Memorandum from The National Assembly
Uniquely amongst EU nations, the National Assembly
for Wales has sustainable development (SD) built into its constitution,
through section 121 of the Government of Wales Act.
The Assembly is keenly interested in preparations
for the World Summit on Sustainable Development ("the summit").
Though we have few functions in the fields of international development
or foreign affairs, we nonetheless feel we have something to contribute
to the success of the Summit, primarily through our efforts to
put SD into practice.
In regard to the Summit, we ensure that:
people in Walesyoung people
especiallyhave an opportunity to contribute to discussions
about the Summit;
Wales' distinctive experience in
SD is made accessible to any country or region that wishes to
draw upon it;
we can learn from good practice in
other countries and regions; and
Wales contributes to implementing
the outcomes of the Summit.
Section 121 of the Government of Wales Act requires
the Assembly to consult upon and then make a Scheme setting out
how it will promote sustainable development in the exercise of
its functions; to keep its Scheme under review, to consider at
least every four years whether the Scheme needs to be revised
or remade; and to report each year on its implementation and every
four years on its effectiveness.
In November 2000, after wide-ranging consultation,
the Assembly adopted its Sustainable Development Scheme, "Learning
to Live Differently" (available at http://www.wales.gov.uk//newsite.dbs?
date+11 2000). This now provides the over-arching framework for
all the Assembly's work, and runs through the Assembly's corporate
plan, "Plan for Wales 2001."
The Scheme sets out the definition of sustainable
development which the Assembly is using, expanded into a vision
of a sustainable Wales, and describes the interface between itself
and the UK Government's Sustainable Development Strategy. It then
spells out how the Assembly will translate its vision into action
changing the way it takes decisions:
this means reviewing all inherited policies and programmes, and
ensuring all new policies and programmes reflect sustainable development
linking key strategies together;
specific policy actions;
working with others in Europe, the
UK and with its statutory partners and others within Wales;
using indicators and targets for
monitoring and reporting on progress.
An Action Plan to put this into effect was adopted
by the Assembly in March 2001 (available at http://www.wales.gov.uk//newsite.dbs?37B1A026000BF4FD0000436C00000000
+current+3A93AE4A0000CF340000144700000000+cur date+02 2001).
Under the terms of the Scheme and Action Plan,
sustainable development is being "mainstreamed" into
the way the Assembly operates, so that all key policies and programmes
reinforce each other and promote sustainable development. This
characterises the Assembly's approach to sustainable development.
Sustainable development is of course taken into account in the
annual budgeting process, but other structures and mechanisms
have been and are being put in place too.
In Spring 2001, the Assembly's Cabinet established
a Sub-Committee specifically concerned with SD, chaired by Rhodri
Morgan, First Minister and Minister for Economic Development.
Other members are: Sue Essex, Minister for Environment; Carwyn
Jones, Rural Development Minister; and Jenny Randerson, Acting
Deputy First Minister and Minister for Culture, Sport and the
Welsh Language. Its terms of reference are to monitor, evaluate
and secure delivery of the commitments in the Assembly's Sustainable
Development Scheme and Action Plan. Papers and minutes, like those
of the Assembly's Cabinet, are published on the internet (see
An internal cross-party liaison group on sustainable
development is being established.
An external expert panel on which the Assembly
can call to help develop its sustainable development agenda is
being convened under the leadership of a Welsh member of the UK's
Sustainable Development Commission.
The Welsh Assembly Government is very pleased
to have entered into 3-year partnership with Forum for the Future,
a leading UK sustainable development charity, who are helping
with development of a top-level policy appraisal tool (which should
be valuable for reviews as well as appraisal) and with integrating
SD into a range of other policies. The appraisal tool is based
upon the "Plan for Wales 2001," and is being designed
as an aid to policy integration, including the mainstreaming of
all the Assembly's cross-cutting themes.
New strategic policies have been and are being
designed so that they will contribute towards achieving a sustainable
Wales. Key strategies have been developed in parallel one with
another, and are intended to be mutually supporting.
A new strategy document for agriculture,
"Farming for the FutureA new direction for farming
in Wales," was launched in November 2001. It seeks to deliver
a future for farming in Wales that is economically, socially and
environmentally more sustainable and that involves coherent delivery
of these complementary objectives.
Transport is at the core of life
in Wales for individuals, businesses and communities. "The
Transport Framework for Wales" was launched in November 2001,
to help deliver a better co-ordinated and sustainable transport
system including improved public transport in Wales. It is intended
to provide a basis on which all the major transport players in
Wales can plan their actions in a structured and co-ordinated
The National Assembly's information
age strategic framework, "Cynru Arlein," was launched
in November 2001 too. The aim is to use ICT to help create a more
prosperous, culturally richer and less divided society. (Details
on the full range of current and planned ICT activities in Wales
can be found are at www.cymruarlein.wales.gov.uk).
"A Winning Wales," launched
in January 2002, sets out a national economic development strategy
that explicitly strives to put development on a more sustainable
basis in terms of eco-efficiency and equity, and to trade upon
the opportunities that sustainable development could offer.
The "Communities First"
programme seeks to create sustainable and lasting solutions to
the problems of people in some of Wales' most disadvantaged communities.
Draft planning guidance for Wales
was issued for consultation in February 2001, and new guidance
is now being prepared for publication. In addition, a Wales Spatial
Plan should be ready by the end of 2002.
There has been considerable progress on other
policies and strategies that will contribute specifically to major
elements of SD, not least:
Wales' Structural Fund programmes,
particularly under Objective 1;
A draft waste strategy;
A programme of action to reduce emissions
of greenhouse gases;
health impact assessment;
the Tir Gofal scheme, which supports
environmentally-friendly farming practice;
the "Green Dragon" environmental
standard, aimed at small and medium sized companies;
the Environment Development Fund,
which supports "sustainability test-bed" projects in
Wales' three National Parks;
a successful bid for European Commission
support for a four million Euro programme, under the ERDF Regional
Programme of Innovation Actions. (A related proposal for a pan-European
inter-regional innovation and good practice network, in which
Wales would be the designated lead region is being reworked).
