Memorandum sumbitted by Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
DEFRA has a central role to play in UK preparations
for the Summit, both as the champion of sustainable development
policy in the UK Government, and as the lead Department on relevant
negotiations in environmental fora, including policy lead for
WSSD. DEFRA leads the UK delegations for the UN preparatory meetings
in the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, and in the EU
co-ordination for WSSD.
In preparing for the Summit we are working particularly
closely with the Prime Minister's office, the office of the Deputy
Prime Minister, DFID, FCO and DTI. In addition, we are liasing
with other government departments including the devolved administrations,
mainly via the inter-departmental group on WSSD which we chair.
DEFRA is also an active member of MISC 18, the
Ministerial Group chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister to develop,
co-ordinate and deliver the Government's strategy for WSSD. At
official level we host the high level steering group meetings,
attended by all the relevant departments, which feed into MISC
2. What reports will the UK be submitting
to the preparatory process for the Johannesburg Summit? What special
reviews of progress on the sustainable development agenda has
the government made or is it making in connection with preparing
for the Summit? Will these be published and submitted to the preparatory
The UK is strongly committed to the Rio and
Rio + 5 call for countries to have sustainable development strategies
in place by 2002. The UK will be submitting a number of reports
to the preparatory process including: a country report (Review
and Assessment of progress made by the United Kingdom in the implementation
of Agenda 21 at National and Regional Levels) as requested by
the UN (copy attached) and the 2002 Annual Report on Sustainable
Development (due to be published in early March). We are also
considering what other documentation we could usefully provide
before the summit.
All DEFRA reports and Ministerial speeches relating
to the Summit will be published and made available on the website
for sustainable development http://www.sustainable-development.gov.uk
3. What systems does the government have in
place for monitoring UK progress on sustainable development and
all the issues mapped out in Agenda 21 since 1992? Does DEFRA
have any such systems in place for its own policies?
Since 1992 the Government has established a
number of systems for monitoring and reporting UK progress on
sustainable development. Most recently, in May 1999, following
a period of public consultation, this Government's Sustainable
Development Strategy, better quality of life (copy attached)
was published. In preparing the revised Strategy, the Government
built on the achievements of the previous Government's 1994 Strategy,
and also consulted on a set of headline indicators of sustainable
The Strategy identified a core set of around
150 indicators of sustainable development and a subset of 15 "headline"
indicatorsa "quality of life barometer"to
provide an overview. The Government made commitments in the Strategy
to report annually on progress by the country as a whole towards
sustainable development, including a description of progress against
the 15 headline indicators, and to adjust policies accordingly
when an indicator trend moved in the wrong direction.
In December 1999 the government published Quality
of life counts (Qolc) (copy attached) which builds on the indicators
contained in the Strategy and the messages they send, to provide
a baseline assessment against which progress towards sustainable
development can be measured. Qolc explains why we need indicators;
the criteria and frameworks used to develop the indicators; how
indicators will be used; and how they may need to develop over
time to respond to changing circumstances.
The Government's first annual review of progress
towards sustainable development, Achieving a better quality of
life (copy attached) was published on January 25, 2001. At its
heart is an analysis of progress against the fifteen headline
indicators of sustainable development, including for the first
time forward projections or exemplifications to demonstrate the
expected future effect of current or planned targets and policies.
Chapter 3 of the Report links each indicator with relevant public
service agreement targets (PSAs). Progress in delivering these
targets is monitored closely and reported on in Departmental annual
reports. The indicators are also published through out the year
as new data become available, as part of a continual process of
In parallel with the Annual Report, the Government
launched a new sustainable development websitewww.sustainable-development.gov.uk.
The website is designed to provide continuous monitoring and reporting
of progress towards sustainable development by society as a whole.
It also includes a Discussion Forum to provide a less formal,
more creative mechanism for debating and exchanging information
on sustainable development issues.
