Memorandum from The World Wildlife Fund
UK (WWF UK)
WWF UK is pleased to have an opportunity to
submit this evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee. WWF
UK is part of a network with 52 offices working in over 90 countries
around the world and was directly involved in the 1992 UN conference
on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro. We have been
working with partners in developing policy and activities for
the WSSD for the past two years.
There is no doubt that the last ten years have
seen an increase in environmental degradation,
a growth in absolute poverty and greater inequity in and between
countries, in spite of the many fine words promulgated in Rio.
Thus the picture as we work towards the Johannesburg
Summit is largely unchanged from ten years ago. The same problems
exist and sustainable development is still the goalto improve
the quality of human life for this and future generations while
living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems.
Globalisation is now the overarching context in which development
is occurringone that was not addressed in Rio. The need
to ensure that globalisation works for and does not undermine
sustainable development is the new challenge.
How the UK is formulating its own contribution
to the World Summit, the nature of this contribution and the range
of stakeholders involved
1.1 We believe that the Prime Minister was
the first Head of State to commit to attend the World Summit,
thus providing an important lead to others. DEFRA and DFES have
provided funding for schools initiatives through WWF and RSPB
in order to engage young people. The main instrument through which
the Government has engaged with other members of civil society
is through UNED-UK which has been running a multi-stakeholder
process in order to identify UK priority areas and actions for
the Government to take forward. There is of course a danger in
relying on any one outreach method which may not capture all the
interested parties which is why we also welcome DEFRA's support
for the UK Development and Environment Groupa working group
of BOND which brings together development and environment NGOs.
Through this process, the UK Government has also invited NGOs
to participate in the UK delegation for the WSSD preparatory committees.
1.2 The Prime Minister has also spearheaded
five sectoral initiativescovering water, forestry, tourism,
energy and financial services. While progress has been varied
on these so far, we do welcome the concept of partnerships for
sustainable development, which are indeed highlighted in the UN
process as one of the anticipated outcomes. Any such tri-partite
partnerships should, however, have clear and monitorable targets
and should not be seen as a excuse for government inaction or
1.3 There has been a sad lack of interest
in the Summit by the general public, not helped by the lack of
media debate. Where there is awareness that the Summit is taking
place, it is still seen by many as a "green" or environmental
summit. This points to a clear need for the Government to bring
sustainable development home to the electorate and, using the
media and other routes, generate some interest and excitement.
The lead up to the Summit presents an ideal opportunity to reinvigorate
public commitment to sustainable living and to generate a better
understanding of the ways in which consumption patterns can be
changed to improve citizens' quality of life.
1.4 The Government ran a debate on its sustainable
development website preceding the UN/ECE preparatory meeting in
September 2001, but there were few responses. Perhaps this reflects
the limitations of such a medium to reach the majority of people,
particularly without accompanying promotional materials. DEFRA
have themselves acknowledged that involvement of society at large
has been poor to date.
1.5 We welcome the establishment of the
Cabinet Committee to coordinate work on WSSD, but we feel there
is still a lack of engagement by some key departments, such as
the Treasury and DTI. With DEFRA leading on the Summit there is
a risk that sustainable development is seen as an issue about
the environment and is not mainstreamed across government, nor
at the heart of government policy.
1.6 The Government has articulated some
core issues that it would like to take to WSSD and these, for
the most part, fit well with the priority areas that are emerging
from the UN process. But its issues currently lack plans and targets
for actual commitments in Johannesburg, whether in terms of implementation
of Agenda 21 and agreements since Rio or new commitments. The
Government agenda should include actions it will be taking at
home as well as those it will be helping to deliver internationally.
1.7 At the very minimum, by the time WSSD
takes place, the UK Government should have ratified the agreements
made since the Rio Summit, including the Kyoto Protocol and the
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Principle
10 of the Rio Principlesaccess to environmental information,
decision making processes and access to justicehas been
encapsulated by the Aarhus convention at the European regional
level. The UK Government still has to ratify this and we would
urge quick ratification. It would seem a principle to which the
UK Government should commit and encourage others to do likewise.
