UK Commission assesses Blair’s sustainable development record

“Shows Promise: But Must Try Harder”, the report by the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission, calls for a halt on economic growth as the sole driving force behind policy decisions.

The UK'sSustainable Development Commission (SDC)issued a report on 13 April calling for a "fundamental policy shift to improve overall quality of life".

Assessing the country's progress towards a sustainable society over the past five years, the Commission challenges the government's "fundamental belief that economic growth should be the driving force behind all policy decisions".

It rates the government's action on a series of indicators including economic growth ("poor"), employment ("disappointing"), poverty ("shows promise"), air quality ("good") and greenhouse gas emissions ("disappointing").

The most outstanding result is the "dreadful" rating that road traffic in Britain obtained. "Britain has the most congested roads in Europe, and we spend more time commuting than any other European nation", the report said. Waste policy is the other area that got rated "dreadful": "Municipal waste is rising faster than GDP and faster than in most other European countries. Recycling rates are rising, but are still among the lowest in Europe", it read.

Jonathon Porritt, the SDC Chairman and a former director at Friends of the Earth, insisted on giving a more balanced judgement of Mr Blair's action on sustainable development. "In comparison to most governments around the world, the UK Government is doing a lot. And there’s clearly genuine intent to do more", he added.

The European Union is preparing a mid-term review of its own sustainable development strategy defined in Gotenburg in June 2001.


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