greenest Government Ever
Government's commitment to be the "Greenest
Government Ever" is a very positive step. However, it is
not clear to what exactly the Government is committing, and what
aspects of Government business it encompasses. Government must
offer a clear definition of the "Greenest Government"
in order to be credible.
In the view of the SDC, being a green Government
and being a sustainable Government are one and the same. The SDC
would recommend that Government defines its ambition to be the
most sustainable Government ever. This will enable Government
to be a leader in operations in the short term, without jeopardising
long term performance. Government should seek to improve not only
its operational impacts (e.g. carbon performance as well as water,
waste, biodiversity and procurement), but also to optimise the
sustainability of the social side of its operations (e.g. volunteering,
diversity and local employment), the awareness and skills of its
people and the impacts of all its policy.
An initial step for the Government in achieving its
goals to be the "greenest ever" and to "mainstream
sustainability" will be to establish the right SD architecture.
The key components of sustainable development architecture for
Government are outlined in Section 1.3 below and discussed in
greater depth in Section 2.
1.3. SD Architecture
- For Government to put sustainable development
into practice it must put in place a robust and systemic structure
which sparks leadership from the top, enables delivery and provides
accountability to the public. SD architecture of Government can
be split into four criteria; "Governance Arrangements"
and "Mechanisms" to ensure a sustainable development
approach is taken in Government policy and operations. While "Capability
Building" and "Engagement" are inherent activities
throughout the SD architecture, they are vital functions in mainstreaming
SD and as such must also be considered separately.
- Governance arrangements provide the leadership
and direction required to drive the sustainability agenda and
also provide accountability for progress. They consist of:
- Strategy and Vision.
- Political Leadership and Governance Structures.
- Scrutiny and Democratic Accountability.
Mechanisms are approaches which, if followed, can
help deliver the commitments set by Government on sustainable
development. The following mechanisms are key to successful delivery
and should be applied to the thematic areas of Operations &
Procurement, People and Policy:
- Performance Management Frameworks.
- Delivery Plans and Tools.
- Monitoring and Reporting.
The component parts of the SD architecture are a
practical application for any new SD arrangements and must be
considered together. The governance arrangements establish the
parameters for Government's action on SD as a whole, leading to
the set of mechanisms to be used across the public sector to deliver
outcomes. A feedback loop of performance information to the governance
level drives continuous improvement and democratic accountability.
This is shown in Figure A which outlines the four criteria and
component parts for SD architecture.
Figure A - Sustainable Development in
Government - Architecture
This document refers to Government as Central Government,
which consists of Central Government Departments, Executive Agencies,
Non-Departmental Public Bodies and Non-Ministerial Departments.
However, in order to successfully achieve sustainable outcomes,
SD must also be embedded into sub-national governance which has
significant cumulative impacts; for example, Local Enterprise
Partnerships, local authorities, Local Strategic Partnerships,
parish councils, local community groups and Primary Care Trusts.
The next section (Section 2) explores SD architecture
in more detail and discusses key principles, achievements by the
SDC and Government, any issues and risks and the way forward for
Annex A explores the benefits (including financial
benefits) from sustainable operations. Annex B highlights the
SDC's key achievements. Annex C discusses the key priorities for
Government in taking SD forward over the life of Parliament.
2. CRITERIA AND
2.1. Governance Arrangements
2.1.1. Strategy and Vision
Definition: A pan-Government
high level statement of principles and priorities for sustainable
- A vision that sets out Government's aims of freedom,
fairness and responsibility for the long-term, sets out how it
will achieve better and mutually reinforcing social, economic
and environmental outcomes for the UK, and provides a central
organising principle through which all policy and operational
activities is viewed to limit adverse effects and maximise efficiency.
- A clear set of principles and priorities that
will enable an improved quality of life within environmental limits
to be achieved, and which brings together statements of Government
action with that of business, civil society and local Government
to achieve combined action for the UK domestically and internationally.
- The publication of Securing the Future,
the UK Sustainable Development Strategy in 2005 led to a number
- A renewed Government commitment to SD was adopted
by the whole of the UK and a strengthened for the SDC as Government's
watchdog on sustainable development.
- The Strategy set out the five principles of sustainable
development which would be the framework for all action and decision-making.
The five principles are shown in Figure B.
- The Strategy focused the efforts of departments
in improving their performance and progress on sustainability
via the Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE)
Framework and the Sustainable Development Action Plan (SDAP) process.
- Groups and networks formed to share best practice
and innovative approaches to improving as a result of the Strategy's
- The Welsh Assembly Government is one of only
a few Governments in the world to have a statutory duty with regard
and in 2009 it made a commitment to make sustainable development
the "central organising principle" of Government in
Wales in its One Wales: One Planet Strategy.
Figure B - The Five Principles of Sustainable
- Without an up-to-date strategy or statement on
SD the UK's reputation internationally as a leader on SD could
be called into question, particularly in light of the upcoming
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 (following
on from the Earth Summit at Rio in 1992), and other international
developments (e.g. France's new SD Strategy and the revision of
the EU's SD Strategy in 2011).
- A vision or strategy on SD must be owned by Government
as a whole with high-level leadership from the Prime Minister
and all departments in order to put it into practice. Defra and
DECC's leadership on SD must reinforce this or run the risk of
it being regarded as only the business of these two departments
and potentially relegated to solely environmental concerns.
- A "greening" agenda which focuses simply
on carbon or the environment risks ignoring many other key challenges
facing the world e.g. social cohesion and fairness, the transition
to a more sustainable economy, enabling more sustainable lives
and shaping sustainable places.
- In order to take the lead on SD and achieve its
goal of being the "Greenest Government Ever" while meetings
its ambitions on fairness, Government needs to bring together
departments, local authorities, civil society and business under
a refreshed and inspiring vision of sustainability for the future
that will retain and strengthen the UK's position as a leader
on the world stage and will set out a narrative on how an improved
quality of life within environmental limits can be obtained. The
SDC believes that the five principles of SD are still valid and
useful and these need to be confirmed or updated as part of a
reinvigorated strategy that should prepare the UK for the UN Conference
in 2012 and beyond, as well as to set out what mainstreaming SD
means in practice.
2.1.2. Political Leadership and Governance Structures
Definition: The structures,
roles and responsibilities required to deliver a sustainable development
strategy, to manage performance and make decisions.
- A formal lead for SD, who is accountable for
the delivery of SD, must be identified at the very top of Government.
- A high level group of Ministers must be set up
to oversee the delivery of a refreshed SD strategy. Any governance
structures must have clear and transparent lines of responsibility
which show exactly who is responsible for agreed commitments,
how delivery will be carried out and how progress will be reported.
- Appropriate levers for change must be identified
and assigned to leaders to improve whole Government and cross-departmental
- Senior leaders must provide support and guidance
for those below to deliver more sustainable outcomes and enable
any individual to take a leadership role in championing SD.
- In response to the SDC's recommendations from
the Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) 2007 report,
Government set up the Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Procurement
(CESP) to act as the delivery body for the sustainable operations
and procurement agenda. CESP in turn improved the governance arrangements
for SD in Government by creating additional groups to discuss
sustainable operations and procurement issues. See Operations
and Procurement section for further details.
- As recommended by the SDC, all Permanent Secretaries
have Government's operations and procurement targets in their
- During the last administration, a cabinet sub-committee
was set up dedicated to SD; this was the cabinet committee for
Energy and Environment, sub-committee Sustainable Development
(EE(SD)). The terms of reference for the group were "to improve
the Government's contribution to SD through the conduct of its
business, including through consideration of departmental sustainable
development action plans; and to report as necessary to the Committee
on Energy and the Environment."
- There is a risk in not having appropriate governance
structures and leadership to drive direction, decisions and accountability.
Leadership for SD has been inconsistent and there has been a lack
of authority to bring together disparate parts of Government and
properly drive delivery of the SD strategy. In particular:
- During the last administration, SD Ministers
were nominated for every Department to act as the ministerial
lead on SD for each department and a network was set up led by
a Defra minister to enable this group to meet and discuss SD issues.
Despite efforts by Defra the lack of a clear mandate for the group
and mechanisms to enact change meant that it failed to meet regularly
and never got off the ground.
- In a cabinet reshuffle, EE(SD) was lost and SD
become a part of the remit of the Cabinet committee for Economic
Development, sub-committee Environment and Energy (EE(ED)). This
created a risk of wider sustainability issues becoming secondary
to economic interests by top-level decision-makers.
- Government has had mixed success in embedding
SD into policy and decision-making processes. This is partly due
to weak governance arrangements. The Sustainable Development Programme
Board (SDPB) and Sustainable Development Policy Working Group
(SDPWG) have suffered from a lack of clear remit and have failed
to organise coordinated initiatives to improve the tools and practices
available to departments.
- Given the magnitude of the issues being dealt
with, leadership for SD should be assigned to the level of Prime
Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or, at a minimum, a minister in
the Cabinet Office to ensure a pan-Government approach to SD.
On the departmental level, the lead for SD should be expanded
beyond Defra and DECC to include social policy departments such
- This high-level leadership should be supported
by a cabinet committee and must have a clear agenda for SD and
be given appropriate levers and mechanisms to make effective change
on cross-Government issues. This cabinet committee must have access
to independent expert advice, must have clear links into Government
decision-making processes and must have all major departments
represented including HMT.
- Governance structures should be reviewed to ensure
that any bodies responsible for overseeing policy and operational
performance are aligned and well co-ordinated to ensure effective
and efficient delivery of agreed government goals for SD. In particular,
the remits and membership of SDPB and SDPWG must be reviewed to
improve focus on high priority subjects/initiatives by making
clear what each group is trying to achieve and to make them fit
for purpose in embedding SD principles into policy and decision-making.
- To drive change as has happened on operations,
Permanent Secretaries' and Ministers' appraisal objectives should
include ones on SD policy (not just operations) as they relate
to departmental Structural Reform Plans or Business Plans.
2.1.3. Scrutiny and Democratic Accountability
Definition: Third party
independent analysis, assessment and feedback to Government, business
and civil society.
- Government must be held to account for its performance
on SD, the outcomes, the decisions it makes and the way it works.
