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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

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POVERTY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

 No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

Relevant legislation includes the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 which is kept under constant review.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

The Government believes that work is the best way out of poverty for people of working age. Accordingly, a number of new policies known as the 'New Deal' have been formulated to help different groups into employment:

Policies are also being developed to help pensioners, both through reviewing future pensions provision, and by helping current pensioners through additional payments to help with winter fuel bills this winter and next, and pilot exercises to encourage pensioners to claim their full benefit entitlement.

The UK Government consults fully with a wide range of organizations (including those representing women) on proposed policy changes.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

The national priority of the United Kingdom is to improve living standards for the many, not just the few, and to offer educational and employment opportunities for all.

The UK has rated the country's employment situation as 'very good' and access to primary health care, clean water and sanitation 'excellent'.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

The New Deal policies detailed above will cost a total of 5bn, financed by a windfall tax on privatised utilities. The fuel payments made to pensioners this winter will cost around 190m this year, and the pilot take-up exercises will cost an additional 15m.

Cooperation

The UK, following the creation of a new Department for International Development, will re-focus its international development efforts onto the elimination of poverty and encouragement of economic growth which benefits the poor. We will do this through support for international sustainable development targets and policies which create sustainable livelihoods for poor people, promote human development, and conserve the environment.

The UK will work closely with other donor countries and international organisations to achieve this, and work in partnership with developing countries to meet these international targets. New forms of public/private partnerships will also be sought. The UK is working towards achieving a consistency of Government policies affecting developing countries.

The importance of providing necessary resources for the development programme is recognised. The UK will start to reverse the decline in spending on development assistance, and has reaffirmed its commitment to the 0.7% UN target.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

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DEMOGRAPHICS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The Department of the Environment, and the Office of Population and Census are the bodies that are most directly concerned with demographic issues. The Overseas Development Administration's (ODA) aid programme addresses population issues. These Departments are engaged in integrated policy coordination in the field of population, environment and development policies.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

The Government has been involved in supporting NGO activities related to population, environment and development. The following NGOs have received government support: Population Concern, Save the Children Fund, Oxfam, Christian Aid and Action Aid and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development. Action Aid and Commonwealth Medical Association were members of the UK delegation to the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994. The UK also held eight meetings of ICPD at the NGO Forum to facilitate discussion between NGOs and Government Departments. Funds were also provided for an NGO coordinator to help organize three NGO workshops to involve an even wider range of NGOs in the Cairo Process. Steps have also been taken to involve women in decision-making at all levels of population and sustainable development, policies, projects and programmes.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

Steps have been taken to coordinate project/programme operational activities in the field of population, environment and sustainable development. Public information activities have been conducted in order to create awareness of the linkages between population, environment and sustainable development issues.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

Although the UK does not have a national population policy, demographic changes and trends are continuously monitored by the Government. The Government is concerned with improving the well-being of individuals, ensuring that information and services are available for family planning, and ensuring the welfare of dependent children.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

The UK Government has committed over 150 million to population and reproductive health activities between 1994-95 through its aid programme and support of ICPD's Programme of Action. In its response to ICPD, the UK has continued to work closely with its development partners. One example is a new 22 million reproductive health project in Kenya financed equally by the UK and the European Commission.

Cooperation

The UK will continue to give high priority to population and development issues in its aid programme in order to facilitate ICPD's Programme of Action. The Government has attached high priority to promoting better reproductive health, including access to family planning services in developing countries and countries in economic transition through partnerships with governments, NGOs and the private sector. The UK tries to enable more people to have choices about the number and timing of their children. Helping women to go through pregnancy and childbirth more safely is a priority, as is helping women and men to avoid sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence. The goal will be to contribute to meeting by 2015 the internationally agreed targets of reproductive health for all and 75 %reduction in infant mortality.

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This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

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HEALTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

Effective protection of the environment is a pre-requisite for a healthy nation. The way in which environmental quality affects health is sometimes easy to define, but usually involves complex interactions, and effects on health cannot always be measured. Nevertheless, there can be no doubting the importance of environmental factors associated with good air quality; safe, secure and good quality housing; safe drinking water; access to open spaces; and proper use of chemicals and potentially hazardous substances. Actions must be taken to reduce problems associated with these environmental factors so as to benefit human health.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

The Government is publishing a green paper - Our Healthier Nation - which considers, among other issues, the relationship between health and the quality of the environment.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

* * *

This information was excerpted from a consultation document of the Government of the United Kingdom, published in February 1998 and entitled, Opportunities for Change, on revision of the UK's Sustainable Development Strategy. The consultations will lead to the preparation of a new Sustainable Development Strategy by the end of 1998.

Click here for the National Environmental Health Action Plan.

Click here to go to the Health and health-related statistical information from the World Health Organization.

To access the Health for All On-Line Database (WHO): Europe and CIS countries, click here

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EDUCATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The following Departments are primarily responsible for education activities: in England and Wales, the Department for Education and Employment (DFEE) (for education and training) and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) (for public awareness); in Northern Ireland, the Department of Education (for education) and the Department of Economic Development (for training) and the Department of the Environment (DOE) (for public awareness). In Scotland, The Scottish Office is responsible for all aspects of education.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

In 1995, The Scottish Office adopted a seminal report 'Learning for Life' as the basis for the strategy in Scotland and appointed an Education for Sustainable Development group to lead work in Scotland. A Sustainable Development Education Strategy for England and Wales was established in July 1996.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

An expert panel on Sustainable Development Education has also been established. Experts from all the sectors involved - environmental bodies, schools, colleges and universities, training organisations and local government - will work together to identify gaps, opportunities and priorities and partnerships for action in providing sustainable development education and to highlight good practice. The panel will report to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education and Employment with recommendations for action by Government and other involved parties.