The second sustainable development annual report,
reviewing progress made in 2001, is due for publication in March
As proposed in the 1999 Strategy, the Government
has also established the Sustainable Development Commission, subsuming
the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development and the British
Government Panel on Sustainable Development. The Commission's
role is to advocate sustainable development across all sectors
in the UK, review progress towards it, and build consensus on
the actions needed to further progress.
Greening Government: To date three annual
reports on Greening Government have been published. The original
idea for a published report came from the Environmental Audit
Committee (EAC) as one of the recommendations from its first inquiry
into the Greening Government Initiative. The Third Annual Report
(copy attached) was published in November 2001 and goes even
further than the previous two reports by providing an interactive
database that allows anyone to access detailed performance data
for each department. The database is available on the Government's
sustainable development website and includes links to the electronic
version of Part 1 of the report.
DEFRA: DEFRA is currently in the process
of establishing it's own departmental strategy on sustainable
The strategy will clarify what sustainable development
means in practice for the department's policy development and
decision-making, as well as its own operations. In particular,
the Departmental Strategy will aim to:
Set down the principles and tools
which DEFRA need to adopt to ensure all its policies address economic,
social and environmental objectives at the same time;
Identify a few policy areas and cross
cutting themes which pose the greatest challenge or can make the
greatest contribution to the achievement of sustainable development;
Look at the scope to contribute to
sustainable development through DEFRA's own operations (such as
energy, waste, procurement and travel).
The strategy will also establish a way of monitoring
and reporting on progress. It is due for publication after Easter
Forestry Commission: In January 1998,
the Forestry Commission (FC) published "The UK Forestry Standard"
which outlined the Government's approach to sustainable forest
management. To complement this, the FC is developing a set of
indicators of sustainable forestry which will monitor the contribution
of forestry to sustainable development and expand upon the forestry
indicators set out in Quality of Life Counts". In the lead
up to the Summit, the UK will publish a Government Statement on
Sustainable Forestry, which will form an integral part of the
UK's National Forest Programme.
4a. What are the international mechanisms
for deciding the agenda for the Summit?
There was a consensus in the UN that the Summit
should be prepared "from the bottom up". This reflected
the widespread view that one of the weaknesses of the 1997 UN
General Assembly Special Session of Rio plus 5 was the fact that
it was prepared from the top down. In the second half of 2001
there were regional preparatory meetings in each of the UN regional
areas. The UK delegation, led by Michael Meacher, participated
actively in the UNECE meeting held in September. In addition the
UN organised five regional roundtables of "eminent people"
to engage civil society. Sir Crispin Tickell chaired the roundtable
for the UNECE region in Colorado in June. The results of all these
regional discussions were reflected in the Secretary General's
report, "Implementing Agenda 21", published in December
2001. The report contains ten themes for action, which are closely
in line with UK and EU priorities.
The second preparatory meeting (Prepcom II)
in New York in January gathered views on implementation of Agenda
21, barriers to action and measures to overcome failings. The
Secretary General's report informed the debate. These various
inputs, from major stakeholder groups, UN Member States, and other
relevant institutions and agencies, have been synthesised by the
Chair (Indonesia), into three documentsa summary of the
discussions, a paper suggesting a range of measures/actions required
to implement Agenda 21, and a short document setting out specific
issues where solutions would require partnership working.
It became clear at Prepcom II that a three-pronged
outcome was envisaged for WSSD:
a short overarching political text
suitable for signature by Heads of Government/State;
a more detailed text focusing on
action by governmentsin essence a "Johannesburg Programme
a third tier comprising a wide range
of partnership initiatives involving groups of willing governments
with business, NGOs and other stakeholders focused on implementation
and with sufficient substance and credibility to be a WSSD outcome.
The paper by the Chair of Prepcom II will form
the starting point for negotiations at Prepcom III in New York
25 March5 April, and will address the plan of action. This
will then be followed by a Ministerial Preparatory meeting in
Indonesia from 27 May7 June, which will prepare the political
declaration for further consideration by Heads of Government at
Johannesburg. "Partnership" outputs will be discussed
in parallel to the intergovernmental negotiations.
