The Environmental Audit Committee has
agreed to the following Report:
UK PREPARATIONS FOR THE WORLD SUMMIT ON
LIST OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Progress since Rio
The global scene
1. Despite the fine words crafted
at the Rio 'Earth Summit', we continue to struggle with the global
problems discussed there whilst new problems continually emerge
The World Summit on Sustainable Development
A true sustainable development summit?
2. We support the Government's decision
to push issues such as poverty eradication and access to clean
water as leading candidates for the World Summit on Sustainable
Development's agenda rather than issues such as climate change
and biodiversity where frameworks of action have largely been
agreed. However, the World Summit on Sustainable Development does
not start with a clean sheet and it is important that these elements
of the Rio process are built upon and not forgotten in the World
Summit on Sustainable Development discussions (para 21).
Developing a new global framwork
3. We believe that tensions between
environment and development stand-points, as displayed by Jonathon
Porritt and Clare Short, need to be resolved (para 24).
4. We strongly endorse the European
Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallström's, view that any
implementation deficit in relation to agreements reached at Johannesburg
will quickly turn into a credibility gap, especially with the
developing world. The Johannesburg Summit provides a unique forum
to provide the ultimate, overarching framework for the integration
of the trade and sustainable development agendas. This framework
should provide the key point of reference for future negotiations
and international agreements (para 30).
Financing the Rio commitments
5. We welcome the Government's commitment
to achieving the 0.7 per cent ODA target and, in line with the
International Development Committee, recommend that a clear timetable
be set (para 36).
6. We commend the Prime Minister
for leading by example by being the first world leader to announce
his intention to attend the Summit. Such high level leadership
is crucial to advancing the sustainable development agenda both
domestically and abroad. The Prime Minister's attendance needs
to be backed up with sustained, political engagement back home
from both himself and all his Cabinet Ministers (para 44).
7. We recognise that high level attendance
at the World Summit on Sustainable Development is vital if the
event is to generate the necessary political momentum to "reawaken
the Rio spirit". We therefore urge the Prime Minister and
the Cabinet to continue in their efforts to encourage other world
leaders, in particular President George W Bush, to attend the
Summit (para 46).
Facilitating the full participation of other
8. We welcome the work of the Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for International
Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to facilitate
the participation of other nations in the Summit. We regret that
some large EU countries have not yet committed funds to support
the Summit and urge the UK Government to explore with the EU Commission
ways of encouraging them to do so (para 50).
Developing the Summit's agenda
9. We very much welcome the involvement
of a wide range of stakeholders in the preparations for the Summit.
We also accept that this involvement brings many more competing
bids for the World Summit on Sustainable Development's emerging
agenda (para 59).
10. We acknowledge that the Government
has developed focused UK priorities which mesh relatively well
with the emerging EU and UN priorities. It is crucial that the
UK also continues to work towards ensuring that the World Summit
on Sustainable Development agenda which is agreed at PrepCom IV
is clear and sharply defined. Otherwise, there is a real danger
that the Summit will merely present an opportunity for many nations
to engage in an bewildering array of discussions relating to economics,
development or the environment in isolation rather than exploring
the interface between them (para 60).
The emerging global wish list
11. We note that poverty eradication
is emerging as a uniting theme for the World Summit on Sustainable
Development. We acknowledge that this issue is a prime candidate
for a Summit agenda which is seeking to explore global problems
in the context of their economic, social and environmental impacts.
We therefore hope that the Government will endeavour to ensure
that any additional resources agreed at Monterrey are linked explicitly
to key action programmes to be discussed at the World Summit on
Sustainable Development rather than relegating the Summit to a
rehearsal of old stalemates on development policy (para 63).
UK expectations for The World Summit on Sustainable
12. We accept the Deputy Prime Minister's
concerns that expectations of the World Summit on Sustainable
Development should not be over-ambitious if there is to be international
consensus. However, expectations should not be pitched too low
either. We cannot risk underestimating the nature of the taskachieving
consensus and progress on issues such as poverty eradication and
access to basic resources such as freshwater, is an ambitious
challenge in itself. It will require the UK and other participating
nations to be wholeheartedly committed at the outset to engage
in delivering some new momentum in these areas (para 66).
