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

Sustainable Development Action Plans (SDAPs)

SDAPs are published plans that all departments are required to produce that set out their priorities and actions to manage their business and estate more sustainably. Departments and executive agencies must have a ‘live’ SDAP at all times and publish a progress report annually.

The SDC’s role is to provide guidance and advice throughout the process (drafting, publishing, implementing, annual progress reporting) as well as to monitor government’s overall progress.

Government's current SDAPs and progress is:

» SDAP Tracker » Performance Overview 2005-2010
The SDC's tool for monitoring the SDAP status of departments and agencies. Government's progress and the SDC's impact

Since March 2005, all Central Government departments and executive agencies have been required to produce a Sustainable Development Action Plan (SDAP) –a key way of converting good intentions into action. These SDAPs set out how they will contribute to the Government’s overall sustainable development goals, through policymaking as well as internal operations, procurement and workforce management.

In addition to providing support to departments in developing their SDAPs the SDC reports publicly on the quality of published plans, and monitors departments’ progress against the actions set out in their plans. The latest round of assessments which were conducted between 2008 and 2010 have led to improvements in both the quality of new SDAPs (including the Department for Transport’s) and real change in the way that departments operate to deliver their business more sustainably. For example, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) reinvigorated its whole approach to sustainable development following our assessment of their 2008 SDAP. This new approach has included progress towards putting sustainable development at the heart of business planning and raising staff awareness of the issue.

“We are pleased the SDC recognises the work we do to promote sustainable development by embedding it in each of our departmental strategic objectives and through our estates management. We have changed our approach to embedding SD in the FCO since the plan was drawn up.”

Chris Bradley, Head of Chief Scientific Adviser’s Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Government departments are now also required to produce individual plans for Carbon Reduction Delivery and Climate Change Adaptation, and the SDC has worked with DECC and Defra to streamline the links between SDAPs and these plans.

In its role as the government's independent advisor and watchdog on sustainable development, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) provides a dual SDAP role: guidance and support to departments and agencies in the drafting of their SDAPs, and assessments of published SDAPs as well as monitoring annual progress reports.

Departmental assessments

» 2008 -2010
» 2007

» 2006