- Analysis and assessment must be carried out by
an independent body in close liaison with Government officials,
and must be based on previously agreed milestones and commitments
to ensure there is consistency.
- Scrutiny must be transparent and made available
to the public.
- Provide Government (in particular any new group
of Ministers) with impartial expert policy advice to develop robust
action plans that take long-term consequences into account.
- The establishment of the Sustainable Development
Commission (SDC) in 2000 to act as the Government's independent
advisor and "critical friend" was a major milestone.
The SDC's remit was strengthened to include the formal scrutiny
"watchdog" function in 2005.
- The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has provided
parliamentary scrutiny on SD since 1997.
- The NAO has undertaken specific audits on sustainability,
particularly on operations and procurement.
These three "SD Scrutineers" have worked
together to provide effective scrutiny of Government and Departments.
Each serves a different function, but worked together to complement
each other's work programmes while at the same time ensuring that
an understanding evolves that reflects changing circumstances
and changing departmental capability. For example, the SDC and
the NAO (at the behest of the EAC) worked in partnership to develop
the assessment framework for a Departmental Sustainability Assessment
(DSA) of the Department for Works and Pensions. Whilst the NAO
was not involved in the actual assessment, its expertise proved
invaluable in driving this pilot project forward.
- Of the three SD Scrutineers, the SDC provides
the broadest coverage of sustainability issues. When the SDC ceases,
the quality of SD scrutiny - and therefore the level of democratic
accountability - will diminish unless this is accounted for in
any new arrangements.
- Unique to SDC's role was the function of capability
building. This function is at risk of being lost when the SDC
ceases, as neither the EAC nor NAO have these competences and
are therefore not currently capable of providing this type of
support and assistance. See Capability Building section for further
- Scrutiny requires more than occasional analysis
and reporting. Proper understanding of the ongoing challenges
of SD is gained by daily interaction and liaison with practitioners
and senior officials, by providing ad hoc advice and by responding
to formal consultations. This enables change before final decisions
are made, informs formal scrutiny and reporting and increases
the ability to get Government to respond to findings. Without
robust engagement, scrutiny is weakened. However, there is a risk
that relationships with parts of Government can be strained by
critical scrutiny. This can make the role of Government's critical
friend difficult, which is why ongoing interaction with practitioners
and senior officials is such an important part of any scrutiny
- Under the new arrangements for SD, it has been
proposed that the EAC is given an enhanced role to provide scrutiny.
It is not clear how this enhanced role would work or how it is
to be supported. However, the SDC would recommend that it include:
- Independent assessment of Government's own operational
activities and operational delivery plan.
- Ongoing assessment of draft and final of organisational
delivery plans for SD.
- Scrutiny of Government's arrangements for policy
development and for assessing impacts.
- Commentaries on the adequacy of governance arrangements.
- Commentary on how well SD is being driven through
the skill development of civil servants.
- Access to independent expertise on SD.
- A capability building function for SD either
directly within the EAC or supported by a SD body for capability
building elsewhere in Government.
2.2.1. Performance Management Frameworks
Definition: An agreed
holistic set of standards, indicators, targets or explicit goals
against which to measure impacts, performance and progress towards
agreed high level outcomes.
- A systems approach that considers all aspects
of Government business and reflects the interplay of different
impacts so as to effectively manage performance and achieve goals.
- In designing a Performance Management Framework
the indicators and measures of progress should:
- Add up to the high level goal/statement/priority.
- Be agreed with the relevant scrutineers.
- Be meaningful to the public.
- Any framework must be designed to improve the
level of democratic accountability and transparency.
- The Sustainable Development Indicators have been
useful measures of progress against sustainability commitments
to date. Government reports annually on the entire indicator set
and a summary "basket" of indicators. These indicators
have been very useful in terms of the promotion and awareness
raising of sustainable development. For example, there has been
considerable take up of the publications by education institutions
as educational resources, and the indicators have helped to clarify
the breadth of SD beyond simply the environment, and to home in
on specific issues, e.g. poverty and life satisfaction. This set
of indicators is now being revised by the SDC, Defra, the Office
for National Statistics (ONS) and the Cabinet Office.
- The Sustainable Operations on the Government
Estate (SOGE) Framework has driven significant progress on Government's
operations and procurement activity with progress reports made
publically available through annual SDC reports. (See Operations
and Procurement section for further details).
- The Sustainable Procurement Task Force's Flexible
Framework provided Government with agreed measures for progressing
on the sustainability of their procurement activity which has
driven performance. (See Operations and Procurement section for
- The SDC has acted as an advisor in the development
of each of these Performance Management Frameworks.
The introduction of Carbon Budgets in the Climate Change Act 2008
represents a significant step in assigning an environmental limit
to government decisions and policy. The framework and process
for carbon budgets has been set up to deliver carbon budgets targets
and should be monitored for effectiveness.
- Some things are hard to measure, for example
well-being. The measurement of well-being will be a key issue
in a future performance management framework. On well-being (which
the SDC views as being synonymous with quality of life), the SDC
agrees with the assertion of the Stiglitz Commission that appropriate
measures can provide a current status report, but have very limited
use in understanding the potential for future well-being or sustainable
development. Sustainable development is inherently forward-looking,
requiring information about the future as well as the present.
- Better measures of progress are needed to drive
improvements in operational performance and policy development/implementation.
- The SDC recommends that any new indicator set
to measure well-being must sit within a wider sustainable development
- The SDC supports the idea of reporting through
a "dashboard" of aggregated indicators which can effectively
convey a high level measure of progress. However, a dashboard
cannot tell the whole story, so the high-level indicators must
also be disaggregated to an appropriate level to show, for example,
the distributional effect across social grade, ethnicity, age,
level of deprivation, gender, income, and whether the social and
environmental footprint is positive or negative.
- Government should seek to develop performance
management frameworks for policy, operations and people as a package
of measures that when combined drive improvements in Government's
2.2.2. Delivery Plans and Tools
of intent by an organisation explaining how it will contribute
to achieving a pan-Government vision on SD through specific actions
within a prescribed timeframe across Operations and Procurement,
People and Policy and the tools it will use to achieve this.
A Delivery Plan should:
- Set out clear objectives to be achieved in the
time period that the Plan covers and which are supported by specific,
measurable, accountable, realistic and time-related actions to
allow effective measuring and reporting.
- Have actions that cover the totality of an organisation's
business, i.e. its operations and procurement activity, its people
(e.g. Human Resources, workforce management policies) and its
policies and decision-making processes.
- Be integrated into business planning processes
and support longer-term goals.
- Include clear governance arrangements and monitoring
and reporting processes.
- Be publically available and publicly reported
- Support all officials to make more sustainable
choices in their everyday jobs, driving more sustainable outcomes.
- Be integrated with SD.
The SDC has supported all Government departments
over the past five years in developing Sustainable Development
Action Plans (SDAPs), and SDAP progress reports. SDAPs are delivery
plans which enable departments to become more sustainable organisations
across each and every area of their business. The SDC has done
this through: developing and communicating the SDAP cycle (see
Figure C), the production of guidance materials,
delivering workshops, advising on the content and ambition of
draft Plans, assessing final published Plans and scrutinising
The SDC has had a full-time dedicated resource to this process
since 2006. There are currently ten Government departments with
current SDAPs, four without current SDAPs, four SDAPs at a draft
stage and one department which has discontinued the process.
Figure C - The SDAP Cycle
The quality and ambition levels of these plans have
increased over the past five years, and they have helped to raised
awareness and understanding of sustainable development across
There are two examples where organisations have begun
to look beyond the SDAP process to more fully integrate sustainable
development into their organisational business: the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office (FCO) which over the past year has focussed
attention on integrating SD into its business planning processes
through department-wide engagement processes; and the Driving
Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) which took the decision not to
produce a SDAP for 2009-10 but to produce a single Business Plan/SDAP
i.e. a "sustainable" Business Plan.
The existence of tools to support departments in
the delivery of their SDAPs and thereby implementing the actions
for SD has enabled significant progress to be made on SD. Specific
tools for operations and procurement, people and policies can
be found in the relevant sections of this evidence paper.
In implementing Carbon Budgets, DECC has prepared
guidance and provided support to other departments to enable departmental
Carbon Reduction Delivery Plans which detail the actions a department
will take towards fulfilling its carbon budget. Defra has also
provided guidance and support to other departments for departmental
Climate Change Adaptation Plans. The SDC provided advice and guidance
to both DECC and Defra on their respective climate change planning
- Delivery plans and tools should be designed to
help practitioners carry out their work on policy, people and
operations and procurement more effectively and more sustainably.
SD should be mainstreamed into standard tools, which will require
expertise and should be linked to Performance Management Frameworks.
A dedicated source of advice and guidance for departments and
agencies will be important in managing this transition, ideally
via the Cabinet Office, to reinforce SD as a central issue for
- Ensuring that momentum is maintained on the process
of mainstreaming SD into standard tools and processes, and that
mainstreaming is not regarded as complete prematurely are key
issues. The SDC has experienced this in its SDAP work in which
a department produces one or two SDAPs, the process begins to
come to a halt and SD is at risk of being dropped. The SDC's work
in the past five years has sought to ensure that momentum is maintained
and that departments are held to account on the SDAP reporting
requirements, i.e. to be covered by a SDAP at all times and to
report progress annually. It is therefore important that systems
and requirements are in place to ensure that this does not happen
with any future SD planning and reporting processes.
- SDAPs have necessarily been a separate plan of
action for a department as Government began to get to grips with
what SD meant for its business and activities. It has always been
a requirement however, that a SDAP should align with a department's
Business Plan and pan-Government aims and objectives. With the
progress that has been made on SDAPs over the last five years,
the downside to the SDAP as a separate plan to a central business
plan, and one increasingly cited by departments, is that sustainable
development may be regarded as an add-on to existing business
rather than the approach a department uses to deliver its activities.
This now presents an opportunity for Government to define how
sustainability may be more tightly integrated into a department's
business planning cycle.
- The SDC's SDAP guidance and assessment work has
highlighted that a key area requiring attention is departmental
progress on embedding sustainable development into policy-making.
