Review of the year: sustainable development in 2012

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Issue 1, 2013: 7th January

News & comment on sustainable development

2012 in Review

In this New Year edition of SD Scene we look back at key themes in sustainable development over the last 12 months and select some of the articles that particularly caught your attention.

Please let us know your sustainable development news over the coming year - we'd love to share it with our readers.

Nick Saltmarsh, Editor -

January 2012 »

In the context of Defra's water white paper we looked at at water footprinting, wider supply issues, and a call for more circular approaches to production.

Water for Life: a new approach to water management »

Defra's water white paper set out a vision for water management addressing the natural environment, green economy and necessity of affordable water for all.

» Water footprinting and beyond

» The impact of product footprinting

» Virtuous circles for sustainable food, energy and water

Ensuring intergenerational equity »

Lucy Stone of UNICEF UK argues for intergenerational equity as a key component of sustainable development and looks to Rio+20 as an opportunity to promote it.

February 2012 »

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment offered the first detailed analysis of the economic and social implications of climate change, while two studies suggested sustainability is now seen as an essential part of our lives

UK Climate Change Risk Assessment »

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment analysed the implications of climate change across the economy and society, to develop our understanding of climate risk.

Green is normal »

Asda's study into the views of its customers, the "everyday experts", finds that sustainability isn’t a standalone element of people’s lives – it's now a part of them.

» Future Leaders Study identifies “sustainable generation”

March 2012 »

Reviewing progress a year on from publication of the Government’s vision for sustainable development, Secretary of State Caroline Spelman reaffirmed its relevance:

"Only by stimulating sustainable economic growth, protecting and enhancing our environment, and supporting social progress can we deliver our programme for government for current and future generations."

Our progress one year in »

Jonathan Tillson, Head of Defra’s Sustainable Development Team, introduced a series of reviews on progress in the year since publication of the Government's vision.

» Capability building: a personal view

» Olympic and Paralympic Games: learning and inspiration

April 2012 »

The National Planning Policy Framework's presumption in favour of sustainable development aimed to support sustainable growth and protect and enhance the natural and historic environment.

Achieving sustainable development through planning »

Sustainable development is at the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework to allow sustainable growth and protect and enhance the natural & historic environment.

» Climate: Observations, projections and impacts

May 2012 »

A roundtable discussion on sustainable procurement and green growth, held by Defra and the Aldersgate Group, examined the need to account for the full costs of products and services. We examined other areas of sustainability in business.

Driving green growth through sustainable procurement »

Defra is supporting increasing business interest in the potential to use sustainable public procurement to drive eco-innovation and green growth in the UK.

» Business attitudes to climate change

» The Ecosystem Markets Task Force

Can we afford sustainable health and social care in a time of austerity? »

The King’s Fund's Chris Naylor argues that sustainable health and social care can go hand-in-hand with efficiency and quality - if we rethink the way services are delivered.

June 2012 »

As the Rio+20 UN sustainable development conference approached we looked at UK ambitions for sustainable development goals, GDP+ proposals for national accounting, and corporate sustainability reporting.

Preparing for Rio+20 »

The UK's ambitions to secure agreement on sustainable development goals, GDP+ proposals and a global framework for corporate sustainability reporting.

» A development economist’s perspective

» An energy and climate change perspective

July 2012 »

Following the Rio+20 UN sustainable development conference approaches we reviewed the achievements and consider the need for further work, with an independent assessment from Farooq Ullah of the Stakeholder Forum.

Rio+20 outcome: renewed commitment to a sustainable future »

The Rio+20 text, The Future We Want, renewed international commitment to sustainable development and reaffirmed the principles of the 1992 Rio declaration.

Rio+20: Dig deep, prepare to act, have hope »

The Stakeholder Forum's Farooq Ullah reflects on the Rio+20 conference, finding some successes to celebrate but no great leap to the future we want.

August 2012 »

With London 2012 underway, the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012's Shaun McCarthy asks if the "most sustainable Games ever" deserve gold. We considered the Games' sustainability strategy, construction and more.

London 2012 – A sustainable gold medal? »

Shaun McCarthy, chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, considers whether "the most sustainable Games ever" deserve a gold medal.

» Towards a One Planet Olympics revisited

» The Olympic Park: showcasing sustainable construction

Measuring national well-being »

The Office for National Statistics reports on progress in its Measuring National Well-being programme and the domains and measures for assessing well-being.

September 2012 »

In World Water Week attention turned to the crucial role of water in food production. We explored other aspects of sustainable food supply, from sustainable intensification to community growing.

Feeding a thirsty world: threats and opportunities for water and food security »

Stockholm International Water Institute warns trends in food production could lead to increased shortages and competition for scarce water resources.

» Olympic hunger summit seeks legacy for children around the world

» Producing food and improving the environment: Green Food Project conclusions

» Sustainable intensification in agriculture

October 2012 »

Taking a local perspective we examined guidance on adaption for local authorities, planners, and in health and social care.

How local authorities can reduce emissions and manage climate risks »

The Committee on Climate Change highlights the vital role local government must play if the UK is to meet its targets on cutting carbon emissions, and offers guidance.

Exploring the social impacts of climate change »

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation explores local approaches to climate change to find out how far social justice is being considered, and makes recommendations.

» The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for local and regional policymakers

» Social enterprises inspiring sustainable living

» Planning for climate change

November 2012 »

Focusing on sustainable development internationally, we review October's biodiversity conference in Hyderabad, and the agreement to double resources for biodiversity.

Protecting Global Biodiversity in Hyderabad »

At the Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad, countries agreed to double the resources allocated to halting the decline in animal and plant species globally by 2015.

» Green Climate Fund gets to work

The emergence of sustainable development »

Ulrich Grober traces the evolution of the concept of “sustainable development”, from its emergence in 1980 to Gro Harlem Brundtland’s pervading formulation.

December 2012 »

Two Department of Health publications focused on risks and opportunities for public health: how to promote and measure desired outcomes, and the impact of climate change. LOCOG published its post-Games sustainability report, following the earlier report of assurance body Commission for a Sustainable London 2012.

Healthy lives, healthy people: improving public health outcomes »

The Department of Health has refreshed the Public Health Outcomes Framework, originally published in January 2012 to set out desired outcomes for public health.

» The health effects of climate change

A legacy of change: the London 2012 post-Games sustainability report »

LOCOG's final sustainability report for London 2012 updates the pre-Games report, focusing on what was achieved in the delivery of the Games.

» London 2012: the most sustainable Games to date

About SD Scene

SD Scene is the UK Government's monthly sustainable development newsletter, providing news and independent comment from government, civil society and business.

The views expressed in our newsletter and articles do not necessarily reflect government policy.

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2012's most read

Mainstreaming Sustainable Development: one year in by Jonathan Tillson, Defra

The benefits of environmental management systems for small and medium enterprises by Sackey Bennin, Defra

Achieving sustainable development through planning

Consulting on new sustainable development indicators

The Natural Capital Committee: putting natural capital at the heart of economic thinking by Zoe Hodgson, Defra

Most read articles from the archive

Why the Government is mainstreaming sustainable development by Lord Henley, Defra

New Government Buying Standards for food and catering

Looking at sustainability and UK food policy

The Coalition Government’s vision for sustainable development

Water Stress Index identifies areas at extreme risk by Tom Styles, Maplecroft

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