External report confirms Government's commitment to sustainability

The first annual sustainability report to be conducted by independent analysts has been published by the Government in a continuing bid to lead the UK by a greener example.

Based on an independent analysis by external consultants at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) third annual report 2004 provided a snapshot of how Government departments managed their buildings and land over the last year.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley, who called on the Government recently to set a sustainable example to the rest of the country (see related story), described the move as a "courageous step" that would help to raise sustainable development on the business agenda.

"This report provides an open, independent assessment of how well departments are doing in meeting the Government's own targets on sustainable operations," Mr Morley stated. "Whilst there is no doubt we are making progress in some areas, in others we clearly need to do better."

PwC drew up a questionnaire that was completed by each of the 20 Government departments, then used the data to show how departments had performed against targets laid out by the Framework for Sustainable Development on the Government Estates.

Launched in 2002, the Framework covers nine key areas of sustainable development activities, from purchasing and water use to biodiversity and energy efficiency. All departments are due to have action plans in place to tackle procurement, construction and social impacts by December 2005.

Despite criticism from the Audit Committee earlier this year (see related story), Mr Morley said that green Ministers were determined to improve departmental performance over the coming year.

"Sustainable development is of great importance to this Government and we have to be seen to be leading the way, not only to encourage consumers to think sustainably, but also to give manufacturers and businesses confidence that there is a market for sustainable products and technologies," he said.

By Jane Kettle



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