Memorandum from the Department for Transport,
Local Government and the Regions
PREPARATIONS FOR THE WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE
1. This Memorandum addresses the points
raised in the Annex to the Committee Clerk's letter of 31 January
to Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State,
requesting information on how DTLR is contributing to the Government's
preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development,
to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002.
2. DTLR is playing a full part in contributing
to the UK's preparations for the summit and has a particular interest
in domestic awareness both of the event and of sustainable development
What input has your department made to the UK
preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development?
The Committee is aware that each department is
represented on the MISC 18 Ministerial Group on the World Summit
on Sustainable Development chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Please outline how your department co-ordinates its input to this
3. DTLR has been represented at all MISC
18 meetings so far held. The Department is normally represented
at MISC 18 by Dr Whitehead in his role as DTLR Green Minister.
Dr Whitehead is supported by a dedicated sustainable development
team of officials whose responsibilities include advising on DTLR
input to WSSD preparations.
Is MISC 18 the key route by which your department
is contributing to the UK preparations for the World Summit?
4. MISC 18 is the key route at Ministerial
level. At official level, the Department's sustainable development
team is represented on WSSD interdepartmental groups. Work of
the Group has included the development of a communications strategy
5. DTLR is also seeking opportunities to
raise awareness of WSSD among domestic audiences: for example,
there will be a session on WSSD at the Inner Cities Religious
Council (ICRC) meeting on 21 February, when the ICRC Chair (Sally
Keeble) and representatives of the Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim
and Sikh communities will consider how best to engage the faith
communities in summit preparations.
6. More generally, DTLR is developing its
own sustainable development strategy document. We hope to publish
the DTLR strategy in the run-up to WSSD, and that it will thus
contribute to the wider UK preparations for the summit.
Please outline how far other involvement in the
preparations (additional to attendance at MISC 18) came about.
For example, was it by request from another department, instigated
by your department and/or part of your department's ongoing work?
7. DEFRA are taking the lead in co-ordinating
preparations for WSSD, and they have encouraged other departments
to help stimulate interest about the submit among domestic audiences.
The development of DTLR's sustainable development strategy is
part of the DTLR's ongoing work.
Please give details of any papers/strategies/other
work that your department has prepared to support your contribution
to MISC 18 and the UK preparations in general. Has the department
carried out or contributed to any special reviews of progress
connected to preparations for the Johannesburg summit? Have these
been discussed at management board level in your department?
8. DTLR is contributing to the preparations
in a number of ways, both directly and indirectly:
DTLR, together with DEFRA and the
Department of Health, has been developing an integrated policy
appraisal (IPA) methodology. The IPA identifies a series of impact
categories, covering the range of environmental, economic and
social impacts, against which a proposed policy may need to be
appraised. The appraisal tool will be of interest to policy makers
both within and beyond the UK, in that it can be used to assess
the sustainable development impacts of a wide range of policy
proposals. The IPA methodology has been discussed at management
board level and with DTLR Ministers.
DTLR has contributed to the Government's
annual report on sustainable development, to be published in March.
The report will set out the latest position on the sustainable
development indicators contained in "Quality of Life Counts".
Once the Department has finalised
its sustainable development strategy it will be made available
to MISC 18, as well as to ENV(G). The strategy will be discussed
at management board level and will be approved by DTLR Ministers.
Has the Department actively publicised the preparations
for the World Summit and its own involvement?
9. In addition to the ICRC meeting mentioned
above, DTLR will continue to seek opportunities to publicise both
the summit and sustainable development issues more generally.
For example, we have drawn the summit to the attention of the
Women's Transport Network (facilitated by DTLR and consisting
of several hundred contacts both in the UK and overseas).
Please set out which sustainable development indicators
your department has lead responsibility for and which other indicators
the department's policies particularly impact upon.
10. Please see the two tables in the attached
What system does your department have in place
to monitor progress on how far the department's policies are contributing
to UK progress on sustainable development and the issues that
were mapped out in Agenda 21 after the Rio Earth Summit in 1992?
11. The Departmental Annual Report describes
progress on meeting the Department's PSA targets. Each PSA target
relates to one of the sustainable development indicators in the
12. Before the machinery of Government changes
following the 2001 General Election, DTLR's predecessor (the Department
of the Environment, Transport and the Regions) took the lead in
drawing up the UK's sustainable development strategy "A Better
Quality of Life", published in May 1999. The strategy committed
the Government to reporting annually on progress towards sustainable
development as a whole. The strategy, the first annual report
(for 2000) and the forthcoming second annual report (for 2001)
together comprise a comprehensive statement on how the Government
is monitoring progress and meeting the challenge of sustainable
development. DTLR has contributed fully to the forthcoming second
annual report, particularly those sections of it dealing with
the three headline indicators for which the Department has direct
13. In addition, many DTLR (and previously
DETR) activities contribute to the issues mapped out in Agenda
21. Progress on those issues were included in the Government report
"Review and Assessment of progress made by the United Kingdom
in the implementation of Agenda 21 at National and Regional Levels",
published in September 2001.
14. The Department will be considering what
further monitoring and evaluation systems may be necessary, as
part of the development of the DTLR sustainable development strategy.
15. DTLR is supporting the implementation
of the new duty on all principal local authorities to prepare
community strategies. The duty was introduced by the Local Government
Act 2000, which requires that these strategies must contribute
to the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom.
This initiative builds on the success of Local Agenda 21, which
was a major outcome of the Rio Earth Summit, by seeking to ensure
that sustainable development is mainstreamed into all aspects
of local authority activities, and those of their local partners.
The Act also introduced a very broad enabling power for local
authorities to undertake activities which promote the economic,
social and environmental well being of their area.
16. Last December's Local Government White
Paper, "Strong Local LeadershipQuality Public Service",
reiterated that community leadership is based upon the delivery
of sustainable development. It stated that the provision of economic
infrastructure, development of social capital and enhancement
of the environmental quality must not be considered as separate
goals but addressed simultaneously. It also stressed local authorities'
key role in making strategic choices for future generations and
not just dealing with immediate interests and issues. The White
Paper also emphasised the inter-dependency of communities, and
that local authorities are best placed to link local problems
and solution with national and international priorities. To evaluate
the success of this approach, DTLR recently announced revised
Best Value Performance Indicators against which local authorities
will report in 2002-03. Best Value Indicator 1 asks about each
authority's community strategy, including whether there are mechanisms
for measuring economic, social and environmental progress against
short and long term outcomes.