Mechanisms of Horizontal Integration
The UK Government considers that good progress was made between 1994 (when the first UK NSDS was published) and 2010. But it was now necessary to move sustainable development beyond being considered as a separate, ‘green’ issue which is a priority for only a few government departments. Therefore, in February 2011, the Government published "Mainstreaming sustainable development - The Government’s vision and what this means in practice”.
This followed the decision by the Defra Secretary of State in July 2010 to withdraw funding for the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) and with the Devolved Governments agreement, to its closure in March 2011. The SDC was the UK and Devolved Governments’ independent advisory body on sustainable development from 2000-11. Responsibility for sustainable development was therefore fully transferred back into Government, which restored direct Ministerial accountability to Parliament for for this policy area.
Just as leading businesses recognise that sustainability is a core strategic issue and not just a ‘nice to have’, the Government is working to mainstream sustainable development so that it is central to the way we make policy, run our buildings and purchase goods and services. UK Ministers agreed an approach for mainstreaming sustainable development which facilitates horizontal integration in the UK, and in broad terms, consists of: (a) providing ministerial leadership and oversight, (b) leading by example, (c) embedding sustainable development into policy, and (d) transparent and independent scrutiny. Measures to support this include:
(a) Ministerial leadership and oversight:
• The Environment Secretary will sit on the key domestic policy Cabinet committees, including the Economic Affairs Committee, to enforce the Government’s commitment to sustainability across policy making.
• A Ministerial Steering Group will oversee delivery of new Commitments for Greening Government’s Operations and Procurement.
(b) Leading by example:
• Reducing government’s waste generation, water use and carbon emissions. Waste will be cut by 25 per cent (approximately 74,000 tonnes) by the end of this parliament. Best practice water efficiency methods will be put in place across government, as well as a new stretching carbon reduction commitment which builds on the current 10 per cent agreed last year.
• Ensuring the government buys more sustainable and efficient products and engages with its suppliers to understand and reduce the impacts of supply chains.
(c) Embedding sustainable development in government policy
• Defra will take the lead responsibility for reviewing departmental business plans in relation to sustainable development principles. The Minister for Government Policy (based in The Cabinet Office) will then hold departments to account through the quarterly business plan review process.
(d) Transparency and independent scrutiny
• Developing real and measurable indicators to monitor sustainability across government and report results publicly.
• Monitoring by the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee of sustainable operations performance data and reporting process, as well as assessing government’s overall performance and approach to embed sustainable development.
• Real time reporting of information and statistics, rather than producing annual reports on sustainability.
This Country Profile has been last updated on: Thursday, 04 October 2012
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