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Sustainable Development Commission

Sustainable Development Commission
Sustainable Development Commission logo
Formation June 2001
Type Non-departmental public body
Legal status Closed as of 30 March 2011[1]
Purpose Independent adviser on sustainable development.
Region served United Kingdom
Official language English, Welsh

The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) was a non-departmental public body responsible for advising the UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government, and Northern Ireland Executive on sustainable development.

It was set up by the Labour Government in June 2000 and closed by the Coalition Government in March 2011.[1]


  • Establishment 1
  • Leadership and purpose 2
  • Closure and succession 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In 1999 the Labour Government made the policy case for sustainable development in a White paper entitled A better quality of life.[2]

Pressure then came to oversee the Government's progress and develop policy on sustainable development, including from Michael Meacher MP.[3]

Subsequently, the Sustainable Development Commission was founded by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in June 2000.[3] It replaced the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, a stakeholder body, and the British Government Panel on Sustainable Development, a Government think tank.[4]

Leadership and purpose

Sustainable Development Commission Chair 2000-2009, Jonathon Porritt

The commission reported directly to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK Government), the First Minister of Scotland (Scottish Government), First Minister for Wales (Welsh Assembly Government), and the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Executive).[5]

Its responsibilities to the four bodies were broadly similar: it was an official watchdog on sustainability; it scrutinised progress on meeting targets on the sustainable management of the bodies' estates and procurement; and it provided cross-departmental policy advice and assistance.[5]

From 2000 to 2009 the Commission was chaired by the former Director of Friends of the Earth, Jonathan Porritt,[1] and between 2009 and its closure in 2011, it was chaired by Will Day formerly of Comic Relief and the United Nations Development Programme.[6][7] It produced reports such as Prosperity Without Growth by Prof Tim Jackson in 2009.[8]

Closure and succession

On the 22 July 2010, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced that it would stop funding the Commission.[1] The decision was part of the Coalition Government's quango reforms, termed by the media as a "bonfire of the quangos"[9][10]

This news was criticised by Green

  • Sustainable Development Commission website

External links

  1. ^ a b c d BBC, 22 July 2010, UK government axes its sustainability watchdog
  2. ^ UK Government, 1999 A better quality of life - strategy for sustainable development for the United Kingdom – 1999
  3. ^ a b c The Guardian, 22 July 2010 Government axes UK sustainability watchdog
  4. ^ Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, James Medhurst, 2001 Case study of the governance for sustainable development in the United Kingdom: institutional aspects of sustainable development
  5. ^ a b Sustainable Development Commission, 4 April 2011 Our Role
  6. ^ The Ecologist, 20 August 2009 Will Day: new watchdog chief on GM, nuclear and political jargon
  7. ^ Sustainable Development Commission, 2009 Profile of Will Day profile
  8. ^ "Publications: Prosperity without Growth? - The transition to a sustainable economy". Sustainable Development Commission. Retrieved 8 Dec 2014. 
  9. ^ The Guardian, 13 February 2011 'Bonfire of the quangos' threatens climate change committee
  10. ^ The Independent, 15 October 2010 Bonfire of the quangos: bodies to be abolished
  11. ^ The Guardian, 22 July 2011 How scrapping the SDC to save money will cost the taxpayer a fortune
  12. ^ The Telegraph, 23 July 2010 Is it badger-hunting season?
  13. ^ The Guardian, 27 July 2010 Divided, the green lobby will fall
  14. ^ Utility Week, 22 July 2010 EAC chairman questions decision as bonfire of the quangos spreads to Defra
  15. ^ Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 10 January 2011 Environmental Audit Committee recommends minister for sustainable development


See also

The Chair of the Environmental Audit Select Committee, Labour MP Joan Walley, also criticised the decision to close the Commission.[14] She has led efforts to ensure the Commission's role is succeeded, and in January 2011 the Environmental Audit Select Committee recommended the creation of a new Minister for Sustainable Development.[15]

They claimed the Commission was necessary for the Government to fulfil its ambition to be the “greenest government ever”. [13].Friends of the Earth and [12] journalist Geoffrey Lean,Daily Telegraph [11]

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