4b. How is the UK contributing to an EU input
into the Summit?
The EU maximises its position in sustainable
development negotiations in UN fora by agreeing common positions
that are then advanced in the UN negotiations by the Presidency.
Member States share the responsibility of developing EU positionsthe
UK has taken the lead in the EU in developing a position on poverty
and environment and on action to assist Africa, as well as taking
the lead on environmentally sound technology. UK officials, led
by DEFRA, have been participating actively in the monthly EU Working
Party meetings, which are now mainly focussed on preparations
for WSSD, and played a strong role in EU co-ordination during
Prepcom II. The EU Environment Council is taking the lead on EU
preparations so far, but the objectives for the Summit will be
discussed in the context of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy
at the Barcelona Council in March. There may also be further discussion
in the General Affairs Council and the Seville Council.
DEFRA has also commissioned two influential
pieces of work by the Royal Institute of International Affairs
(RIIA) to assist in the development of UK and EU policy. In 2001
we funded an assessment of options for the reform of international
environmental governance which was widely circulated in the EU
and internationally, and which was reflected in the subsequent
discussions on institutions in UNEP. We also funded a UNEP expert
meeting on international environmental governance in May 2001.
In December we commissioned the RIIA to do further analysis of
partnership models between government, business and civil society,
which might form part of the proposed "global deal"
at Johannesburg. Again this kind of analysis has been widely welcomed
by the EU and other countries, who we have been consulting on
an informal basis. At the time of writing this work is still in
In addition to its work in the EU the UK is
also actively promoting the Summit through other international
fora and through its extensive bilateral contacts. The Prime Minister
was the first Head of Government to announce his intention to
attend the Summit, which has made the UK a key player in formal
and informal processes. The institution of the new Cabinet Committee
dedicated to preparing for the summit has enabled the UK to ensure
that the Summit is raised in a variety of international fora,
and that the links with other processes, especially the UN Financing
for Development Conference in Monterrey, Mexico in March are effectively
Michael Meacher represented the UK at the UN
Environment Programme meeting in Cartagena on 13-15 February,
which agreed a UNEP plan of action for the Summit, and at the
Commonwealth Environment Ministers in Cartagena on 12 February;
Margaret Beckett was invited to contribute to a panel discussion
on WSSD at the Delhi Summit on Sustainable Development in India
on 10 February, and she plans to visit South Africa on 11-14 March.
She will also speak at a World Bank seminar in Washington and
attend the G8 Environment Ministers meeting in Canada on 12-14
April, and the Ministerial Preparatory meeting in Indonesia in
As part of its wider support for the Summit,
DEFRA has seconded an official to each of the UN secretariat in
New York preparing for the Summit, and the Department of Environment
and Tourism in South Africa.
4c. The UK has already set out five key sectoral
initiatives in preparation for the Summit. How were these priorities
The Prime Minister announced the initiatives
in his speech, Environment: The Next Steps to WWF on 6 March 2001.
They cover: water, energy, finance, tourism, and forestry. Water
and energy were chosen because they are sectors which are fundamental
to sustainable development, and where the UK has expertise and
business leadership. The water initiative is a developing multi-stakeholder
partnership that is offering UK knowledge and expertise as a resource
to selected municipalities in African countries. Even at that
early stage it was clear that these were areas where the Summit
could give a fillip to action on the ground. Finance was chosen
because of the pre-eminence of London as a financial centre, which
could have a significant influence worldwide. Similarly tourism,
both out and in bound, is a significant sector in the UK, not
to mention the fastest growing industry in the world with a large
impact on economies and the environment. Lastly, the UK has been
at the leading edge of promoting sustainable forest management
internationally and implementing it domestically. We have been
one of the first countries to adopt a forestry standard and certification.
4d. Will these be the key areas that the UK
delegation seeks to progress at the summit?
