Environmental Audit Committee launches inquiry into Measuring Well-being and Sustainable Development

25 September 2012

The Environmental Audit Committee is today launching a new inquiry on measuring well-being and sustainable development.

The inquiry will specifically examine:

  • Whether the Government’s commitment to mainstreaming sustainable development is being measured accurately and appropriately by the Sustainable Development Indicators (SDIs);
  • Whether the proposed restructuring and rationalisation of the SDIs will provide more precise, useful and relevant readings in the future;
  • How SDIs could be used to inform and shape policy across government, and what targets—if any—should be attached to specific indicators;
  • Whether the proposed new SDIs will capture the conclusions and commitments reached at the recent UN Rio+20 conference;
  • The extent to which the ongoing Office for National Statistics (ONS) work on national well-being adequately reflects sustainable development perspectives; and
  • How the ONS work on measuring national well-being overlaps or interlocks with the proposed new SDIs.

As a first step, the Committee will examine Defra’s proposed new SDIs, which are currently under consultation. In parallel to that consultation, the Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit written evidence to us setting out their views on the draft SDIs. Those who have submitted evidence to the Defra consultation are encouraged to engage with this inquiry by also submitting their evidence to the Committee. Submissions should ideally be sent to the Committee by Monday 29 October. Guidance on preparing submissions is set out below (please indicate if evidence has also been submitted to the Defra consultation).

Later, our inquiry will also consider the ongoing ONS work on measuring national well-being. This long-term programme was launched in November 2010 and covers a wide range of economic, social and environmental statistics. The programme includes the publication of a “state-of-the-nation” report in November 2012, which will complement existing socio-economic indicators. In the later stages of this inquiry, the Committee will assess the effectiveness of the ONS measures and the way in which they relate to the proposed new SDIs.

Media Information: Nick Davies   020 7219 3297   / 07917488141
For written submissions to the Committee, please note:
Each submission should ideally:

  • Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • Have numbered paragraphs; and
  • Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked ‘Measuring Sustainable Development’. An additional paper copy should be sent to:

Clerk of the Committee
Environmental Audit Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please supply a postal address so a copy of the Committee’s report can be sent to you upon publication.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:

Guide for Witnesses to House of Commons Select Committees (PDF PDF 1.25 MB)

Please also note that:

  • Material published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

Image: iStockphoto

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