See the Policy section for further information.
- While the forward-looking work carried out by
the FCO and DVLA is not regarded as complete by either organisation,
their experiences could provide useful evidence for where to take
the SDAP work next.
All public bodies need agreed plans which demonstrate
how they will contribute to mainstreaming and delivering SD.
Ultimately the existing SDAP process should no longer
be needed once an organisation has sufficiently embedded sustainability
into all of its plans, processes, people and activities. A
Government-wide transition from separate SDAPs and Business Plans
to just one "sustainable" Business Plan would be a logical
next step for the SDAP process. This approach reduces the burden
on departments in that they produce one single plan that demonstrates
the focus of their business in the years ahead and how they intend
to make SD the organising principle for all future departmental
strategies and plans.
The SDC recommends the following for undertaking
- The SD practitioners within the organisation
work with the business planning divisions to create the sustainable
- SD practitioners retain a separate list of sustainable
development actions/activity to ensure a measured transition.
- The quality and ambition levels of existing SDAPs
are highly varied across Government. Where departments have not
yet implemented the basic requirements of the SDAP process, it
may be more appropriate for them to continue with the SDAP process,
with a view to advancing to the "Sustainable Business Plan"
in the near future. If so, the SDAP should set out a plan for
The monitoring of this transition should be conducted
by a central body, such as the Cabinet Office, and should provide
assurance that the transition is progressing and that sustainability
messages are not being lost in the process.
2.2.3. Monitoring and Reporting
Definition: A streamlined
and timely process of reporting progress against performance management
frameworks for all elements of public sector business strategically
and which provides transparency for the public.
- Effective monitoring systems must be in place
to gather information in a timely and efficient way.
- Reporting of data must be transparent and accessible,
allowing others to hold Government to account for its performance
against policy and operations commitments/goals.
- The ambition must be for better, more simplified
reporting, integrating SD and focusing on outcomes while minimising
the reporting burden on departments and other organisations.
- SDiG - Operations and procurement has arguably
been the most successful part of the SD agenda in Government.
Started as the Greening Government programme by the EAC, the Sustainable
Development in Government (SDiG) report and process has been successful
in turning pan-Government performance from "poor performance"
to either being or nearly being "on track". Key to this
success has been the role of the SDC in undertaking independent
assessment of performance and producing the SDiG report with recommendations,
the majority of which have been accepted and implemented by Government.
Responsibility for data collection has been a success in capability
building terms to the extent that it has now been handed back
to Government who recently began real time reporting on operational
performance (e.g. energy consumption in buildings). For further
details see Operations and Procurement section.
- SDAPs Progress Reports - Securing the Future
committed departments and executive agencies to produce Sustainable
Development Action Plans (SDAPs) and report progress against them
regularly. To facilitate this, the SDC produced a progress reporting
tool for organisations, and worked closely with practitioners
to understand how to record and report progress on actions and
impacts. The SDC scrutinised the first round of SDAP Progress
Reports and provided detailed feedback to departments. The SDC
also monitors and tracks departmental progress in the SDAP process
to maintain public accountability. For further details see Delivery
Plans and Tools section.
- HMT Sustainability Reporting - This Treasury-led
initiative is an excellent step towards integrated reporting.
It will require all public sector organisations to report information
relating to sustainability performance in annual reports, which
should also lead to improved performance management in relation
to sustainability. By using a format which covers both financial
and non-financial performance, it is hoped that the cost benefits
of embedding sustainability is more visible. A dry-run is currently
underway with Central Government departments before expanding
to all public bodies.
- There is risk of a proliferation of reporting
mechanisms on sustainability which places an onerous burden on
departments and ties up valuable resources which could otherwise
be used to improve performance and deliver more sustainable outcomes.
- The SDC - through advice to departments and membership
on various governance and working groups - has worked across Government
to identify synergies between reporting mechanisms, to avoid any
unnecessary duplication of effort or conflicts. Without the SDC
undertaking this function, there is a risk that the quality and
efficiency of reporting on sustainability will decline.
- Without effective monitoring and reporting systems
in place it is impossible for Government to assess performance
against targets and policy goals, to plan strategically, and stake
its leadership on sustainability claims (e.g. the Greenest Government).
- To date, monitoring of the sustainability impacts
of a department's policies has been conducted through the Public
Service Agreement/Departmental Strategic Objectives process, the
SD Indicators and to a lesser degree through the Sustainable Development
Action Plan (SDAP) process - all of these are currently in doubt.
Clarity on how these impacts will be monitored in the future is
- The historic role of the SDC in identifying overlaps
and synergies between reporting mechanisms must be replicated
to ensure integrated sustainability reporting, to reduce the reporting
burden on departments and to embed sustainability in core reporting.
- With the removal of the last administration's
Public Service Agreement framework, a better system for reporting
on the impact of public policy is required. The revised set of
SD indicators could form the basis of such a performance management
system. See Performance Management Framework section for further
2.2.4. Operations and Procurement
Definition: Ensuring that
all aspects of Government operations and procurement are carried
out in the most cost effective way with minimal impact on the
environment and in support of our common social needs for a prosperous,
healthy and just society, both on and off the Government estate.
- Increasing the sustainability of Government operations
and procurement increases Government's authority on SD by demonstrating
that it is "getting its own house in order" in terms
of how it functions and how it spends public money.
- Leadership - demonstrating and refining the tools
that Government is promoting in its policy to reduce adverse sustainability
- Given the scale of public sector impact and its
purchasing power, Government has role to play in making progress
towards policy goals by changing its operational and procurement
- Impacts can be both direct and indirect. They
include but are not limited to the management of carbon emissions
(including energy efficiency & travel), natural resource protection
(including water, waste, recycling & biodiversity), health
& safety, resource/supply demand, and all associated policies.
- By 2008-09, the Sustainable Operations on the
Government Estate (SOGE) framework of targets had helped Government
improve its energy efficiency by 7.9%; to reduce carbon emissions
from offices by 10% and from administrative vehicles by 17%; to
reduce waste by 13.7% and water use by 19.9%; and to increase
recycling by 48.4% against their respective baselines.
- While exact figures do not exist, and with some
heavy caveats in place, the value of the benefits from better
management of carbon, energy, travel, waste and water in 2008-09
can be estimated to lie somewhere between £62.3 million and
£66.1 million (see Annex A).
- Based on these figures, over the course of the
current Parliament, it is possible that these savings will add
up to between £300 million and £330 million in savings,
assuming no new initiatives are undertaken, and that Government
does not lose ground on the savings already made due to the unexpected
consequences of new Government policies and initiatives.
- As the new target framework for operations and
procurement (formerly SOGE) has not been formally adopted, Government
has made no commitment to a targeted reduction of the impacts
of its operations and procurement beyond the 12 month 10% carbon
- This risks Government losing momentum towards
increased sustainability, potentially losing ground on the savings
already made and losing credibility with non-Government stakeholders
it is trying to influence to act in more sustainable ways.
- Currently operations and procurement are largely
seen as separate issues from each other, which can result in the
impacts of Government operations being shifted off the estate
without taking action to reduce them in real terms.
- The SD impacts of operations and procurement
can only be effectively managed if embedded in performance management
frameworks, tools and monitoring/reporting.
- The best two tools for achieving improved operations
and procurement are behaviour change programmes and adopting more
sustainable procurement practices which take into account the
impacts of the supply chain and which include the often more significant
indirect impacts of Government operations.
- Sustainable procurement programmes begin with
resource demand management, and go on to include supplier engagement
on supply chain and life cycle issues, encouraging use of best-in-class
pre-approved suppliers, and, where appropriate, rationalising
procurement contracts across departments to gain better value
- Currently there is no coherent system in place,
so it is important to focus attention to driving and incentivising
effective demand management and to building on previous initiatives.
- To support transparency and direction of travel,
Government must provide clear direction to all public sector organisations
on how and what they should be reporting against, where appropriate
targets should be set, and how to avoid letting the focus on one
area such as climate change, cause perverse incentives that damage
efforts to make other areas of Government operations and procurement
- Given Government's aim to reduce the national
deficit over a number of years, Government should formally acknowledge
that payback periods for many resource management projects, such
as energy, water and waste, make financial sense (although this
should not divert attention from the wider social and environmental
SD benefits that are often harder to quantify financially).
- Government should ensure that there is more cross-departmental
coordination of operations and procurement to obtain better value
for money, more efficient use of shared resources and increased
capability through shared learning.
- Supplier engagement should be better monitored,
and therefore optimised, by using a cross-Government management
system such as CAESER ( www.caeser.org)
which is currently being trialled by the Home Office, HMRC and
the Welsh Assembly Government (with discussions underway with
DWP, MoD & Defra).
- Government needs to continue to build a clear
understanding of the state of its estate in order to identify
the real potential for improved efficiencies through operations
Definition: Ensuring that
all aspects of Government's staffing and human resources policies
are carried out in the most cost effective way with minimal impact
on the environment and in support of our common social needs for
a prosperous, healthy and just society, both on and off the Government
estate. Specifically, the development of departmental tools and
processes to ensure that all staff have the awareness, understanding,
training and skills to be able to apply SD principles in all aspects
of their work, and in the wider community.
- Government (through departments) must embed SD
principles into competency frameworks, tools and processes, including
recruitment procedures, in order to:
- Establish a working culture that recognises diversity
and equality, supports a flexible working environment where appropriate,
and promotes learning and development opportunities.
- Develop an understanding and awareness which
generates more sustainable outputs from each department, so that
Government as a whole, via for example, policy-makers, uses its
understanding of SD to generate more sustainable policy that avoids
trade-offs between economic, social and environmental issues.
- Awards for Individual Activity on Sustainability
Some key examples include the Sustainability
in DWP (SID) awards which encourage staff to use their initiative
and challenge themselves and others to act more sustainably, and
the MOD's Sanctuary Awards in recognition of both individual
and group efforts for projects on MOD land in the UK & overseas.
- HMRC Outreach Programme
HMRC began this particular outreach activity
to ensure that the public fully understood their potential entitlement
to tax credits following research that identified low take up
in certain areas. Internal advertisements were placed for volunteers
(called Outreach Support workers) from the business to go out
to supermarkets, children's centres and community groups to speak
to people in the course of their daily lives.
