Monday 8 November 2004 REPORT PUBLICATION

Monday 8 November 2004 REPORT PUBLICATION

The Sustainable Development Strategy:

Illusion or Reality?

The Environmental Audit Committee today published its Thirteenth Report of 2003-04, The Sustainable Development Strategy:   Illusion or Reality?HC 624.    The report assesses the impact of the UK Sustainable Development Strategy which the Government launched in 1999, and contributes to the development of a new Strategy to be published in Spring 2005.

The report argues that the existing Strategy has not had the impact expected, and that the concept of sustainable development has not displaced the priority accorded to economic growth.  It contains many conclusions and recommendations covering a wide range of topics such as the definition of sustainable development itself, the extent to which the Strategy has driven progress, indicators and targets, consumption and awareness, and administrative structures and processes. The second part of the report sets out a list of recommendations for the development of a new Strategy.  

The Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, Peter Ainsworth MP, said today:

"We have yet to appreciate the full impacts of our global assault on biodiversity and ecosystems.  In the case of global warming, for example, we now understand that there are limits we must not transgress.  But equally there are limits to the extent to which the world can tolerate biodiversity loss, soil erosion, land cover changes, and acute water stress. The concept of environmental limits is fundamental to sustainable development - and the Government's new Sustainable Development Strategy must reflect that.

We appreciate the difficulties the Government has, both domestically and internationally, in adopting a more radical approach.   But if the new Strategy is to be more effective than the last, we must see the Prime Minister and Secretaries of State playing a far more decisive role in promoting and implementing it than they have done so far.   The consequences of failure are potentially catastrophic, and our descendants will not thank us if we do not take action now."

For further information on the report, journalists may phone Peter Ainsworth MP on 07887 997838, or Committee staff (Eric Lewis) on 07952 669842.

Notes for Editors

1.Details of all the Committee's press releases and inquiries, together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee's Internet homepage.

2.The Committee announced its inquiry on the review of the Sustainable Development Strategy in its press notice of 5th April 2004.    The Government released a public consultation on the development of a new Strategy  on 21st April 2004 ("Taking It On").  It intends to publish a new Strategy in Spring 2005.