The ideas are being taken up at a regional level by other governments
to set in place similar regional conventions.
1.8 There are a number of key issues on
which WWF expects the Government to make specific commitments
either before or at WSSD. These include the following:
Energy. This is fundamental to economic
and social development and yet there are 2 billion people without
access to basic energy services in the developing world. Access
to basic, clean energy services is essential for development and
poverty alleviation and provides major benefits in the areas of
health, literacy and equity. The domestic target of 10 per cent
of energy provided by renewables by 2010 is a useful first step
and we support the PIU's recent report which called for this to
be extended to 20 per cent by 2020. We would urge the UK Government
to make a similar commitment to promoting renewables as part of
the development agenda. Therefore we are calling for the Government
to commit to targeting 20 per cent of its energy sector lending
and support in the form of guarantees via the ECGD to renewable
energy development and energy efficiency programmes. We are also
looking for a commitment to promote this target in all International
Financial Institutions which the Government supports.
Forests. The UK Government was instrumental
in encouraging commitments at the G8 Ministerial in 2000 to ensure
government procurement of timber from sustainable sources. Nearly
two years on, no progress has been made. The Government has not
even decided how it will make good on this commitment, even though
it could wield its considerable purchasing power in favour of
sustainable consumption and thus demonstrate a major leadership
role within the EU. The UK Government is, however, to be commended
on playing a part in looking at the widespread problems of illegal
logging by sponsoring workshops on forest law enforcement and
governance in Asia and Africa and looking at ways of promoting
certification and chains of custody. The UK Government is also
sponsoring a workshop on forest landscape restoration this March
in Costa Rica, prior to the UN Forests Forum meetingwhich
is an important approach to restoring environmental degradation
and building natural capital for people, livelihoods and ecosystem
integrity. In the UK, the Forestry Commission is undertaking an
independently reviewed audit of progress since 1992 on its contribution
to the sustainable development agenda in England, Scotland and
Chemicals. Exposure to hazardous chemicals
continues worldwide and many of the chemicals manufactured and
used in the EU and globally have not been tested adequately. The
UK should take the lead in the EU at WSSD pressing for nations
to agree to bring further chemicals under global controls and
to work together as a matter of urgency to identify which chemicals
warrant such controltaking into account the precautionary
Sustainable homes. The Government could
highlight its unique contribution to the above international commitments
by demonstrating a strong domestic agenda at WSSD in the form
of a commitment to develop one million sustainable homes in the
UK by 2007. Such a commitment would demonstrate the UK's willingness
to take action at home to reduce the overseas impact of its consumption
patterns, for example in relation to carbon dioxide emissions,
minimising the use of toxic chemicals and the sourcing of timber
from certified well-managed forests.
Freshwater. About one third of the world's
population lives in countries with moderate to high water stress
and 1.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. The
management of water resources is a critical issue for WSSD. Integrated
River Basin Management (IRBM) is now widely accepted as the most
appropriate approach to address the sustainable management of
the world's limited freshwater resources. It starts from the perspective
that healthy ecosystems are the basis for ensuring reliable supplies
of an optimal mix of goods and services from the freshwater environment.
WWF is urging the UK Government to implement the EU Water Framework
Directive as a good example of freshwater management and to extend
these principles, as indicated in the Bonn Freshwater Meetings
in December 2001, in its funding for development in other countries.
Support for transboundary river initiatives to develop agreement
amongst all users, while maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem
in the long term are of particular importance because conflict
over water resources is increasing in many parts of the world.
WWF is also asking the UK Government to endorse the report of
the World Commission on Dams and to adopt its guidelines.
