The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) was a non-departmental public body responsible for advising the UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government, and Northern Ireland Executive on sustainable development.
|Type||Non-departmental public body|
|Legal status||Closed as of 30 March 2011|
|Purpose||Independent adviser on sustainable development.|
Subsequently, the Sustainable Development Commission was founded by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in June 2000. It replaced the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, a stakeholder body, and the British Government Panel on Sustainable Development, a Government think tank.
The commission reported directly to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK Government), the First Minister of Scotland (Scottish Government), First Minister for Wales (Welsh Assembly Government), and the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Executive).
Its responsibilities to the four bodies were broadly similar: it was an official watchdog on sustainability; it scrutinised progress on meeting targets on the sustainable management of the bodies' estates and procurement; and it provided cross-departmental policy advice and assistance.
From 2000 to 2009 the Commission was chaired by the former Director of Friends of the Earth, Jonathan Porritt, and between 2009 and its closure in 2011, it was chaired by Will Day formerly of Comic Relief and the United Nations Development Programme. The vice-chair from 2004-2011 was Rebecca Willis, a researcher on environment and sustainability practice.
On 22 July 2010, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced that it would stop funding the Commission. The decision was part of the Coalition Government's quango reforms, termed by the media as a "bonfire of the quangos" Jonathan Porritt described the decision an "act of ideological vandalism".
This news was criticised by Green Caroline Lucas MP, Guardian journalist and activist George Monbiot, Daily Telegraph journalist Geoffrey Lean, and Friends of the Earth. They claimed the Commission was necessary for the Government to fulfil its ambition to be the "greenest government ever".
The Chair of the Environmental Audit Select Committee, Labour MP Joan Walley, also criticised the decision to close the Commission. She led efforts to ensure the Commission's role had a successor, and in January 2011 the Environmental Audit Select Committee recommended the creation of a new Minister for Sustainable Development.