124. Business has been engaging in the PrepCom process
through Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD). BASD
is a joint initiative of the International Chamber of Commerce
(ICC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development
(WBCSD). The organisation has been formed to ensure that business
rallies its collective forces for WSSD. Its key aim is to mobilise
and present business organisations' own initiatives which demonstrate
progress against Agenda 21.
125. Some have questioned the degree of leadership
shown by the business community on sustainability issues in the
run-up to the Summit.
UNED-UK hopes that future collaboration with DEFRA, BASD, and
the Prime Minister's business initiatives will draw business interests
further into the debate.
126. Sheila McCabe, Head of DEFRA's Environment Protection
International Division, told us that until the WSSD agenda was
refined it was hard for business to devote time and resources
to such a wide agenda.
Mrs Beckett expected the business community to become more engaged
when they could "actually see what there is to engage with".
She highlighted the important work already being done on the financial
services initiative (one of the Prime Minister's five sectoral
initiatives set out in para 71) by the City of London and others
on developing a set of principles to ensure that consideration
of the impact of private financing on sustainable development
is mainstreamed into City activities.
The major financial service companies will be asked to commit
to implementing these Principles on a voluntary basis.
127. In a supplementary memorandum, the DPM confirmed
that the Government believed that business could play a key role
in poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable development
and was therefore encouraging greater engagement from businessparticularly
at WSSD. We note
that Mr Scot Ghagan, Senior External Affairs Adviser at Shell
International, is currently on secondment from DEFRA to help BASD
engage in the Summit. Mr Ghagan gave evidence to us as a Steering
Committee Member of BASD.
UK Preparatory Mechanisms
for the Summit
128. In this section we discuss the key elements
of the Whitehall machinery which has been put in place for the
Summit. A full run-down of the UK's preparations is provided in
This information is also available on the Government's sustainable
129. It is widely recognised by NGOs and others that
the UK is one of the most advanced in preparing for the Summit
both domestically and internationally. However, even the UK could
be said to have got off to a fairly slow start in preparing for
the Summit. UNED-UK advocated preparations in 1998 but these didn't
really get underway until late in 2000.
John Prescott acknowledged this although he pointed out that the
UK had been actively participating in other relevant UN conferences.
He explained that the UK had been very much caught up in trying
to progress the Kyoto agreement and had put a lot of political
energy into that because "the public felt that something
was going wrong in climate change".
130. It is also likelybut impossible to provethat
the post-election reorganisation of Whitehall and departmental
responsibilities in June 2001 disrupted UK preparations. The Environment
Protection Group and Wildlife and Countryside Directorate were
transferred to the newly created Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs from their previous home, the now defunct Department
for Environment, Transport and the Regions. As we commented in
our report on this restructuring,
this kind of large-scale reorganisation risks diverting both senior
and junior personnel from their main task of policy development
and delivery. Indeed Mrs Beckett acknowledged that the industrial
dispute in particular which DEFRA was subject to early in its
creation, had had an impact on the department's overall work and
there had been some concerns that DEFRA's services to stakeholders
might be affected.
131. Witnesses praised the efforts of DEFRA's Environment
Protection International division. UNED-UK told us that they had
the sense that the team did not have the resources to do as much
as they would like.
Mrs Beckett told us that she was "reasonably well resourced"
for the Summit with a team of twelve, full time and enthusiastic
staff. LGIB commented
that UNED-UK had also performed well despite scarce resources.
132. We find UK preparations for WSSD 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.