HC Deb 16 July 2001 vol 372 cc58-9W
Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what indicators the Government use to monitor progress in implementing its strategy for sustainable development; what progress has been made to date; how her Department plans to improve its strategy for sustainable development in the next 12 months; and if she will make a statement. [3988]

Mr. Meacher

[holding answer 13 July 2001]The Government's sustainable development strategy, "A better quality of life", (Cm 4345) makes clear that headline indicators will be used to measure progress towards sustainable development. There are fifteen headline indicators, covering economic, social and environmental factors. The Government's aim is for all the headline indicators to move in the right direction over time, or, where a satisfactory level has been reached, to prevent a reversal. Where a trend is unacceptable, the Government will adjust policies accordingly, and will look to others to join them in taking action.

The strategy commits the Government to report annually on the headline indicators and on action taken or proposed in priority areas. The first annual report—"Achieving a better quality of life"—was published in January 2001. The report makes clear that one year's data do not constitute a trend but that there was evidence of improvement in many of the indicators, across all three aspects of sustainable development.

The Government will continue to report on an annual basis, and is committed to a full review of the strategy after five years (in 2004).