Marine. At a WWF conference about preparations
for WSSD in March 2001 the Prime Minister committed to launching
measures to improve marine conservation here and abroad, including
a series of marine stewardship reports. WWF has welcomed the forthcoming
marine stewardship report as an important initiative, but the
status of the report and any measures it proposes remain unclear.
The Government's current position for WSSD on marine matters is
good, but there is little evidence yet of a translation of statements
and announcements into clear policy proposals which would create
the necessary framework for managing the marine environment in
a holistic way.
1.9 The role of the devolved countries of
the UK in the WSSD process is far from clear. In order to demonstrate
that the UK is bringing government closer to the people and to
foster a strong sense of ownership of the agenda at the local
and regional level, the inclusion of devolved administrations
in priority setting and in UK delegations should be a key aim.
Initiatives in the devolved administrations (see paras 3.4-3.11)
complement those of Westminster and could, if taken as part of
a package, demonstrate a much stronger commitment to sustainable
development by the UK as a whole.
1.10 The First Minister in Scotland, in
his first major environmental speech on 18 February, indicated
his intention that Scotland should be represented at WSSD at the
highest level. WWF would welcome any clarification the Committee
can secure from the Government that the heads of devolved administrations
will, indeed, be part of the UK's delegation to Johannesburg.
1.11 In Northern Ireland little has been
initiated by Government although it part-funded a conference in
September 2001, organised by Sustainable Northern Ireland Programme
and WWF, at which a broad section of civic society formulated
a NI contribution to the UK national progression, fed back through
UNED. The NI Department of Environment has also been very co-operative
in supporting the WWF Our World schools challenge. The long overdue
consultation on a SD strategy for NI will begin in March 2002.
The NI Civic Forum has embraced the SD agenda and devoted a full
day's plenary meeting to its consideration in February 2002. It
has now initiated research to assess progress in NI since Rio
and make recommendations to Government.
How the UK is helping to raise awareness of the
Summit in other nations and facilitate contributions to the proceedings
2.1 The Government has provided funding
for the South African government, through DFID, and funding for
southern civil society participation in the process, through FCO.
This is obviously important and welcome. In terms of other governments,
we are aware of contributions from Sweden and Denmark to help
facilitate the process in South Africa and for coordination amongst
NGOs in north and south.
2.2 There has been a serious lack of links
made between the Finance for Development process and the WSSDalthough
to some extent this is now being rectified at a very late date.
It is clear that Agenda 21 cannot be implemented and that the
Millenium Development Goals will not be reached without a real
commitment to additional finance and resources. So far, the Financing
For Development process has signally failed to encapsulate the
concept of sustainable development throughout its deliberations
and its six focal areas. In order to give real hope for outcomes
at WSSD, ministers attending Finance for Development meeting in
March should endorse the principles of sustainable development
to achieve poverty eradication, equitable economic growth and
2.3 Four EU member states have reached or
exceeded the pledge for 0.7 per cent of GNI for overseas development
aid. The UK Government should not lag behind but should make a
commitment to achieve this target by the end of this parliament
in order to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals of which
the costs are estimated to require a doubling of ODA. It is to
be commended that the Government recognises that effective aid
should build on recipient country development priorities, but
also concentrate on lifting people out of poverty and maintaining
the environmental resources upon which the current generation
and future generations depend for a healthy and good quality of
2.4 In this respect, we welcome DFID's partnership
with the European Commission, UNDP and the World Bank in producing
a consultation paper on "Linking Poverty Reduction and Environmental
Management" as a contribution to WSSD and look forward to
positive policies for simultaneously addressing poverty and environmental
2.5 In terms of the EU, the Commission Communication
on the External Dimension of Sustainable Development, which is
also intended to provide an EU agenda for WSSD, has finally been
presented. It is disappointing in terms of a credible and sound
strategy to promote sustainable development and contains nothing
new to end the overexploitation of natural resources. There are
very few measurable targets and it is mostly a summary of existing
EU programmes and policies. Regarding ODA, it sets a target for
the EU at 0.33 per cent overall, well below the UN commitment
of 0.7 per cent.