13. We support the UK Government's
push for practical, project-orientated, (Type 2) outcomes from
the Summit (para 67).
UK priorities for the Summit
14. The Confederation of British
Industry has applauded the Government for taking this sectoral
approach which it sees as the most effective way of engaging business
in the preparations for the Summit.
Mrs Beckett explained that this initiative was designed to provide
a clear pathway for the business community to become involved
in the Summit. We commend the Government for this innovative approach
Influencing the EU agenda
15. We believe that the Government
should be advocating discussion of the agenda for the World Summit
on Sustainable Development by the European Council of Ministers
(in all its formations) just as all departments within the UK
Government should be engaged with the preparations for the Summit.
This would be consistent with the spirit of the 'Cardiff process'
for environmental policy integration which the Government itself
instigated during its EU Presidency in 1998 (para 77).
16. We are concerned that the Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seeking to portray
the latest quality of life indicators as demonstrating improvement
in UK quality of life when in fact the picture is mixed. Areas
such as landuse, traffic and violent crime show worrying trends
Reporting to the UN
17. In September 2001, the UK Government
published its country report entitled "Review and Assessment
of Progress made by the United Kingdom in the implementation of
Agenda 21 at National and Regional Levels" to assist its
preparations for the Summit. Disappointingly, this is little more
than a list of every UK initiative related to a social, economic
or environmental policy. It contains no critical assessment of
where the UK has got to in the implementation of Agenda 21 and
is not the warts and all assessment that the UN is seeking (para
Structures and processes
18. We acknowledge that the Government
has put in place much of the machinery necessary to generate policies
with sustainable development at their heart. However, these are
far from delivering their full potential because few departments
consider sustainable development to be central to their activities
19. We recommend that the Government
makes efforts to ensure that all departments make full use of
the structures and processes which have already been set up to
deliver policies consistent with sustainable development. Such
engagement will be key to implementing any new commitments agreed
at Johannesburg (para 103).
Generating Enthusiasm and Action at Home
Presenting clear messages
20. It is important that Ministers
across Government take on a leadership role in explaining and
articulating sustainable development as it relates to particular
policy areas. We fully endorse the Sustainable Development Commission's
suggestion that each Cabinet Minister should make a key note speech
on a sustainable development theme in the run up to the Summit
21. Unfortunately, we find that many
departments cannot point to any awareness raising activities linked
to the Summit at all and have yet to flag up the event through
their websites or even provide links to the Government's sustainable
development website (para 119).
22. We welcome the preparation of
the Government Communications Strategy for the World Summit on
Sustainable Development. However, the late appearance of this
strategy means that there has been little impetus for departments
to start to 'drip-feed' messages about the Summit at an early
stage. Now, with five months until the Summit, there is little
evidence of a sound foundation of public awareness upon to which
to launch a more powerful media offensive nearer the Summit itself.
It is crucial that the Government makes good use of the time it
has left to generate some enthusiasm for the event (para 120).
23. We support the recommendation
of the Sustainable Development Commission that all Cabinet Ministers
should make a key note speech on sustainable development in the
run up to the Summit (para 121).
UK Preparatory Mechanisms for the Summit
24. We find UK preparations for the
World Summit on Sustainable Development to be comprehensive and
well organised despite inadequate resources, particularly within
DEFRA. Although we would have welcomed an earlier start to these
preparations, we commend the Government for its strategic and
inclusive approach (para 132).
UK Government and other structures
25. We note that DTLR intends to
publish its departmental sustainable development strategy in the
run up to the Summit. However, we are disappointed that DTLR did
not take up the opportunity to send a representative to attend
PrepCom II bearing in mind its responsibilities relating to regional
policy (para 136).
The devolved administrations
26. We would welcome high level participation
in the Johannesburg Summit from all the Devolved Assemblies (para
1 Ev 156. Back