In England, DETR also sponsors a wide range of NGOs including the Council for Environmental Education, Going for Green, which carries out environmental education outreach work aimed at the general public, and other groups involved in sustainable development education. It is supporting around 100 projects through the Environmental Action Fund and next year there will be specific support to new projects that further sustainable development education.

Programmes and Projects 

The UK has signed up to the GLOBE programme which involves schools carrying out measurements in their local environment, recording the results, and exchanging data with other schools worldwide through the Internet. DETR also supports the Energy Savings Trust which seeks to educate the domestic and small business market on energy efficiency.

Forward Scotland, a company supported by The Scottish Office Sustainable Action Fund, leads action on developing practical action on sustainable development and is closely involved with raising awareness through a programme of sustainable communities, and with Scottish NGOs, through the Government Environmental Task Force in Scotland bringing long-term unemployed back to work while benefiting the environment. The Scottish Environmental Education Council works to deliver programmes in all learning contexts.

Status

The national Curriculum for England and Wales is statutory and prescribes in detail what pupils aged 5-16 must be taught. In Scotland, the Government has laid down non-statutory national guidelines for pupils aged 5-14 which set out the aims of study, the ground to be covered, and how achievement should be assessed and reported. Northern Ireland has a single curriculum. These curricula adequately address sustainable development. Printed material, from a wide range of sources, is used at all levels. The Council for Environmental Education is producing a code of good practice for producers of sustainable development education materials.

As regards to the reorientation of education towards sustainable development, the Primary level covers topics concerning environmental and development education (EDE) through geography and science, while secondary students will do so to the extent that they are specializing in either of those subjects. In-service training is available on a similar basis, although the extent and nature of its provision are locally determined. Pre-service training (degree and diploma courses) feature EDE insofar as it relates directly to the student's subject area - e.g. geography, biology, environmental science courses.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

The Department of Environment's awareness-raising campaigns utilise leaflets, booklets, radio, television, teletext, fairs, conferences, the internet and other media to disseminate information on the need for sustainable development and the efficient use of energy. The UK has also established forums with local authorities, business and the voluntary sector to contribute to public discussions on sustainable development.

Information 

All Government departments are now working with the new Government commitment to put concern for environment at the heart of policy-making, so that it is not an add on extra, but informs the whole of government, from housing and energy policy through to global warming and international agreements. This will require enhanced levels of public awareness and continued efforts in all sectors.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

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HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The Central Government and local authorities plan and manage human settlements. Local authorities are charged with planning for natural disasters within their areas. An integral part of the planning system is community participation through involving individuals and non-governmental organizations in decisions on development plans and their application.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

The Environment Act 1995 introduced mechanisms for the identification and regulation of contaminated land, as well as clarifying existing general statutory controls. The regulation of contaminated land allows for the market and voluntary actors to provide improvements to formerly contaminated land. The Government commits 250 m each year to facilitate development on such land, largely through bodies such as English Partnerships, the Welsh Development Agency and Scottish Enterprise.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

The Health of the Nation programme recognizes the need for a safe and healthy home environment and commits the Government to ensuring that decent housing is accessible to all families. The UK Town and Country Planning Systems set a framework of rules and incentives, so that patterns of land use reflect the interests of the community as a whole. The Government and local authorities work through the Town and Country Planning Systems to reconcile the conservation of the environment with development needs. Local Waste Plans are also drawn to complement development plans drawn up under the Town and Country Planning Systems.

The Government is also developing a sustainable development strategy which takes greater account of social inclusion.

The Government published a Green Paper on Household Growth in November 1996, in order to initiate a wide-ranging public debate on possible options for accommodating the projected household growth.

The UK contributed to drafting of the Habitat Agenda (Global Plan of Action) and drafted a National Report on UK planning for sustainable settlements in an urbanized world.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

The Government is encouraging the following activities: attractive and convenient urban areas in which people will want to live and work; new development in locations which minimize energy consumption; initiatives that promote the regeneration of urban land and buildings; the restoration and conversion of derelict and contaminated land to open space; rural economic development; and research to promote a better understanding of sustainable development.

Household projections published in March 1995 by the Government suggested that some 4.4 million more homes will be needed in England between 1991 and 2016. This growth is largely due to longer life expectancy, increasing numbers of single person households, people wishing to live alone, and immigration from Europe.

Simultaneously with the Green Paper on Household Growth in November 1996, the Governmnet issued a report on the urbanisation implications of the household growth. Approximately 700 responses were received and the Government is now considering its policies on planning for household growth, taking into account the public consultation on the Green Paper. The Government remains committed both to protecting the countryside and to regenerating towns and cities, by encouraging local authorities to make the best possible use of previously developed land.

The Government has taken steps to invigorate the transformation of large scale, poor quality public housing estates by 2005. The government is committed to promoting effective local authority strategies to reduce the proportion of vacant homes to 3% by 2005, as well as ensure that half of all new housing is built on re-used sites by that same year.

The objectives of local government through the International Union of Local Authorities and the International Council of Local Environment Initiatives includes: improving human settlement management; promoting human resource development and capacity-building for human settlement development; and promoting the integrated provision of environmental infrastructure (water, sanitation, drainage and solid-waste management).

Government has published research findings on rendering the preparation of city development plans more efficient. In the future, a research project will focus on ways to enhance local participation in the preparation of development plans.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.


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