The extent to which the UK Government has adequately
monitored UK progress on sustainable development and the issues
mapped out in Agenda 21 since 1992 as part of its preparations
for the Summit
3.1 The UK Government produced a strategy
for sustainable development following the Rio Summit and this
was updated in 1999A Better Quality of Life for All, accompanied
later that year by a set of indicators to monitor progress. The
report in January 2001 showed little change on the groundsome
of the were trends good, others neutral and others were becoming
worse. We are not convinced that the choice of indicators truly
reflect sustainable development progress when they include resource
efficiency indicators that do not acknowledge increases in consumption,
thus offsetting any apparent gains made. The sustainable development
strategy for the UK is also weak on the international dimension,
failing to include indicators to reduce our environmental and
social impacts on other parts of the world and thus the sustainable
development options of others. In contrast, the Welsh Assembly
has adopted Wales' ecological footprint as one of its eleven headline
indicators (see paragraph 3.3). Interestingly, the footprint indicator
in Wales has generated more interest than all the others put together.
Further, one might question the UK Government's definition of
sustainable development which includes the maintenance of high
and stable levels of economic growth. Economic development has
to take place within the carrying capacity of the planet, and
with regard for the options of future generations, and cannot
continue to grow beyond this threshold which we have already exceeded.
3.2 The UK Government has been active within
OECD-DAC in identifying and promoting key principles and mechanisms
for developing and implementing a national strategy for sustainable
development. The Committee might like to assess to what extent
these principles were followed in the adoption of the UK's own
strategy. These are: integration of economic, social and environmental
objectives, and balance across sectors, territories and generations;
broad participation and effective partnerships; country ownership
and commitment; developing capacity and an enabling environment;
and focus on outcomes and means of implementation.
3.3 The Committee might like to consider
the roles of the Round Table on Sustainable Development and now
the Sustainable Development Commission and to evaluate the influence
their advice and reports have had on UK Government policy. The
UK Sustainable Development Commission has been set up both to
advise and to audit government progress on sustainable development.
Thus it is also important to audit the activities of the SDC and
their impact on government policy on behalf of UK stakeholders.
The limited remit of the SDC, in terms of only covering the domestic
agenda, severely restrains its ability to tackle some of the areas
where the UK has the biggest impact on sustainable developmentthat
is on developing countries, in terms of trade and consumption
patterns, in particular.
Progress in the devolved administrations
3.4 In Wales, the requirement to publish
a Sustainable Development Scheme was incorporated in the Government
of Wales Act 1999, which established the National Assembly for
Wales. The legal status of this Scheme, and the requirement to
consult and review, makes this initiative unique. The Assembly
is adopting the global footprint approach as a headline indicator
for its sustainable development measurement. The Assembly will
be releasing its "Year 1" Report on its Sustainable
Development Scheme and its indicators at a joint conference on
Wales' contribution to WSSD with WWF Cymru and Oxfam on April
17. WWF Cymru will be jointly publishing a report on the footprint
of Wales with the Welsh Assembly in time for this conference.
3.5 In Scotland progress on developing a
comprehensive Sustainable Development Strategy has been frustratingly
slow. It should be noted however that the First Minister made
an unprecedented commitment to "step up the action"
on sustainable development in February 2002. This was warmly welcomed
by WWF and is seen widely as the beginning of concerted action
in Scotland to make a real difference to preparations for the
Summit. See appendix 1.
3.6 For some time the Scottish Executive
have worked with a strategy to address Waste, Energy and Travelbut
this has been rejected by stakeholders as unconvincing and lacking
credibility (see appendix 2, Reality Check Report, WWF October
2001). There are still no indicatorsand very few targets
for measuring progress have been adopted. It is almost impossible
to gain a rounded view of progress in Scotland due to this lack
of a strategy with measurable indicators. On the WET strategy,
levels of climate emissions have not been significantly reduced
with waste production hardly reduced and recycling rates at a
very low 6 per cent.