- Whilst there are certainly elements of good practice,
there is currently no central push to embed an SD approach
in relation to staff (i.e. the integration of SD into staff awareness,
understanding, training and skills and their contribution to the
wider community as individuals, for example, through volunteering).
Some key examples include failure to embed SD principles in, for
example, the Professional Skills for Government (PSfG) framework.
- There is currently a lack of general understanding
on how Government is performing on the "People" side
of sustainability, as well as even a general understanding of
the importance of this area.
- A potential risk in is that the balance between
progress on the "formal" elements (i.e. processes and
frameworks) and the less structured side of this area (i.e. encouragement
of debate on SD, and general awareness raising, etc.) fails to
be sufficiently achieved.
- Cabinet Office must coordinate a centralised
initiative to build on information contained within departmental
Sustainable Development Action Plans (SDAPs) and the existing
knowledge and awareness of SD practitioners within departments
in order to generate a clear picture of progress in this area.
This should be bought together with existing and well developed
progress on the way in which sustainable operations and procurement
are measured to ensure parts of the SD architecture are not considered
- While centralised coordination is vital, departments
must also continue to tailor measures to their own departmental
circumstance and to act themselves.
- The principles of SD should be incorporated into
training and development courses, e.g. on how to make effective
policy. Furthermore National School for Government (NSG) could
take the lead on helping departments prepare training courses
to embed SD into all generic training courses delivered to civil
Definition: The development
and implementation of policy through using the sustainable development
principles in order to enhance the quality and value for money
(VfM) of Government policy and achieve better outcomes for society,
the economy and the environment. This includes analysis, tools
and guidance to help officials take a longer-term, broader-based
approach to policy-making that identifies significant impacts,
unintended consequences, and tackles underlying causes rather
than moderating symptoms.
- Policy and programmes that are developed and
- A systems approach (broad-based, long-term) in
order to understand the risks and impacts across a number of areas
by identifying the linkages between them.
- Determining the most efficient way of delivering
priority outcomes by identifying actions which can deliver multiple
- Investing to reduce the need for future spending
by finding innovative, cross-disciplinary solutions to cross-cutting
issues and to build resilience to future environmental and economic
- A comprehensive evidence base that examines significant
impacts and clearly informs final decision-making.
- There has been increasing recognition within
Government that sustainable development offers a helpful framework
within which to evaluate and manage the costs and benefits of
different policy options, for example:
- The Government Economics Service (GES) review
on the Economics of Sustainable Development that seeks to operationalise
the definition of SD as well as conduct further research into
the measurement of social impacts.
- The establishment of a cross-Government Social
Impacts Task Force to develop a coherent and consistent approach
to the understanding of social impacts and social capital for
use in advising on policy decisions.
- The SDC has conducted a small review on Impact
Assessments (IA) and used the findings to advise Government (the
GES, the Better Regulation Executive (BRE)) on how to improve
the process, as well as Defra on how to improve the SD Specific
Impact Test (SD SIT), as part of the IA process.
In addition, a number of individual departments have
developed their own approach to ensuring sustainable development
is both an input and an outcome of their policy-making. These
have been intended to complement existing processes including
the Green Book and departmental specific policy cycle processes.
- Department for Transport - The New Approach to
Appraisal (NATA) is a framework used to appraise transport projects
and proposals that builds on already well established cost-benefit
analysis and environmental impact assessment techniques.
- Department of Health - a centrally located economist
has been given the remit of supporting colleagues across the department
with carbon and sustainability appraisal.
- Food Standards Agency - has developed its own
tool for measuring the sustainability of policies and programmes
developed through the Impact Assessment process, as well as establishing
mechanisms for monitoring progress.
- There is a risk that future costs will be incurred
as a result of a short term focus, which will result in achievements
which cannot be sustained and policies which clash in delivery
due to silo working.
- Co-ordinated activity to embed SD into policy-making
is beginning to occur via the GES review, the Social Impacts Task
Force (SITF) and the SDC's work on environmental limits. Specific
issues and risks are:
- GES - work is ongoing and needs to be continued
to resolve the issues that the group itself has identified.
- SITF - The aim of the SITF is to produce supplementary
guidance to the Green Book on how to measure and report on social
impacts. However, as this guidance is supplementary, it will be
at risk of simply being ignored.
- Natural Environment - Defra are in the process
of producing a White Paper on the Natural Environment. While this
is a positive step, it may jeopardise a wider sustainable development
approach if this is to replace the most recent SD Strategy (Securing
the Future), as it may not encompass the entirety of the sustainable
- Adequate guidance does not exist to explain how
tools for embedding SD into policy-making should fit together
as a package to create better policies; individually these tools
do not sufficiently enable policy-makers to address sustainable
- The primary focus of processes such as the Green
Book and IAs is on achieving better economic outcomes. While the
Green Book states the importance of considering social and environmental
impacts, including those impacts which cannot be monetised, there
- Not currently a clear idea of how to measure
social capital and how to measure environmental limits.
- A clear priority given to economic outcomes over
social and environmental outcomes.
- A lack of guidance (and expertise) on how to
weigh up monetised alongside non-monetised impacts and recognition
that non-monetised impacts are equally as important. This
results in monetised impacts taking precedence in final decision-making.
- The SD SIT has been revised as part of the BRE's
Review of the entire IA process. It is acknowledged that this
Test is a work in progress and that the work of the GES review
and the SITF will improve the Test in time. However, there is
no mandate for a policy-maker to employ the SD SIT as it currently
stands, and sufficient importance is not placed on the test in
the IA guidance, nor how it should be used in relations to the
other SITs. For example, the SD SIT should be both the initial
test that identifies which SITs should be completed, as well as
the final test which draws together the evidence base and highlights
any significant impacts.
- The individual departmental tools outlined in
the "achievements" section have taken departments so
far but no one tool demonstrates that the totality of a department's
policy-making has fully integrated the principles of SD.
- Defra have committed to "Revise guidance
on Impact Assessments, the Green Book and other policy appraisal
guidance to take account of sustainability and the value of nature"
in their Structural Reform Plan. But as yet, Defra have not taken
any solid steps in advancing this work.
- The SDC has traditionally used its convening
role to help Government work through difficult and cross-cutting
issues which transcend departmental boundaries. With the abolition
of the SDC there is a risk that no such a body will exist with
the expertise to help Government in this way in the future.
- In developing different policies to reduce emissions
in the wider economy in line with carbon budgets, there is a risk
that departments may pursue initiatives which have adverse sustainability
impacts in other areas beyond carbon. Effective scrutiny by a
body not focussed solely on climate change is required to SD-proof
carbon budget actions.
- Further work is required on the Green Book to
ensure social and environmental outcomes are recognised as being
just as important as economic outcomes, and with clear pointers
for policy-makers on the how. The work of the SITF and
the GES will be vital in seeking to embed principles of sustainable
development in the Green Book to maintain momentum on these areas
of work and ensure the findings result in practical methods and
tools that can be used by policy-makers to develop better, more
- Government should agree a cross-Whitehall approach
to policy-making that maps out how the various tools outlined
above should fit together to achieve more sustainable policy outcomes.
In practice this will only succeed if the governance arrangements
for sustainable development are effective at both ministerial
and official levels, with progress properly supported and scrutinised.
- This cross-Government approach should be supported
by individual departmental tools and guidance appropriate to their
individual policy areas.
- The National Audit Office currently undertakes
an annual economic analysis of a sample of IAs. The SDC recommends
that this should be widened to be a sustainability analysis of
IAs building on the SDC's own work in this area.
- Review policy appraisal tools and processes to
enhance the integration of SD.
- Government must prioritise the pressing SD issues
it is seeking to tackle over the life of the current Parliament.
Annex C explores the SDC's 5 areas for priority action. These
areas are Economy, Places, Fairness, Lives and Government.
2.3. Capability Building and Engagement
2.3.1. Capability Building
Definition: How advice,
scrutiny and influence are used to enable civil servants, MPs
and Ministers to contribute to SD in Government, for example,
by supporting good governance, providing analysis, developing
skills and co-developing policy solutions.
- Successful capability building looks for long-term,
broad-based solutions that tackle causes rather than treating
- Working with public servants and ministers to
develop their understanding of SD and how they can use it to increase
the impact and value for money (VfM) of their work.
- Government will need a centrally-coordinated,
systematic approach to incorporating capability building into
all aspects and levels of SD in Government - leadership, civil
service skills, systems & procedures and tools to ensure the
continuous improvement and efficiency of performance.
- The SDC has built understanding on, as well as
tools and skills for, SD including:
- Defra - working to develop a newer and more robust
SOGE Framework of SD targets.
- DH - the SDC has taken an active role, through
embedded SDC staff, in helping to integrate sustainability in
DH policy, assisting with general projects, and also providing
more targeted support for individual policy teams (e.g. health
food, commissioning, policy support unit, health inequalities,
pharmaceuticals, social care).
- NHS - the SDC has also played a significant role
in furthering SD within the NHS, including contributing to the
inception of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit. With investment
from DH, the SDC's Good Corporate Citizenship Assessment Model
(GCC) was launched in February 2006, followed up by a strong programme
of advocacy via publications, events and in-depth working with
NHS organisations. It quickly established itself as the leading
sustainability benchmarking and learning tool, and by September
2010 (in its second version) over 80% of all NHS Trusts had registered
as users (exceeding the 2010-11 target after only six months).
- DfE - Over the period 2004-2010 the UK Department
for Education (responsible for children, young people and schools
in England) entered into a partnership with the SDC, the Government's
advisory body on sustainability issues. SDC advisers were embedded
in the Department to produce ideas that were ambitious for SD
and which also improved the lives of children and young people
- and hence were supportable politically by an education department.
The partnership was highly successful, gaining recognition on
two occasions from the Government as a whole, through its Civil
Service Awards programme.
- The SDC has built the capability of departments
and many executive agencies in designing, delivering and reporting
on SD Action Plans (SDAPs) (see Delivery Plans and Tools section
for further details).
