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Government Commits to a More Sustainable Future

7 March 2005

The Government's new Sustainable Development Strategy 'Securing the Future' was welcomed today by the independent advisory body - the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC).

SDC Chair, Jonathon Porritt comments: 'This strategy is a vast improvement on the 1999 Strategy and demonstrates a new determinaion on the part o government to make sustainable development a real priority. It offers timetabled plans for action and seeks to engage us all in driving change. If the Government keeps is promises, and does so visibly leading from the cenre, we will finally begin to see the kind of action we now so urgently need.'

The Strategy includes 250 commitments to action of one kind or another, and these are summarised in the SDC's Summary Response (see attached). It will be the task of the SDC to monitor progress against these commitments as part of its new role.

'Securing the future' announces a new stronger role for the SDC with additional resources. It is proposed that the strengthened Commission acts as an independent watchdog, reporting on progress towards implementing commitments in the Strategy. Its enhanced authority will enable the SDC to ensure that government, at all levels, is delivering on sustainable development.

In reviewing the strengths and challenges within the Strategy, the SDC welcomes the Government's attempt to tackle some sticky issues such as the sustainability of our current lifestyles and shopping habits, and our global impact. The Strategy outlines new approaches to supporting behaviour change which results in less impact on our use of natural resources and upon climate change. The SDC is pleased to see that Government departments intend to lead by example, particularly in areas such as sustainable procurement and travel. This leadership will be crucial to get local and regional buy-in.

In preparation for its new role, the Commission is hosting an event on June 22nd to offer its current thinking for scrutiny and debate. Comments arising from the interactive session chaired by broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, Chair of BBC Radio 4s Any Questions? will help shape the Commission's future work programme.

The 250 strategy commitments, which the Sustainable Development Commission has identified as new or significant, are available at www.sd-commission.org.uk (from 11.00 hours Monday March 7th 2005).

-Ends-

Editors notes:

- Securing the Future, the UK Government's 2005 Sustainable Development Strategy is available for download at http://www.sustainable-development.gov.uk/index.htm

- The Sustainable Development Commission has identified a wide-ranging and comprehensive set of commitments within the Strategy at www.sd-commission.org.uk

- The new UK Shared Framework for Sustainable Development, One Future - Differen Paths, complements the Strategy. The Framework brings together, for the first time, a common vision and set of principles for sustainable development to 2020 agreed by the UK Government and the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to provide a consistent approach and focus across the UK.

- The Securing the Future Strategy states that the Government will give the SDC a new stronger role, with its own director and increased resources: 'We will consider whether putting the SDC on a statutory footing as an executive rather than an advisory body would enhance this role further. We will also consider how the SDC's new watchdog role can best be carried out alongside its advisory role'.

- The Sustainable Development Commission is the independent government advisor on sustainable development, reporting to Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the leaders of the Devolved Administrations. The Commission aims to put sustainable development at the centre of government policy.

- Sustainable development provides a framework for redirecting our economies to enable everyone to meet their basic needs and improve their quality of life while ensuring that the natural resources on which they depend are maintained and enhanced, both for their benefit and for that of future generations.

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