3.7 In the first Partnership for Scotland
agreed by the Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition in 1999, a
clear commitment was made: "We will integrate the principles
of environmentally and socially sustainable development into all
government policies . . . We will work to promote environmentally
and socially sustainable economic development." The Scottish
Parliament has in place a "sustainable development"
mechanisma policy memorandum to assess effects on sustainable
development attached to each piece of legislation. Research carried
out for the organisation Scottish Environment LINK reveals that
such an assessment had been included in 18 bills introduced by
the Executive before 26 January 2001. But in 12 cases, including
bills on education, finance and feudal tenure, the assessment
was a simple statement that the bill would have "no effects"
on sustainable development. A few assessments suggested that the
legislative change would have a positive impact, but even they
were "shallow", according to author Hazel Clark. "There
appeared to be a lack of consistency in the vision of sustainability
underpinning the statements and in the main there was generally
a failure to consider the comprehensive implications of bills,"
she concluded. The solution, she recommended, was to strengthen
the assessments by introducing minimum criteria, scrutiny and
3.8 During 2001 a series of "Future
Scotland" seminars and an e-consultation by a coalition of
partners including the Executive and the Scottish Civic Forum
reached a new audience but revealed that it is hard for people
to connect with sustainable development. The consultation process
raised the themes of recycling; the potential of renewables; changing
lifestyles; community development; transport; education/public
awareness; energy efficient buildings; resource use/efficiency.
The results of the consultation will be used to inform the Scottish
contribution to the UK report.
3.9 A seminar hosted by the Scottish Executive
with key stakeholders was held in December 2001 to assess progress
on sustainable development and preparations for the World Summit.
A note of this meeting is attached in appendix 3. This noted the
that lack of a comprehensive strategy was holding back action.
Its main conclusions were:
a welcome for the Executive's new
initiative announced in October, to strengthen the Ministerial
Group on Sustainable Development, that a set of indicators be
adopted, to make a clear statement on what sustainable development
meant for the Executive and the setting up of a Sustainable Development
Forumall to be in place by January 2002. First Minister
attendance at the Summit was strongly recommended.
Seminar participants regarded the
preparation process to be as important as the content of Scotland's
input to the WSSD. Exchange and dialogue is vital at the Summit.
It was felt important to build on existing achievements, reaching
a common agenda through constructive dialogue. The FutureScotland
consultation was regarded as useful in this respect but much more
could be done. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
has begun work on a sustainable development strategy for the voluntary
sector, working with organisations to encourage them to make links
with other sectors. Other organisations and businesses could be
doing the same with leadership and support from government.
3.10 There was support for a major conference
to be held in Scotland in May/June 2002 inviting key representatives
of different sectors (eg waste, energy, travel, food and tourism)
to present the current situation in their sector, identify how
the sustainability challenge is to be met and the partnerships
that will be needed to effect change.
3.11 In Northern Ireland, progress on producing
a sustainable development strategy has also been frustratingly
slow but progress is being made on green procurement policies
by the government agencies. The NI LA21 Advisory Group made its
final report to the NI Environment Minister in September 2000,
which summarised the breadth of sustainable development/LA21 initiatives
that have been generated in NI among all sectors of society. Most
progress has been achieved by local authorities and the community
sector. The Civic Forum report referred to above will build upon
and update this report. Every Council has made a stated commitment
to LA21 and sustainable development, but implementation is more
fragmented, although some Councils have made significant advances,
including sustainable development indicators and annual monitoring.
The Executive in NI has not yet perceived sustainable development
as an issue of importance; its promotion falls to an under-funded
and under-staffed section of DoE which is already crippled by
a backlog of infrastructural shortcomings leading to the threat
of EU sanctions for missed deadlines on Directives. In effect
the sustainable development agenda is being driven by local government
22 February 2002
10 The Living Planet Report 2000, WWF. Back