- Capability building covers skills, tools, and
cultural change, all of which require constant work to achieve
alongside embedding SD in the architecture of Government.
- The SDC's very successful capability building
support on operations, procurement and policy making for Government
will cease when it is wound down, leaving no body or team to encourage
departments to work together on their social, environmental and
economic impacts in a cohesive and joined up way.
- The Centre for Expertise in Sustainable Development
(CESP) has historically done some work on capability building
for sustainable operations and procurement, but there is no mandate
for CESP to continue doing this in a broad, cross-cutting way
or to influence policy-making.
- The challenge is to ensure that the gap left
by the closure of the SDC is filled to ensure that departments
are able to grow their knowledge, skills, attitude, behaviour,
culture and leadership to apply SD principles in their core functions,
and to learn from one another (and from outside stakeholders and
other countries) as their practice develops.
- A central Government body such as the Cabinet
Office should be identified to formally incorporate SD into its
capability reviews of Government, and be charged with identifying
where capability building programmes need to be introduced to
fill identified gaps.
is how Government involves others in key SD decisions. It encompasses
a whole spectrum of activities, from communications and consultation,
through to empowering people to make their own decisions.
- Engagement on SD is important as it helps brings
together the necessary stakeholders to improve resource efficiencies,
minimise environmental impacts and support of common social needs
for a prosperous, healthy and just society.
- Government is a key potential influencer on SD
across the UK and internationally. It is therefore crucial that
Government engages fully with a wide variety of interest groups
on a wide variety of SD issues in order to improve awareness,
understanding and practice, and to improve the transparency of
- Therefore, it is important that these stakeholder
(partner/interest) groups are identified and a Government programme
of engagement established.
- Engaging with interest groups will arm Government
with crucial information to feed into its SD decision-making processes,
garnering support while identifying risk and opportunities, and
building transparency around Government efforts.
- Engagement is closely linked to capability building
across the public sector and will help to address the inefficiencies
created by the miscommunication of SD across the sector.
- Done properly, engagement can deepen the understanding
and commitment of both decision-makers and participants (stakeholders,
citizens and consumers) to deliver more sustainable outcomes and
facilitate cost and time savings across the public sector.
- Breaking the holding pattern: a new approach
to aviation policy-making in the UK - brought
together key stakeholders in the aviation and environment sector
to reveal widespread controversy over the basic data on air travel
in the UK.
- Tidal Power - in advising
the Government on the use of tidal power the SDC used a comprehensive
engagement process that included a national opinion poll, and
a series of regional and local deliberative workshops. The stakeholder
engagement consisted of two workshops, which were held in Aberdeen
- The Breakthroughs for the 21st
Century - convened 400 high-level delegates from Government,
business, academia, think tanks and community organisations to
promote and examine 19 ideas for breakthroughs in sustainability.
- Building realistic and workable SD objectives
by drawing in Government and external reference groups throughout
all major projects (e.g. Setting the Table, The Future is Local,
the Big Energy Shift, Sustainable Travel Engaging the Public Sector
- The SDC gives advice to departments and executive
agencies on engaging with stakeholders on drafting Sustainable
Development Action Plans (SDAPs) and on how to use the SDAP to
communicate the SD objectives of these organisations (please see
Delivery Plans and Tools section for further details).
- The SDC has set up an SD Forum, and participates
in expert advisory panels on procurement and SD across Government.
- Without coordination of these engagement efforts
combined with a programme of capacity building, Government will
not be able to maximise the significant opportunities to meet
environmental targets, improve wellbeing and save money, which
an SD perspective brings.
- Inefficient or insufficient engagement risks
stakeholder backlash, uncoordinated messaging, less effective
policy delivery, disparate approaches with conflicting goals,
and ultimately a waste of public funds and central Government's
- Good co-ordination of engagement requires thorough
analysis to ensure a watertight approach: accessing expertise,
building support for policies, informing/improving policies, accessing/assessing
feedback, horizon scanning for future SD risks and proactively
addressing these where appropriate.
- With the next UN Conference on Sustainable Development
(Earth Summit) coming up in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, world attention
will again turn to SD, and the UK Government will need to be able
to demonstrate how it is engaging with key interest groups both
nationally and internationally.
- Government should devise an engagement and capability
building programme for SD.
Annex A - Benefits of Sustainable Operations
COMMITTEE (EAC) INQUIRY
- OCTOBER 2010
Embedding sustainable development across Government
This note seeks to roughly illustrate some of the
reported benefits of more sustainable operations across Government
operations and its estate. The Sustainable Operations on the Government
Estate (SOGE) targets provide the basis for this illustration.
Please note that these benefits may not be directly attributed
to the SOGE framework as other overlapping drivers also apply.
Also note that investment costs to achieve these savings have
not been assessed. The following caveats are also applied to the
assumptions made in this document:
- There has been a slow improvement in Government's
data quality, but there is a lack of transparency over the full
impacts of Government operations and procurement.
- Due to changes in baselines caused by better
quality data and machinery of Government changes, it is not always
possible to discern trends from the data provided across all three
- There is still significant room for improvement
in the scope and quality of reporting.
The SDC refers throughout this note to the cost savings
associated with reductions in carbon. To do this we needed to
apply a price per tonne. The approach to carbon valuation in government
has undergone a major review which concluded in July 2009.
The review recommended a move away from valuation based on the
damages associated with the impacts, and instead using as its
basis, the cost of mitigation; the approach used in this report.
This approach splits emissions into traded and non
traded components. For appraising policies that affect emissions
in sectors covered by the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme
(EU ETS) "the traded price of carbon" is recommended
whereas for policies that affect emissions in sectors not covered
by the EU ETS (the non traded sector) a "non-traded price
of carbon" is used. For example reductions in energy consumption
is split into electricity savings which fall under the traded
emissions sector and gas and fuel consumption which would fall
under the non-traded.
The 2008-09 SOGE data shows a reduction from the
baseline of 288,986 tonnes of CO2 from Government offices.
Applying the carbon pricing methodology to these carbon savings
we can consider the 2008-09 cost savings of Government's progression
towards achieving the SOGE targets. To do this, the percentage
split of energy fuel use has been calculated based on 2008-09
data received from BRE and the baseline data (as per 2007-08).
Table 2.1 details the percentage split of kWh between electricity
and other fossil fuels.
Table 2.1 - Energy use kWh (% split)
||Other Fossil Fuels %
|2008-09 Performance ||37%
From this split we can assume that any reductions in carbon are
a result of the reduction in energy use from fossil fuels rather
than electricity which has steadily increased year on year. The
2008-09 non-traded prices (£/tCO2e) were then
applied to non-traded emissions reductions in order to calculate
the estimated value of savings. Table 2.2 details the estimated
value of the carbon savings and the numbers used in the calculation:
Table 2.2 - Savings in terms of £/t associated
with reductions in carbon from offices
|Item||Non traded sector emissions
|Emissions reductions (2006-07 performance compared to baseline), tCO2
||97,148 t CO2|
|Emissions reductions (2007-08 performance compared to baseline), tCO2
||Reduced by a further 82,030tCO2 to 179,178tCO2
|Emissions reductions (2008-09 performance compared to baseline), tCO2
||Reduced by a further 109,808tCO2 to 288,986tCO2
Assuming a 2009 non-traded carbon price of between £50/tCO2e
and £51/tCO2e, the estimated cost saving from
reduced carbon from offices is set out in Table 2.3 below:
Table 2.3 - Financial savings in estimated based on
the carbon from offices reductions in Table 2.2.
|Year ||Value of Savings
|Total Value of savings to 2009
This is likely to be an underestimation as the reduction in fossil
fuels and therefore the reduction in carbon is offset by the increase
in electricity which has a lower carbon price.
Please note that carbon reductions are achieved through technological,
behavioural and strategic changes. These reductions and the associated
monetary savings should last more than 1 year and therefore the
there will be year on year carbon efficiencies and therefore mitigation
Compared to the total baseline energy consumption, the 2008-09
annual energy consumption (kWh) reduced by 899,972,647kWh. From
the fuel splits detailed in BRE data sources it is possible to
apply an indicative average cost (p/kWh) to estimate monetary
savings from the reduced fuel bills. BERR energy statistics include
average prices by quarter for 2008 of fuels purchased by non-domestic
consumers in the United Kingdom.
This includes the climate change levy and prices of fuels purchased
by manufacturing industry in Great Britain excluding the climate
change levy (the gas and electricity averages calculated using
the non domestic statistics, and oil/solid fuel from the manufacturing
industry statistics). These are averaged over the four 2008 quarters
for an average sized consumer and given in Table 3.1 below:
Table 3.1 - Estimated cost in pence per kilo Watt hour
|Fuel Type||Average Cost (p/kWh)
The total estimated savings based on a 2008 average p/kWh of fuel
types are presented in table 3.2 below:
Table 3.2 - Estimated savings on fuel bill
|Fuel||Reduction/ Increase in kWh (2008-09) since baseline
||Average p/kWh||Estimated Saving/Rise from fuel bill (£)
||(-) 738,342,624 kWh||2.44
||(-) 153,075,492 kWh||3.56
||(-) 8,554,531 kWh ||1.29
|Electricity||(+) 171,548,210 kWh
The total saving in terms of fuel will be highly dependent upon
where the kWh reductions have occurred due to the range of estimated
savings by fuel type, so the figures presented above are only
indicative. As these numbers are based on averages they should
be taken as an illustrative high level indication of the monetary
savings and not as absolute.
The reduction in CO2 emissions from administrative
road travel in 2008-09, when compared to the baseline data was
30,601 tonnes of CO2, with a prior savings of 17,023
tonnes of CO2 in 2007-08. However, in the 2006-07 CO2
emissions from travel had increased by 1.5% (2,123 tonnes) above
the baseline. These savings and costs are part of the non-traded
emission sector. Applying the non-traded price for carbon of £50/tCO2e
to 2008 (the first year valuation is provided) and £51/tCO2e
in 2009, the total saving in mitigation costs is equivalent to
There are some key assumptions required to make this calculation:
- The reduction in carbon is achieved through a reduction in
- All administrative travel was by an average car with unknown
- All miles were travelled at 59.9 mph (the DfT average speed
for the UK Network).