The five initiatives were chosen primarily for
their relevance to the UK. For the Summit as a whole UK Ministers
have agreed the priorities set out below, to help focus our preparations
on issues where we can best make progress on existing agreements
and targets, including the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Our approach to WSSD will build on other processes,
including the Doha Development Agenda and Financing for Development,
to focus the efforts of governments, international institutions,
business and civil society on delivering the sustainable development
necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The WSSD
should mark a significant move towards greater prosperity and
security for all, but offer more help for those who need it most.
The UK is seeking to ensure that water and sanitation
will be high on the agenda for WSSD. Michael Meacher led the UK
delegation to the Bonn International Freshwater Conference where
the UK, together with Sweden, secured the inclusion of several
targets in the conference outcomes.
Our strategic objective is to make globalisation
work for sustainable development, especially for the poorest.
We need to secure a new approach for the way in which we all act
to tackle poverty and environmental degradation to deliver an
improved quality of life for all.
The UK priorities against this background are
resource productivity, including
the development and application of scientific and technical knowledge;
sustainable development initiatives
waterfreshwater and oceans;
access to modern energy;
capacity building and education.
Financing for sustainable development, and international
sustainable development governance will also be key cross-cutting
4e. What mechanisms has DEFRA used, or is
using, to co-ordinate input into the UK position from other Departments?
DEFRA has worked closely on international sustainable
development policy with the FCO, DFID, DTI, Cabinet Office and
the Prime Minister's Office. A senior official Steering Group
was set up in May 2001, chaired by Dinah Nichols, Director General
Environmental Protection Group. This steering group is now the
official preparatory committee for MISC 18 and meets monthly.
Ministers meet in MISC 18 also on a monthly basis. An inter-departmental
group, including the devolved administrations, was set up in September
2000. The UK delegation to the preparatory meetings has included
representatives from DEFRA, DFID, FCO and DTI, with other Departments
free to send representatives as appropriate. The UK Government
delegation to the recent Prepcom also included NGO and local government
representatives (there were no business applicants but they are
also welcome to send a representative)
5. Is it DEFRA's role to raise awareness of
the Summit across Government and the public more widely? Has DEFRA
actively publicised the preparations for the World Summit and
its own involvement?
DEFRA has a key central role to play in raising
awareness of the Summit. A dedicated team has been set up specifically
to co-ordinate domestic preparations. The Communications Strategy
(copy attached), which has been agreed by MISC 18, outlines
how we propose to do this, working with partners across government
and civil society. We are in the process of setting up a wider
stakeholder group to consider the Strategy and identify ways in
which we can work together more effectively to take forward some
of these ideas. The group will also provide an opportunity for
organisations and individuals to feed in any views they might
have on UK preparations.
Our "audience" is a diverse one and
ranges from the knowledgeable and interested to those with little
knowledge and/or interest and we recognise that we need to approach
those groups in different ways. We believe that by working with
as wide a group as possible we will have more success in raising
awareness of the Summit and highlighting its relevance at both
the local and international level.
The Sustainable Development Website is also
a key tool in ensuring that information is made available to individuals
and organisations. We held a discussion forum on the site last
summer to give people an opportunity to say what they felt was
important for the Summit. The response was disappointing but we
are considering doing something similar, closer to the event,
which we hope will generate more interest. We are currently re-designing
the WSSD section of the site to make it more informative and user-friendly
(details in the Communications Strategy).
The key project that we are currently funding
(with DFES and the Devolved Administrations) is the WWF "Our
World" Project. The aim of the project is to actively engage
young people in preparations for the Summit. Schools in England,
N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been invited to submit sustainable
development projects and the four winners will get a "makeover"
for their school and the opportunity to go to the Summit. There
are also associated web-site activities.
