Wales praised for climate change initiatives

28 Aug 2008

But there needs to be a more joined up approach between different parts of the UK, says report

An independent report sponsored by BT has praised Wales for its climate change policy - but called for a more "joined up" approach between the UK's regions and countries.

The report, which examined the sustainable development strategies of every English region, Wales and Scotland, recommends better sharing of best practice and for "more crossing of regional boundaries" by successful initiatives.

Despite the growing importance of sustainable development in national politics, there is "little consistency in the way it is addressed".

It says communication between nations and regions could be improved by initiatives such as an online directory of sustainable development case studies, policies and practices, and an annual UK-wide conference or roundtable.

"There is a real need to improve the way in which the experience gained from these initiatives is shared and used to stimulate further good practice," states the BT-sponsored report by the UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development.

"It is important that there should be the opportunity for joining up initiatives across regional boundaries to integrate good practice." This would "help these better examples become more prevalent UK-wide."

Authors of the report were "Ëœparticularly impressed' by the establishment of a Climate Change Commission in Wales and praised the country's economic development strategy which has ensured for the first time that "Ëœsustainable development is reflected in assessments of progress in delivering their economic agenda'.

The report added that environmental objectives in Wales - such as the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resource efficiency - offer commercial opportunities for environmental goods and services. It said it would be good to see this developed further in the Welsh strategy, especially if this could explore the link between these opportunities and Wales' science policy and academic centres of excellence.

The report goes on to say that information and communications technology (ICT) in the UK is "being surprisingly overlooked as a key enabler for sustainable development and should be re-assigned a higher priority" and better integrated with policies in areas, such as transport and energy.

"ICT has fallen significantly down the agenda of more recent strategies, largely as a result of the success of regional campaigns to promote access to broadband services. There is some interest in the role of ICT in reducing the need to travel, although only a few strategies make a clear link between ICT and sustainable development."

Digital inclusion, too, "is not being covered as well as it was and, given the importance of ICT knowledge and skills to the economy and environment, we believe it is important for it to be featured in future strategies."

Ann Beynon, BT's director for Wales, said: "We believe this report is a useful contribution to the debate on sustainable development. We are hugely encouraged by the discussions we have had with Welsh Assembly Government Ministers and officials. There are some excellent initiatives being undertaken in the Wales and other parts of the UK on this very important subject - but we must make sure that the best successes are taken up across the UK as a whole, not just in one nation or region.

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