Press release

Embedding sustainability at the heart of Government

How our commitment to mainstreaming sustainable development across Government will be fulfilled.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New ambitious plans to help build a stronger green government were announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman today.

The Mainstreaming Sustainable Development package will guarantee that Government policies have been ‘sustainability-proofed’ - by making sure they help to deliver sustainable economic growth, improve our quality of life and protect our natural environment now and for future generations.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“The Government is determined that as we reduce the deficit, we also rebalance the economy and put it on a greener, more sustainable footing.

“In order to achieve this, we must lead by example. I am pleased to see this document sets out exactly how we can do that and take our place among the greenest governments in the world.”

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:

“Moving to a long-term, green and sustainable economy is essential if we are to rebuild our finances, improve our quality of life and protect our natural environment. Genuine sustainability will never again be an add-on or afterthought.  It will be at the heart of everything we do - from making policy to running government buildings or purchasing goods and services.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne said:

“We’re already delivering on the Prime Minister’s promise to slash the Government’s own carbon emissions by 10 per cent in our first year, but we need to go much further beyond that.  Only by putting the low carbon agenda at the heart of everything that we do will we convince businesses and householders to do the same.”

Cross-government Ministerial leadership, tangible measuring and monitoring, as well as independent scrutiny will play crucial roles in helping to build a green economy whilst tackling the deficit.

The package will put into practice the Government’s commitment to be the greenest government ever. It includes:

  • Leading by example by:

-        reducing government’s waste generation, water use and greenhouse gas emissions. Waste will be cut by 25 per cent (approximately 74,000 tonnes) by the end of this Parliament. Best practice water efficiency methods will be put in place across government, as well as a new stretching commitment on greenhouse gas reduction which builds on the current 10 per cent announced by the Prime Minister last year; and

-        ensuring the Government buys more sustainable and efficient products and engages with its suppliers to understand and reduce the impacts of supply chains.

  • Ensuring transparency and independent scrutiny by:

-        developing real and measurable indicators to monitor sustainability across government and report results publicly.  Indicators will aim to consider the quality of the natural environment, use of natural resources, and a range of social and economic measures.  The indicators will also link with wellbeing measures being developed by the Office for National Statistics; and

-        independent monitoring of sustainability in government operations, procurement and policies by the Environmental Audit Committee. More frequent and up-to-date publishing of information and statistics online will replace annual reports on sustainability to allow constant scrutiny of progress and performance.

  • Providing Ministerial leadership and oversight by:

-        the Environment Secretary sitting on the key domestic policy Cabinet committees, including the Economic Affairs Committee, to enforce the Government’s commitment to sustainability across domestic policy making; and

-        a new Ministerial steering group driving the new commitments for greening government operations and procurement.

  • Embedding sustainable development in government policy by:

-        Defra taking the lead responsibility for reviewing departmental business plans to ensure they adhere to Sustainable Development principles. The Minister for Government Policy will then hold departments to account through the quarterly business plan review process. **


Caroline Spelman and Chris Huhne committed to mainstreaming sustainable development across Government in July 2010. This package outlines how this commitment will be fulfilled.  Further details can be found here:

Further details of sustainability indicators will be announced later this year.

Further information about sustainable development can be found here:

The Prime Minister announced on 14 May 2010 that the Government would reduce the carbon emissions from its office estate by 10% within 12 months. A working group chaired by the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Gregory Barker, has been established to oversee delivery. The Government is currently on track to achieve the target:

Published 28 February 2011