- 75% of travel occurred in 2008 and 25% in 2009.
- The price of carbon in 2006 and 2007 is the same as 2008.
Assumed cost savings
We can therefore deduce that in the 2008-09 performance year the
estimated total saved mileage of 93,749,544 miles. At an average
speed of 59.9 mph this equates to:
- approximately 1,677,094 fewer hours driving;
- 223,613 x 7.5 hr working days;
- 1,016 full time staff time (working 220 days of the year).
Assumed wider financial benefits
- If the road transport fuel saved is petrol this would be equivalent
to approximately 19.7 million litres saved over the three years.
At an average petrol price of 103.2p/litre
this equates to approximately £20.4 million saved.
- Reduced operating costs - tyres, fewer vehicle repairs, replacements,
tolls and parking. The running costs for a vehicle per mile in
2008 ranged from 7.19p/mile (not including petrol) to 10.33p/mile.
Applying this to the mileage saved is equivalent to between £10
million and £14.4 million over the three years.
- Government can use the time saved to deliver better public
services more efficiently.
Assumed wider social benefits
- Less time spent travelling for work can provide a better work
life balance, and may be spent in the community, caring for elderly
friends and relatives or undertaking charity work. Wider sustainability
benefits may be realised if the time is spent on exercise.
- Also when compared to the DfT statistics of road fatalities
of 1 per 85 million miles driven it would be expected that the
reduction would save at least one road fatality per year.
In 2008-09 total Government waste arisings reduced by 49,382 tonnes
compared to the baseline. Prior to this, Government waste arisings
reduced by 68,498 tonnes in 2007-08 and 8,482 tonnes in the 2006-07
against their respective baselines.
- Between 50% and 100% of this would have been sent to landfill.
- Landfill tax rates are applied as follows for waste going
- 2006-07 £16/tonne.
- 2007-08 £24/tonne.
- 2008-09 £32/tonne.
- The cost of disposal either by recycling or landfill is around
£36/t and has been applied to each of the years.
- The 2006-07 and 2007-08 year reductions in waste arisings
did not include the MOD as reliable data was not available.
Assumed cost savings
Avoided landfill tax
- 2006-07: Between £67,856.00 (50% not sent to landfill
savings of landfill tax of £16/tonne); and £135,712.00
(100% not sent to landfill at landfill tax of £16/tonne).
- 2007-08: Between £821,976.00 (50% not sent to landfill
savings of landfill tax of £24/tonne); and £1,643,952
(100% not sent to landfill at landfill tax of £24/tonne).
- 2008-09: Between £790,112.00 (50% not sent to landfill
savings of landfill tax of £32/tonne); and £1,580,224
(100% not sent to landfill at landfill tax of £32/tonne).
Avoided disposal costs
- 2006-2007: £305,352 (100% disposal avoided).
- 2007-2008: £2,465,928 (100% disposal avoided).
- 2008-2009: £1,777,752 (100% disposal avoided).
Assumed wider benefits
- It has not been possible to monetise other related savings
from use of consumables e.g. paper and toners, and therefore the
wider benefits of waste reductions are not captured.
- In 2008-09 a further 150,022 tonnes of waste has been recycled
and not been sent to landfill.
- In 2007-08 157,943 (including MOD) tonnes was recycled and
in 2006-07 118,923 (including MOD). This is equivalent to savings
in landfill tax of approximately £10.5 million (£4.8
million in 08-09, £3.8 million in 07-08 and 1.9 million in
- The wider benefits of recycling:
- Provide raw material for resource re-use.
- Supports recycling and re-use industry.
- Methane generation - notional carbon impact.
The benefits of reducing water consumption are the saving in water
bill costs along with indirect carbon emission reductions. An
average price of £1.43/m3 of water has been derived
based on the average charges from five water companies as detailed
in Table 6.1.
Table 6.1 - Water supply charge & sewerage standing
|Water Supplier||Water supply charge & sewerage standing charge (£/m3)
- Assuming a reduction in water consumption in 2008-09 of 9,285,261m3
compared to the baseline, this would equate to an estimated saving
of £13,277,924, based on a cost of £1.43/m3
for the associated water bill charges.
- The reductions in 2007-08 would save £12,255,981 based
on a reduction of 8,570,616m3
- The reductions in 2006-07 would total £71,602 based on
a reduction of 50,071m3
- This totals approximately £25.5 million over the three
The SDC recognises that most of the water reduction is due to
leakage reduction by MOD through Project Aquatrine, that the cost
savings will not be standard rates and will not necessarily be
realised entirely by government, but may be shared with the contractor.
Associated carbon emission savings
The provision of fresh potable water requires a significant amount
of energy to treat and pump the water resulting in additional
carbon emissions. Using the Defra carbon conversion factor we
can establish that in 2008-09 the difference in water consumed
to that of the baseline is equivalent to 8,977tCO2e.
Applying the 2009 Defra emission factor to both the 2006-07 and
2007-08 difference in water consumed gives an equivalent of 8,354tCO2e
(49 tonnes of CO2e and 8,305 tonnes of CO2e
Which if we assume that this is related to energy use which is
likely to be predominately electricity therefore (a conservative
approach) applying the 2008 traded carbon price of £12-£26/tCO2e
the value of mitigation savings would be between for the three
years approximately £208,210 to £451,122, or at the
central traded price of £21/t, £364,368.
The figures summarised in Table 7.1 below and provided elsewhere
within this note are illustrative. They are based on a number
of generic assumptions at a pan-Government level and average factors.
Please note that this is not presented as a cost benefit analysis
as the costs of any measures to facilitate reductions have not
been factored into any of the calculations. Also it is not suggested
that these saving would be achieved by sustainability initiatives
alone. This note seeks to highlight the benefits of more sustainable
operations and to highlight the importance of the continued improvements
in performance that can be achieved by adopting more sustainable
Table 7.1- Illustrative monetary savings
||Illustrative Potential Savings in 2008-9 compared to baseline
||Approximation of three year savings
|Carbon||Mitigation value of reduced carbon from offices
||£14.5 M||£28.3 M
|Energy||Annual Energy efficiency - avoided billing costs
|Travel||Fuel - avoided full costs
||£13.7 M||£20.4 M
|Travel||Vehicle operating/ running costs
||£6.7- £9.7 M||£10 M - £14 M
|Waste||Avoided landfill tax
||£0.8 - £1.6 M||£1.7 - £4.5 M
|Waste ||Avoided disposal costs
||£1.8 M||£4.6 M
|Water||Water bills||£13.2 M
|Travel||Mitigation value of reduced carbon
||£ 1.5 M ||£2.3 M
|Water||Mitigation value of reduced carbon - associated Carbon reduction (non traded price applied)
||£0.2 M||£0.45 M
|Total £ per year
||£62.3M- £65.8M||£93.3 M -£100.05 M
Based on these figures, over the course of the current Parliament,
it is possible that these savings will add up to between £300
million and £330 million in savings, assuming no new initiatives
are undertaken, and that Government does not lose ground on the
savings already made due to the unexpected consequences of new
Government policies and initiatives.
Annex B - SDC Key Achievements
The SDC advises on and assesses departmental Sustainable Development
Action Plans annually in order to scrutinise planning and encourage
performance improvement, and scrutinises Government's progress
towards embedding sustainable development (SD) into their operations
As of May 2010, the SDC had provided guidance, support, assessment
or a combination of these functions to 16 departments, 11 executive
agencies, 5 NDPBs and 1 NHS Trust. Integrating sustainable development
(SD) in policy was a key aspect of the SDC's advice and guidance.
In addition the SDC have continued to raise the bar on SDAP's:
- We have achieved far greater engagement with departments.
There are already many instances where our assessments and suggestions
for improvement have resulted in far higher quality new SDAPs
being produced, including those of DfT, MOD, and Defra. There
has also been a significant change in the way we work with FCO
who, as a result of our SDAP assessment, reinvigorated their entire
approach to SD.
- The SDC also responded to requests for help on Impact Assessments
from HMRC, DCSF, FCO and the FSA, and provided advice to DECC
and Defra on the links between SDAPs and departmental Carbon Reduction
Delivery Plans and Climate Change Adaptation Plans. In these latter
cases the SDC fed text directly into the draft guidance drawn
up by DECC and Defra for Government departments.
- We have developed a new approach to the entire SDAP process.
This involves both scrutiny and guidance, and is designed to make
it more tailored and meaningful to departments. We are now working
with the FCO and DfT using this new approach.
From the SDAP Reviews it can be seen that the value of the process
continues to be seen by both departments and agencies and there
is now a greater understanding of the purpose of the SDAP as a
tool to ensure departmental decision-making and all other departmental
activities are more sustainable.
The SDC has also worked with Government departments to improve
the environmental performance of their operations and procurement
through the Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) process.
The SDiG report on Government's progress towards achieving the
Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE) targets
has been one of the most influential from a public perspective.
Most departments also appreciate the ranking system, especially
when they perform well. It inspires most departments to work harder
each year knowing that their performance will be scrutinised publicly
by the SDC. The analysis also highlights which departments are
doing well, indicating where other departments should begin their
search for finding new innovative solutions to meeting the targets.
The SDC has also advised Defra on the future development of the
SOGE framework of targets to ensure performance is continually
challenged and innovation is encouraged.
Whilst no one organisation can claim to be wholly responsible
for operational improvements across Government, it is fair to
say that Government was not doing at all well against its own
targets before the SDC started measuring performance and advising
on necessary changes. Through a combination of guidance, support
and assessment, the SDC has helped departments deliver better
operations and helped Government demonstrate their leadership
in SD - "showing by doing". This scrutiny and support
has encouraged and supported departments to achieve benefits from
a more sustainable approach:
- Administrative Road Travel - In 2008-09 Government
reported a reduction in emissions from administrative road vehicles
of 17% compared to 2005-06 levels, which equates to an estimated
reduction of 93.7 million miles, resulting in an estimated economic
savings of £13.7 million in terms of fuel costs, and time
wasted equating to the saving of the annual staff hours of 1,016
Full Time Equivalent people. In terms of staff wellbeing, this
frees up approximately 1.68 million hours to complete work which
will contribute to reductions in stress, sickness and allow staff
to spend more time with their families.