The Assembly has also been looking at its own
operations, in order to lead by example. The Welsh Assembly Government:
has launched a new sustainable approach
to its procurement"Winning our business" to help
companies improve their sustainability credentials on the back
of winning contracts from the Assembly; and
has prepared new green house-keeping
and green transport policies.
The Scheme recognises that the Assembly can
only achieve sustainable development by working with its partners.
The Assembly Government:
is negotiating a compact on SD with
Welsh local government;
is looking a assisting development
of an internet-based voluntary sector SD network;
held a major Business and Environment
conference in October 2001;
is fostering links with academic
institutions throughout Wales, to strengthen development of evidence-based
has established an Advisory Panel
on Education for SD, to ensure that its educational work on SD
is based on a shared understanding.
The executive Assembly-sponsored public bodies
(ASPBs), as key deliverers for Assembly policies, have a key role
to play in delivering SD. They are required to put proposals to
the Assembly for mainstreaming SD into their programmes.
To underpin its statutory reporting obligations,
the Assembly has adopted a small number of indicators of sustainable
development. Work is on hand to identify further indicators. Most
recent values of those already adopted are as follows.
|Employment||Percentage of working age people in work
||68.1 per cent||2001|
|Education||Percentage of people at age 19 with NVQ level 2 qualifications or equivalent
||72 per cent||2000|
|Housing||Percentage of unfit dwellings
||8.5 per cent||1998|
|Crime||Crime rates per 100,000 population for:
| ||(i)Theft of and from a vehicle
| ||(ii)Burglary in a dwelling
| ||(iii)Violent crime
|Climate change||Emissions of greenhouse gases (million tonnes carbon equivalent):
| ||Basket of greenhouse gases
|Air quality||Days when air pollution is moderate or higher:
| ||UrbanCardiffSwanseaPort Talbot
| ||RuralAston HillNarberth
|River water quality||The percentage of river lengths of good or fair quality:
| ||Chemical quality
| ||Biological quality
|Wild life||Population of wild birds index
||Data not available||Data not available
|Waste||Household waste in kg per person per year:
| ||(i)Total household waste
| ||(ii)Household waste recycled or composted
|Welsh language||Proportion of people who can speak Welsh:
| ||(i)All aged 3 or over
||18.5 per cent||1991|
| ||(ii)Children aged 3-14
||24 per cent||1991|
|Energy from renewable resources||Percentage of energy produced in Wales generated from renewable sources
||3.2 per cent||2000|
|Ecological footprints||Wales' global ecological footprint in hectares per person
||5.25 hectares per person||various
A statistical bulletin giving further details of these indicators,
and a full report on Wales' Ecological Footprint, will be published
(An ecological footprint is a measure of the productive land
(and sea) area needed to support the way we live. Obviously, land
is needed to grow food, but other environmental impactswater
and energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste disposal, etccan
also be "translated" into land areas. A Footprint can
be calculated for an individual, a family, a firm, a town, an
industry, a region, a country or any group of countries. The Footprint
of Wales has been estimated at 5.25 hectares per person. This
is significantly below the UK and European average, and well below
North American figures. Unfortunately, it is far above the average
"fair earth share" of about 1.92 hectares per person.
If the whole world lived as Wales does, we would need approximately
2¾ earths to support ourselves without exceeding natural
carrying capacity. This illustrates the need to reduce environmental
impacts at the same time as growing the economy. We believe that
the National Assembly is the first government in the world to
adopt the Ecological Footprint as one of its official indicators
of sustainable development).
A detailed account of progress on items listed in the Assembly's
Sustainable Development Action Plan will be included in the Welsh
Assembly Government's own annual report for 2001-02.
The centrepiece of the Welsh Assembly Government's preparations
for the Summit will be a major conference in April. The aim of
the event is to attract a wide audience of NGOs, local government,
business and academic participants to help inform our approach
to the summit. Reflecting our commitment to work in partnership
to promote sustainable development, we are staging the Cardiff
event in conjunction with Oxfam Cymru and WWF Cymru.
We are planning plenary sessions on issues of international
development and climate change, and the First Minister is also
scheduled to speak, but the remainder of the conference will be
designed primarily around a series of workshops on themes we expect
to be important at the World Summit. Our aim is to bring a Welsh
and an international perspective to each theme, and so identity
both what Wales has to learn from others and also what distinctive
experience Wales can take to the Summit. The transactions of the
conference will form part or our "portfolio" for the
Our "portfolio" will also include our SD Scheme
and Action Plan, our 2001-02 statutory Annual Report, the proceedings
of the major Business and Environment conference we staged last
October, and the transactions of 2 further conferences aimed specifically
at young people in Wales. These are being organised for us by
Techniquest and by the Centre for Alternative Technology.
The Assembly is supporting WWF's "Our World" competition.
In addition, we are in discussion with local authorities
in Wales about activities timed to coincide with the Summit, and
about follow-up action to contribute towards implementing the
Sue Essex AM, as Assembly Environment Minister, is invited
to attend MISC18. An official from the Assembly's Sustainable
Development Unit attends the official-level steering group that
prepares for these meetings and previously attended the inter-departmental
group that preceded it.
Assembly members in plenary have decided that the First Minister
should represent Wales at the Summit. Recognising that the composition
of the UK delegation is for the Prime Minister to decide, we have
requested that the First Minister be included in the UK delegation
to the Summit.
The attached Annex addresses the Environmental Audit Committee's