In addition to these key projects we have been
working with a variety of partners in a variety of ways to raise
awareness of the Summit. These include:
Other Government Departments//Devolved
Administrations/Government Offices: the WSSD inter-departmental
group provides a forum within which DEFRA (and other departments)
can inform colleagues about progress on preparations and consult
on proposals like the communications strategy. All departments
have agreed to identify relevant opportunities to promote WSSD
at either Ministerial or official level (speeches, conferences,
articles etc), to link any relevant websites to the Sustainable
Development site, to advise us on groups/individuals to invite
to join the wider stakeholder group and where appropriate to link
WSSD to any existing/planned campaigns (using the agreed logo
where possible). DEFRA's Director of Communications has written
to colleagues in other Departments to highlight the importance
and relevance of the Summit. We are also working closely with
DFID on taking forward some of the proposals in the strategy.
Local Authorities: we are
working closely with the Local Government Association (LGA) and
the Local Government International Bureau (LGIB). We have visited
Leicester CC and visits to other authorities are planned. We have
also attended relevant meetings/conferences and we spoke at the
LGA/LGIB's recent seminar on preparations for WSSD.
MPs: the Secretary of State
for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs wrote to all MPs in
January informing them about the Summit (letter attached).
NGOs: we are working closely
with the Development and Environment Group (DEG) of NGOs to raise
awareness of the Summit. In addition we have had individual meetings
with organisations like the Woodland Trust, WWF, Tearfund and
Water Aid to identify ways in which we can work together more
UNED-UK: we are funding UNED-UK
to raise awareness across a wider range of civil society (including
women) and are working closely with them to ensure that the views
of civil society are fed into the preparatory process. In addition,
Ministers have spoken at UNED-UK events and officials have attended
Other organisations: other
meetings/presentations include the TUC, Business (outside the
five sectoral initiatives), Science Museum, the Royal Society,
the National Forest, the Sustainable Development Commission (who
are also members of the inter-departmental group), the Inner Cities
Religious Council and others. The aim of all these meetings has
been to share information and to look for ways in which we might
We recognise that there is more to do before
the Summit and we will continue to work with other government
departments, organisations and individuals to raise awareness
of the Summit.
6. Please outline the role of the Sustainable
Development Unit in the preparations for the World Summit
DEFRA has lead responsibility within Whitehall
for promoting sustainable development, including monitoring progress
and reporting on the sustainable development strategy, developing
the departmental strategy for sustainable development, supporting
the work of the Green Ministers Committee and improving access
to environmental information and justice, and encouraging public
The major role of SDU in regards to preparation
for the Summit is its lead in monitoring and reporting progress,
namely the preparation in September 2001 of the Review and Assessment
of progress made by the United Kingdom in the implementation of
Agenda 21 at National and Regional Levels (copy attached) which
will assist the UK in National Preparations for the Summit, and
the Government Annual Report on Sustainable Development 2001 which
as well as updating on national progress towards sustainable development
also has extensive features on the forthcoming Summit. The updated
version of the Country Profile will also be submitted to
the UN in March 2002, this will be used as part of the global
preparatory process for the Summit.
In addition to paper reporting, the upkeep of
the Government's Sustainable Development website is also the responsibility
of SDU. Considerable work has been carried out in conjunction
with Environment Protection International Division (DEFRA) on
providing the most up-to date information on the Summit. As part
of the drive to involve civil society in the preparations, the
website has also played host to a number of discussion forums
on the Summit and domestic preparatory process.
The Unit also plays an important function in
its advisory capacity both across Government and civil society.
7. Please set out which sustainable development
indicators DEFRA has lead responsibility for and other indicators
the department considers that its policies significantly influence.
DEFRA has a wide range of responsibilities,
this means protection of the urban, rural, marine and global environment
as well as food, farming and fisheries issues and rural affairs.
With regard to the "headline indicators"
which make up the "quality of life barometer", DEFRA
has lead responsibility on: H10Air Quality; H12 River Water
Quality; H13 Wildlife; H15 Waste, on H9 Climate Change (in relation
to which it has a joint PSA with DTI).
In addition there are a number of "core
indicators" which are the responsibility of, or influenced
significantly by, DEFRA. In particular many of those relating
to managing the environment and resources in sections M, N, P,
Q, R and S in `Quality of life counts' (1999, DETR).