- CO2 emissions (offices and vehicles) - Between
2006-07 and 2008-09, Government reduced its SOGE carbon emissions
by over 610,000 tonnes. This is the equivalent of the CO2
emissions of London's entire bus fleet in 1 year. Whilst the environmental
impact is clear, the economic impact in terms of less operational
spend on heat, fuel and power is large and socially this helps
to make the case for how there can be prosperity without energy
- Waste Arisings and Recycling - In 2008-09 Government
reported a decrease in waste arisings of 13.7% compared to 2004-05
and an increase in the rate of recycling to 48.4%. This resulted
in almost 200,000 tonnes of waste not going to landfill; equivalent
to more than all waste sent to inert landfills for the Forth Valley
in Scotland. It has also resulted in an estimated saving of between
£2.6 million and £3.4 million from avoided landfill
tax and disposal costs.
- Water usage - Between 2006-07 and 2008-09, Government
reported using 17,905,948m3 less water than in 2004-05.
Economically this saved an estimated £25.5 million in water
bills. Environmentally it reduces the stress on the UK water network
when parts of the South East, where the majority of Government
departments are sited, are water stressed.
Note the costs are indicative and make no allowance for investment
costs, maintenance and management. They are included as an example
of how an SD approach can deliver economic, social and environmental
benefits to Government. (See Annex A for more details).
In addition a number of other key achievements were made:
- The eighth annual SDiG report for was published on the 18th
of December 2009 followed by a 3 year retrospective report on
the SOGE targets in June 2010, based on the SOGE data collected
by the SDC and the Office for Government Commerce providing independent
analysis and commentary.
- At the end of October 2009, the Watchdog team provided a formal
response to the consultation in Defra for the development of the
new SOGE Framework in 2010-11.
- The first Welsh SDiG report was published in December 2009,
assessing the Welsh Assembly Government's performance against
its Environmental Management System targets, and demonstrating
the SDC's growing role in holding the Devolved Administrations
to account on SD.
- The SDC produced this Third Annual Assessment of SD in the
Scottish Government in December 2009. The assessment concluded
that while the Scottish Government had good frameworks in place
- for example the Climate Change Act (Scotland) 2009 - more action
is needed to rethink the structure of our communities and our
economy if we are serious about a low-carbon sustainable lifestyle.
- The SDC has also been working with the Scottish Government
to develop a Public Sector Duty on climate change and on the corporate
sustainability performance of the wider public sector.
- As a result of the SDC's Review of Public Service Regulators,
Ofsted has appointed a Head of Sustainable Development and is
producing a "Stimulus document" on sustainable development,
designed to embed SD within their diverse remits. The SDC has
been providing support and comments throughout. A review by the
Audit Commission of the application of SD principles in CAA judgements
took place in December 2009, also as recommended in our report.
2.2 Policy analysis/advocacy of
The SDC publishes evidence-based reports to feed into Government
policy making. The SDC also works alongside Government departments
to co-develop policy and has carried out thematic reviews in this
role. The SDC has been useful for Government to support the development
of policy and programmes in controversial areas. Examples of key
research which has influenced Government policy include:
- Lost in Transmission - the Role of Ofgem (2007).
A major recommendation by the SDC was that that the government
align Ofgem's primary duty with the four goals of energy policy:
to cut carbon emissions; maintain the reliability of energy supplies;
promote competitive markets; and ensure that every home is adequately
and affordably heated. OFGEM's primary duty was restructured in
2009 to give greater balance to these SD issues and the needs
of both existing and future consumers. Responses to other recommendations
in this report include:
- SDC recommended the roll out of smart meters to enable people
to monitor and act on their energy use. Mandatory smart meter
roll out has now been agreed and will be completed for all homes
- Transmission access has been reformed to enable smaller, low-carbon
generators and suppliers to connect to the grid more easily.
- A Renewable Heat Incentive is planned to come into force in
April 2011 as part of DECC's heat and Energy Saving Strategy.
- Energy and climate change have been aligned under one Secretary
of State since 2008.
- Sustainable Development: the key to tackling health inequalities
(2010). This report collated detailed evidence of sustainable
solutions to health inequalities, providing environmental and
health co-benefits in four sectors: food, transport, green space
and the built environment. This evidence was a key element of
the Marmot Review of Health Inequalities and a key argument for
a prevention driven health system in the future.
- I Will if you Will (2005). This set out a number of recommendations
on a major challenge facing Government in how to enable people
to lead more sustainable lives:
- All government buildings and transport to be carbon neutral
by 2012. Government departments now all have a CO2 target against
which they are monitored (though the target is under review by
DECC mainly because of cost considerations).
- The SDC's groundbreaking work on "roadmapping" the
impacts of the goods we buy has led to successful Defra initiatives
aimed at reducing the life-cycle impacts of consumer products
including clothing, milk, household appliances and constructions
- Turning the Tide - Tidal Power in the UK (2007).
The SDC's expert advice on tidal energy in the UK paved the way
for Government to begin a full investigation into the potential
for generating 4% of the UK's electricity needs from the Severn
Estuary, while setting tough conditions for the social and environmental
sustainability of the project. Subsequently the SDC was commissioned
by DECC to provide advice to Ministers on how the project might
compensate for lost habitats by creating new ones of equal value,
in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive.
- Setting the Table: Advice to Government on Priority
Elements of Sustainable Diets (2009). This SDC
research was commissioned by Defra to provide advice to Government
on the priority elements for a sustainable diet and recommendations
for action to take this forward. The SDC's advice was a key input
to the Government's new Food 2030 strategy in which sustainable
diets was a key theme and highlighted the need for integrated
advice to consumers on food and a greater emphasis on sustainable
- Stock take: Delivering Improvements in Existing Housing
(2006). The SDC recommended that Government develop
a holistic policy framework across the 4 E's (Encourage, Enable,
Engage and Exemplify) to drive carbon reduction in homes. This
was followed up by ongoing advocacy with officials in CLG and
DECC, and further pieces of work (Building Houses or Creating
Communities? (2007)), comprehensive oral and written evidence
to the CLG Select Committee Inquiry (2007) and a staff secondment
to DECC (2009-10). The Household Energy Management Strategy
(published by DECC and CLG in 2010) responds to many of the SDC's
proposals and ideas, including:
- Taking a whole house approach to upgrading energy efficiency
of existing homes, in the context of national carbon targets.
- A strong energy company obligation and new finance mechanisms
enabling and encouraging action.
- Minimum standards for private and social rented properties
to exemplify change.
- Universal smart metering and improved energy performance certificates
to engage householders.
- Advice for consumers and accreditation frameworks for installers,
enabling householders to take action.
- The Future is Local (2010) - The SDC
was one of the first voices advocating a whole-house approach
to home energy efficiency and the upgrading of existing homes,
paving the way for the Government's 2009 Great British Refurb
programme. The SDC followed this up by launching its report The
Future is Local which provided evidence that delivering an
area-based approach to infrastructure upgrades will provide a
number of benefits including galvanising community engagement
and encouraging sustainable behaviour change; increasing the uptake
of retrofitting works; reducing costs; building capacity in local
firms and creating local jobs; making the benefits of retrofit
visible by improving quality of place; overcoming barriers to
householders; improving the viability and effectiveness of some
technologies; and providing the opportunity to integrate delivery
of different infrastructure upgrades.
- Prosperity without Growth?: the Transition to a Sustainable
Economy (2009) - SDC Commissioner Tim Jackson's
Prosperity Without Growth?, first published as the landmark
SDC report, was selected by the Financial Times as one of its
Books of the Year in November 2009.
- Low Carbon Wales: Regional Priorities for Action
(2009) - and has delivered workshops at to each of the six
ministerial Wales Spatial Plan area steering group meetings. The
SDC has advised Wales Spatial Plan teams on how they might adopt
a common methodology to create individual low carbon work programmes.
As a result of work in 2009-10 the SDC has secured funding for
a second phase of this work.
Not all of the SDC's analysis and advice has resulted in reports,
but has instead focused on engagement which has also influenced
Government policy. The SDC has attended the meetings of, and provided
advice and input to, over 40 working and/or advisory groups within
Government, including Defra's Sustainable Development Programme
Board, the Sustainable Scotland Board, the Severn Tidal Board,
the Sustainable Construction Strategy Working Group, CABE's Young
Space Shaper Steering Group, the Healthier Food Mark Steering
Group and the review of the Government Economic Service's Green
Book. Other examples of successful engagement include:
- The SDC influenced the development and implementation of the
2008 DTI/BERR/BIS Sustainable Construction Strategy when
DTI announced a review of the previous Sustainable Construction
Strategy. Through engaging with officials, responding to consultations
and capacity building (two staff were seconded to the Department
to help write the strategy) the SDC influenced the resulting strategy.
As a result of SDC advice, the UK Government's Sustainable Construction
strategy set a target for departments and industry to cut construction
waste to landfill by 50% by 2012 and achieved buy-in from across
Government and industry.
- The SDC has provided a response to the Government's Guidance
for Regional Strategies and Leaders' Boards consultation and a
bilateral meeting was held with officials.
- The SDC provided research into the issue of coal as a fuel
for power generation, which has been completed, and the SDC has
met with DECC officials to highlight our recommendations on how
coal and the the Carbon capture and Storage policy must take into
account SD considerations. The SDC will also be using this research
as part of its response to the UK Government's National Policy
- The SDC was commissioned to provide advice on specific policy
issues by 13 departments/organisations in 2009-10: the Scottish
Government, Defra, BIS, DECC, Audit Commission, DCSF, CLG, HCA,
UK Parliament and the Office of the First Minister and Deputy
First Minister (OFMDFM) in Northern Ireland, the Department for
Public Service Delivery in Wales, Climate Change Commission for
Wales and the Private Office of the Minister for Environment,
Sustainability and Housing in Wales.
