Farewell to the Sustainable Development Commission… another one bites the dust

So, the swingeing cuts have included the government funding for the ‘arms length’ Sustainable Development Commission – for which I have been an expert panel member since its inception in 2006. I’ve just received a letter telling me it will close at the end of 2010 unless the devolved administrations want to keep some form of it going for regional issues.

The SDC will be a real loss, in terms of the role as a focus of ideas, debate  and influence it has brought to sustainability. Personally I’ve learned a lot being exposed to the range of bright dedicated people who are either part of the organisation, or contribute to it.

Highlights for me have included:

– Tim Jackson, economics commissioner, producing last year ‘Prosperity without Growth’, a well researched treatise challenging the existing economic model that requires continually financial growth for economic wellbeing. Some great ideas and opinions, even if, when I discussed it with him face to face, I had a few points of challenge (from my myopic business world view, anyway!)

– ‘Breakthroughs for the 21st Century’ conference last year, bringing together the winners from thousands of ideas for how to improve the UK, from green urban regeneration to kids education to financial system overhall. A real priviledge to have been part of the debate, and of course to get to ask questions to the potential future labour leader Ed Milliband who at the time was there representing the government.

– The many consultations that I’ve had the chance to be part of – in some cases contributing (eg Heathrow expansion consultation) and in some cases being wowed by the ideas of others (the ‘low carbon schools’ consultation was really inspiring)

So I want to thank the SDC for the legacy it is leaving, mourn its loss, miss what the expert panel brings to me personally, and hope that this doesn’t mean a future lack of sustainability thinking within government, but more that we’ve reached the point of ownership and adoption of this thinking across all departments…

In the meantime, if you want to read more of their great work, click here…. catch it before its gone!