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


What is the SDC's Watchdog function?

Through our Watchdog role, the SDC holds the Government to account on its ambition to lead by example on sustainable development. We do this by scrutinising Government's performance against its own sustainability targets, and by providing continual advice and support to departments and agencies.

Our Watchdog function is set out in the Government's sustainable development strategy, Securing the Future (2005). The strategy commits the Government to ensuring that:

  • The principles of sustainable development "form the basis for policy in the UK"
  • Departments’ policies "optimise economic, social and environmental benefits."

Our scrutiny of progress against these goals provides transparency and accountability to the taxpayer, as well as:

  • Helping departments and agencies to make savings through greater efficiency
  • Providing independent, informed and publically available reports on the Government’s progress
  • Identifying where more work is needed, and providing support and advice to improve performance in those areas
  • Helping to identify priorities for action
  • Facilitating the sharing of best practice across the wider public sector

How do we do it?

We carry out our Watchdog function through the following methods:

Sustainable Development in Government Assessment

The Sustainable Development in Government (SdiG) Assessment scrutinises the performance of departments and agencies against the Government's own targets on operations and procurement.

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 Sustainable Development Action Plans

 All Government departments and agencies are required to produce a Sustainable Development Action Plan (SDAP), setting out their approach to meeting the objectives set out in Securing the Future. The SDC tracks the progress of each organisation in meeting this requirement, as well as providing scrutiny of SDAPs, and support in their development.

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Thematic Reviews

Thematic reviews are the SDC’s independent, in-depth assessments of government progress on important areas of policy.

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