2.3 Capacity Building
The SDC has a key role in enabling Government departments to increase
their SD capability to affect an improvement in the implementation
of policy. A particularly successful approach has been to "embed"
staff in departments. We have worked with the Department of Health
and the Department of Children, Schools and Families to deliver
- The SDC's Good Corporate Citizenship tool (2010)
- This tool supports sustainability practice in the NHS. Over
75% of NHS Trusts have now registered. The tool enables Trusts
to self-assess across a range of social, environmental and economic
performance areas, and take action to reduce waste and cut carbon
and so making efficiency savings which could be used to improve
patient care. In addition refocusing activities can help support
local economies and communities which will help improve the health
of the local population. For example, Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust
reduced CO2 levels by 9% and saved £600,000 in
a single year.
- Every Child's Future Matters (2007) -
With support from DCSF the SDC commissioned research and analysed
the impact of the environment on children's wellbeing, and how
Government and children's services can influence the quality of
places on behalf of children. The report focused on three major
priorities: road traffic; green space; and climate change. The
timing of ECFM was good; in that it was published as the DCSF
was drawing up crucial policy in its Children's Plan and Play
Strategy and formed a key input to their thinking.
- Schools Carbon Management - The SDC worked with
DCSF from 2008 to encourage a holistic analysis of carbon emissions
from the schools estate and the development of a carbon management
strategy. Through use of evidence, engaging with officials and
ministers, and capacity building with an embedded SDC member of
staff in DCSF throughout, the SDC influenced a new approach to
and understanding of carbon emissions from the schools estate,
and initiated a new strategy. Key points of influence were:
- To achieve a strategy for carbon management for the schools
- To include a holistic definition of greenhouse gas emissions
including building energy, transport, procurement and waste.
- To agree stretching targets for the carbon management strategy.
- To get the Department of Health to initiate a similar process
for the NHS, in response to DCSF, and commissioning SDC advice.
Other capacity building achievements include:
- The SDC has delivered seminars, presentations and workshops
to a total of over 35 departments and public sector organisations,
including Defra, the Scottish Government, WAG, DH, DfT, HMT, Environment
Agency, DECC and the Infrastructure Planning Commission.
- The SDC was commissioned by DCSF to undertake a new study
into the links between SD and positive outcomes for young people.
- The SDC has also been providing intensive support to the DCSF
as it prepares to launch its Carbon Management Strategy for schools
- A policy maker's checklist for children and families policy
was completed in 2010 by the SDC, as has preliminary work on a
"Good Places to Grow Up" basket of national indicators
for use by policy makers and local commissioners of children's
- Two DH "policy pilots" are underway on the Healthier
Food Mark and commissioning policy respectively, and preliminary
engagement on pharmaceutical production has begun.
- Review of the overall process by which policy is made in DH,
working closely with DH's Policy and Strategy Unit.
- SDAPs of both DH and DCSF have been green-rated by SDC's Watchdog
team. Two executive agencies within DCSF had 100% green or amber
ratings (from a total of 57 and 16 commitments respectively. DH
had 86% of its actions "on target" or "completed",
with a further 6 "recoverable" and none behind target.
- Signed agreements were made with both DCSF and DH for further
programmes of work in 2010-11.
As an extension of this capacity building programme the SDC has:
- Chosen to develop and deliver this network in partnership
with Defra, so that the SDC's work and that of the department
can be coordinated, and engagement with other departments and
individuals across Whitehall improved.
- Presented to the Welsh Assembly Government's advocated network
to share best practice and worked alongside Defra to deliver a
joint "sustainable development in policy" network event
in February 2009.
- Met regularly with the National School of Government (NSG)
to discuss SD issues, and from these discussions a pan-Government
capability building group has been set up. The SDC is now working
with the NSG and Government Skills to explore how to embed sustainable
development into core government competencies.
- Presented to the Heads of Inspectorates Forum at the Welsh
Assembly and a further presentation is planned at the Better Regulation
- Met with a total of 73 Senior Civil Servants (Grade 5 and
above) through a total of 177 face-to-face meetings. Our strongest
relationships have been with Defra, DECC, DCSF, DH, DfT and OFMDFM
in Northern Ireland. 49 Government officials, amongst many other
stakeholders, responded to our "Big Issues" survey,
conducted as part of the work planning process for 2010-11.
2.4 International Reach of the
An analysis of the first seven months' worth of site visits and
downloads in 2010 reveals 231,536 unique visitors to the SDC website
- averaging over 233,000 hits a month - from more than 110 different
countries. The most popularly downloaded document was Prosperity
Without Growth? which says that the current global recession
should be the occasion to forge a new economic system equipped
to avoid the shocks and negative impacts associated with our reliance
on growth. This shows the international relevance and resonance
of the messages that the SDC produces and positions the SDC as
an international thought-leader on SD. The top 20 international
downloads in order of magnitude were from United States, Canada,
Australia, Sweden, Germany, India, France, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands,
Denmark, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, China, Portugal, Brazil, Malaysia,
Philippines and Japan.
Annex C - Key Priorities for Government
Government must make clear its priorities for SD going forward
over the life of the parliament if it hopes to successfully tackle
key policy issues such as Big Society, Localism, Greenest Government
Ever, Fairness, building a new economy and unlocking social mobility.
A thematic approach to these issues could find cross-cutting solutions
and help assess how well departments are contributing to overarching
sustainability issues. For example:
- 1. Economy - How can Government support a transition
to a sustainable economy? Whilst action is taken to reduce the
deficit and strengthen the economy in the short term, what action
has been taken to move to a more resilient and more inclusive
economy that takes a long-term view and respects environmental
limits? (The focus on moving to a long-term and more inclusive
economy would differentiate the EAC's remit from that of the Economic
- 2. Places - How can Government ensure that our
society stays within environmental limits, while creating sustainable
places? Have environmental limits, in particular, cumulative environmental
impacts, been considered in the decision making for delivering
the sustainable security of supply of energy, water, natural resources,
biodiversity and food and the development of essential infrastructure?
- 3. Fairness - How can Government ensure that policies
reduce disadvantage in certain sections of our society rather
than having a disproportionate impact? Have the co-benefits from
policies to help us live within environmental limits and policies
on fairness and improving wellbeing been assessed and understood?
(This approach would differentiate the EAC's remit from that of
the Social Justice and Home Affairs Committees or Public Health
- 4. Lives - What can Government do to support action
in communities and business that encourages changes to people's
behaviour, and which enables more sustainable lives? Our current
consumption patterns are unsustainable given the environmental
limits within which we have to live. Is there a shared understanding
and agreement across Government on what the desired behavioural
goals are; and have departments considered in their policy proposals
how they might assist in bringing about desired changes in society
through their own policy agendas and through synergy with other
- 5. Government - How can Government better organise
itself to deliver more sustainable outcomes? Is an SD approach
being taken consistently across Government? Are departments working
together to properly assess the risks and impacts across policy
areas to achieve better policy outcomes? This process would usefully
identify any conflicts, and means of bringing the right people
together to resolve these conflicts (e.g. around the messages
of eating less meat). If their capability is lacking then what
further structural changes or changes to the machinery of Government
15 October 2010
The statutory duty is contained in Section 79 of the Government
of Wales Act 2006. It states that "Welsh Ministers must make
a scheme ("the sustainable development scheme") setting
out how they propose, in the exercise of their functions, to promote
sustainable development." Back
Driving Change, 2008, Sustainable Development Commission
and Preparing your SDAP progress report, 2008, Sustainable
Development Commission. Back
the financial year 2009/10 the SDC provided guidance, assessment
and recommendations to 34 organisations on improving their Sustainable
Development Action Plans (SDAPs) as well as providing ongoing
advice and responding to individual queries from departments,
executive agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies about the
SDAP process on a day-to-day basis. Back
As reported in the SDC's 2009 Sustainable Development in Government
(SDiG) report Becoming the 'Greenest Government Ever' located
on the SDC's website:
This does not take into account the initial investment costs required
to achieve these savings. Back
Carbon Valuation in UK Policy Appraisal: A Revised Approach
(July 2009) available www.decc.gov.uk Back
For further information on the approach to carbon valuation a
brief guide on carbon values and their use in economic appraisals
is available online at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/lc_uk/valuation/valuation.aspx Back
As reported in 2007-08 as 08-09 split by fuel not received. Back
Applying non traded price of carbon of £50/ t as 75% of the
emissions in 2008 assuming that the reduction in carbon is purely
from reduction in fossil fuels. The non traded price of carbon
for 2008 has been applied to the years 06-07 and 07-08 as this
is the first year of non traded prices provided. Back
Note that this is a high level assessment and therefore does not
take into account the cost of carbon associated with the increased
electricity use (which would range between £12-£27/t)
or the total reduction in fossil fuel use. Rather it simply looks
at the aggregated overall reduction in carbon (which is a factor
of the increase in electricity and the reduction in fossil fuel). Back
BERR energy statistics, Table 3.4.2 Prices of fuels purchased
by non domestic consumers in the United Kingdom (including climate
change levy) http://www.berr.gov.uk/energy/statistics/publications/prices/tables/page18125.html
The SDC recognises that government departments may get a reduced
energy price through OGCbs framework. The figures used are for
illustrative purposes. Back
Derived as equivalent to the % split of energy use as derived
from BRE's data. Back
Average size consumer. Back
Average size consumer. Back
Taken as coal, small consumer. Back
Reductions since baseline minus the additional electricity kWh. Back
It will also be due to more efficient vehicles and therefore we
recognise that this would lead to an overestimation of miles saved
for this illustration. Back
(The SDC recognises that the average speed for all travel including
urban travel will be slower and therefore that the estimate of
hours will be an underestimation for this illustration). Back
Based on monthly averages averaged from Apr 2008 to March 2009
Based on 7.3 fatalities per 1 billion km, reported at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/managingspeedonourroads Back
In 2008/09 pan government recycling represented 48.2% of total
waste arisings. Back
Please note that reduced landfill tax also results in reduced
income for the Treasury - which itself may have been spent on
sustainable development initiatives. Back
Defra 2009 2009 Guidelines to Defra/DECC's GHG Conversion
factors for Company Reporting, Annex 9- Other Conversion factor
Tables, Table 9a. Back
Including non-traded cost of carbon estimates if performance is