Memorandum from the Scottish Executive
1. This paper addresses the points raised
in the Committee Clerk's letter of 6 February 2002 to Ross Finnie
MSP, Minister for Environment and Rural Development at the Scottish
Executive requesting information on the Executive's role in contributing
to the UK's preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
2. The Executive's main work has been to
fulfil its obligations in such a way as to also achieve raised
awareness of sustainable development in Scotland.
3. We have devoted a good deal of effort
to our stakeholder consultation to assess progress in Scotland
on the agreements made at Rio and the views of the priorities
for the future. We undertook a major consultation using Scottish
Civic Forum and supervised by Steering Group chaired by the Executive
but comprising a wide range of interests including business, the
church, trade unions, local government and NGOs. The consultation
received financial support from BT and Shell.
4. It comprised three seminars in Inverness,
Newton St Boswells and Glasgow in June last year which attracted
a total of around 240 representatives of a wide range of organisations
plus a few interested individuals. It was followed by an electronic
consultation addressing the theme of "What sort of Scotland
do we want to live in?" run by the International Teledemocracy
Centre at Napier University, Edinburgh. This consultation sought
to provide those unable to attend the seminars with an opportunity
to use innovate technology to make their veiws known to the Executive.
Around 400 comments were received. A paper summarising the outcomes
of the consultations will be forwarded to Whitehall shortly as
part of the process to prepare a UK Report to the Summit.
5. The Scottish Executive takes the view
that, although a number of the main issues likely to be discussed
at Johannesburg are reserved matters, the event is likely to be
important in setting the agenda for the future. In addition the
publicity surrounding the Summit will provide an opportunity to
raise the profile and understanding of sustainable development
at home. Scottish Ministers have therefore been keen to attend
MISC 18 when diaries permit. Both Mr Finnie and his Deputy Allan
Wilson MSP have attended and hope to do so again in the future.
6. Our interest in MISC is likely to continue
as preparations for Johannesburg move forward. In a major speech
on the environment on 18 February, Jack McConnell, First Minister,
stressed the importance of the Summit. That is likely to mean
that the Executive will not only continue to be involved in MISC
18 but also be involved in events prior to the Summit to raise
awareness. The Environment Group in the Rural Affairs Department
has the lead on World Summit issues and also on MISC 18 involvement.
The Group consults with other parts of the Executive where this
is appropriate. Apart from MISC 18 our main involvement in the
preparations recently has been to encourage Scottish companies
to become involved in the five sectoral initiatives launched by
the Prime Minister.
7. In its Programme for Government published
in 1999, the Scottish Executive committed itself "to integrate
the principles of environmental and socially sustainable development
into all Government policies." This work is led by the Cabinet
Sub-Committee on Sustainable Scotland which has been chaired by
the Environment Minister and includes those Ministers responsible
for a wide range of topics such as Enterprise, Social Justice,
Planning and Health. The Committee also includes two external
members with a third to be appointed soon. The Committee has the
responsibility for initiating action on sustainable development
and taking stock of progress. Since his appointment, the new First
Minister Jack McConnell has decided to chair the Committee to
provide further impetus.
8. On the specific issue of sustainable
development indicators, the Executive has undertaken research
on a range of options and has consulted widely on these amongst
key stakeholders in Scotland. The process is now complete and
it is likely that, within the next month or so, the executive
will announce which indicators it will adopt.