We are the UK Government’s independent adviser on sustainable development. Through advocacy, advice and
appraisal, we help put sustainable development at the heart of Government policy


Big Ben behind fence In 2006 the SDC's role was expanded to incorporate a Watchdog function that involves "scrutinising and reporting on Government’s performance on sustainable development" (Securing the Future). This function permeates all the SDC’s work with central government and the wider public sector, in that advisory and capability building activities entail developing an understanding of current performance as well as future potential. However, the SDC’s Watchdog work is probably best known for its assessments of government operations and sustainable development action plans.

The SDC would thus hold the UK Government to account against the principles and priorities set out in the UK SD Strategy Securing The Future, and challenge it to ensure "Government departments" policies optimise economic, social and environmental benefits." In keeping with our role as Government’s ‘critical friend’, our formal Watchdog assessments would always be preceded by significant inside track advice and challenge, to avoid unnecessary surprises for Government wherever possible.

What value does it add?

Independent scrutiny of government progress provides transparency and assurance to the general public that government is delivering against its commitments; helps Government understand its performance and the potential to improve; and provides ongoing challenge with the general aim of catching Government ‘doing the right thing first time’.

Further benefits include:

  • Independent, informed and publically available reports of government’s progress which can be used by stakeholders
  • We can identify where government progress is not sufficient and provide support, advice and capability-building to improve performance
  • Identifies best practice and facilitates sharing of knowledge across public sector
  • Supports government to identify priorities for action.