SocEnv Supports Assurances for Environment Act - Sustainability Should Be at Heart of Economic Model
28 May 2019
The Society for the Environment is pleased to join other leading business, environmental, academic and professional groups in publishing a shared view of how the Government's proposed Environment Bill can help 'put sustainability at the heart of our economic model'. The Bill must enable business to satisfy society's needs for healthy food, housing, infrastructure, energy, products and services, among other needs, while also confronting the environmental challenges we face.
We need to get past the habit of short term policymaking, which sees policies introduced late in the day, once problems like marine plastic pollution or poor air quality have become entrenched. To date this approach has seen the Government and Society as a whole pay the costs of environmental damage, for example through the National Health Service and businesses facing high short- term adjustment costs.
The Environment Act is a fantastic opportunity to set a clear and certain pathway that quickly enables all sectors to plan, invest and collaborate towards a sustainable future and healthy environment. The Bill will also enable all parts of Government to collaborate to ensure that policies coherently and consistently encourage good environmental management, allowing us to confront the environmental challenges we face, for example contained in the Government's Twenty-Five year Environment Plan. These challenges must be met in ways that go with the grain of doing successful business: driving innovation, aligning with business and investment cycles and creating opportunities for UK business, especially given that all nations face the same environmental and resource challenges in the decades ahead.
The Government published the first part of the Environment Bill in December 2018, including the proposed environmental principles, the environmental watchdog - the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) - and Environmental Improvement Plans. These Assurances set out what's needed from the whole Bill - due to be published later in the year. Significant asks include: setting clear and coherent long term direction, including through well-designed environmental targets that command public and business legitimacy and ownership; clarifying where responsibilities lie as early as possible and using the OEP to make sure the Government is held accountable for ensuring policies are adequate for meeting environmental goals. While the need for the Environment Bill was triggered by the UK's decision to leave the EU, these shortcomings must be addressed irrespective of Brexit.
The 'Assurances for an Environment Act' can be viewed here
The Broadway Initiative brings together a cross section of the main stakeholders and nationally recognised experts to generate ideas and proposals for world leading arrangements to govern the environment after EU exit. The purpose is to advise all UK administrations on how to enable all parts of society to play their part in achieving long term objectives for the environment. See Broadway's 'Blueprint for an Environment Act' for more background on the proposals contained in the assurances.