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REDIRECT LOCAL AUTHORITY FUNDING, SAYS NEW REPORT

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Funding to local authorities should be made conditional on improving social and environmental policies in Wales, sa...
Funding to local authorities should be made conditional on improving social and environmental policies in Wales, says an independent report.

'Living Differently?' (1) prepared by Cardiff University and commissioned by World Wildlife Fund Cymru concludes that the two main obstacles for the National Assembly for Wales' sustainable development scheme(2) are - lack of commitment from local authorities and the reluctance of some Assembly Sponsored Public Bodies (ASPBs) to embrace it in their work.

The report, which has been launched to coincide with the National Assembly's review of its sustainable development scheme (3) also says that expectations have been raised but key challenges with global significance now need to be addressed.

'The national assembly has made substantial progress in promoting the idea of sustainability in Wales and this is a credit to many elected members and civil servants. However, our report highlights a sense of frustration that the assembly needs to start delivering on its promises,' said Morgan Parry, head of WWF Cymru. 'One way to do this would be to better direct the work of the agencies and authorities it funds,' he added.

The report concludes that the assembly should implement some radical changes over the next four years, such as:

- Following the Scottish Executive example and making local authorities bid for funds that will enable communities to implement sustainable projects such as promoting local produce, waste reduction and renewable energy.

- Reforming ASPBs such as the Welsh Development Agency that has a poor track record of taking on board environmental issues and whose engagement with sustainability has been patchy.

- Encouraging business to promote better environmental and sustainability practices through building on the number that have achieved the Green Dragon Award.

The report does commend the goodwill that exists to further the sustainable agenda; 'I found consid erable enthusiasm and pride amongst staff in the assembly, local government, ASPBs and the voluntary sector for the assembly's responsibility to promote sustainable development. I hope that this report will contribute to the debates on the means to achieve a more sustainable Wales,' said report author Andrew Flynn.

'Living Differently?' also identifies that through working in partnership and directing funding effectively, Wales can become more sustainable. 'This is not just an issue for politicians - it is an issue that encompasses the public and the private sectors - they all have a role to play in making Wales an international leader in sustainable development,' added Mr Parry.

'WWF Cymru is assisting the assembly in making Wales a more sustainable society through using the Global Footprint as a tool to help identify ways to reduce our demands on the planet's resources. Cardiff and Gwynedd Councils and ten other organisations are involved in the Wales Footprint project,' he added.

* Welsh Local Government Association rejectsWWF criticisms.

Notes

1. 'Living Differently' by Andrew Flynn, Cardiff University provides a review of the way the assembly has implemented its sustainable development duty and identifies some of the challenges over the next four years. To read the report click here.

2. WWF defines sustainable development as 'improving the quality of all human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems'.

3. Under section 121 of the Government of Wales Act, the naational assembly has a legal duty to set out a sustainable development scheme. This requires the assembly to review its sustainable development scheme following an election. The assembly's own review of its scheme 'Learning to Live Differently' is available here.

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