Environmental Audit Committee

24 January 2002

Turning words into deeds:

UK Preparations for the World Summit

on Sustainable Development

In August this year world leaders will be meeting in Johannesburg to discuss some of the key challenges which we now face in the 21st century, such as how we continue to improve lives and conserve natural resources with an ever growing world population.  They will be joined by representatives from all sectors of society to build on agreements drawn up at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.  Progress since the Rio Summit has been slow and uneven and the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has called for strong political will and practical action to overcome the hurdles that nations face in reconciling their economic, social and environmental goals.

As the Commons Select Committee tasked with monitoring the Government's contribution to sustainable development, the Environmental Audit Committee is today launching an inquiry to examine how the UK is preparing for this important event and the progress which has been made since the Rio Summit.

The Committee will be particularly considering:

a) How the UK is formulating its own contribution to the World Summit, the nature of this contribution, and the range of stakeholders involved;

b) How the UK is helping to raise awareness of the Summit in other nations and facilitate their contribution to the proceedings; and

c) The extent to which the UK Government has adequately monitored UK progress on sustainable development and the issues mapped out in Agenda 21 since 1992 as part of its preparations for the Summit.

Oral evidence sessions will be scheduled in February and early March and the Committee expects to report in mid-March.  Interested organisations and individuals are invited to submit written evidence, either by post (addressed to the Clerk) or e-mail (eacom@parliament.uk), by Monday 25 February 2002. Any queries relating to the inquiry should be directed to Emma Downing, Committee Specialist,

A brief guide for those wishing to submit a memorandum of evidence to the Committee is available at http://www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide

Copies can be faxed or posted upon request. To confirm dates and times, and to identify room numbers for Select Committee meetings, please telephone the Committee Office Information Line on 020 7 219 2033

Note for Editors

1.  The World Summit for Sustainable Development is taking place in Johannesburg  26 August - 4 September 2002.  The official website for the Summit can be found at http://www.johannesburgsummit.org

Details of the UK preparations for the Summit can be found at


2. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development which took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 became known as the Rio Earth Summit. This summit was the first international attempt to draw up action plans and strategies for moving towards a more sustainable pattern of development. 

3. The Summit resulted in four key agreements to put the concept into action:

Agenda 21: a comprehensive programme of action needed throughout the world to achieve a more sustainable pattern of development for the next century.

Climate Change Convention: An agreement between countries establishing a framework for action to reduce the risks of global warming by limiting the emission of "greenhouse gases".

Biodiversity Convention: An agreement between countries about how to protect the diversity of species and habitats in the world

Statement of forestry principles for the management, conservation and sustainable development of all the world's forests.

3. Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152A the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee is to "consider to what extent the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development; to audit their performance against such targets as may be set for them by Her Majesty's Ministers; and to report thereon to the House". The Committee was set up on 16 July 2001.