Wednesday, 4 August 2010

So. Farewell then, SDC...

When the Tories (or the coalition if you want to be really pedantic) assumed power in the UK, I found myself instinctively yearning to despise them, but oddly enough struggled to find reasons to do so. Now however I'm almost relieved to confirm that they really have annoyed the hell out of me, by deciding to abolish the Sustainable Development Commission as part of their bonfire of the quangos/deficit reduction plan.

One of the highlights of the SDC's work was the visionary "Prosperity without Growth" report, which shocked a few poor deluded souls in government and beyond by recognising the systemic nature of the problems we face. By finally 'naming the problem' (and pointing towards a few pretty interesting alternative approaches too) I hoped the government could really push forward on the SD agenda. The SDC report is especially significant when you contrast it with other government policy documents on SD produced by DEFRA, which sought to frame the government's role in more passive terms as 'empowering' individuals to embrace behavioural change themselves. It's hard not to accept this has its place of course, but it's arguably nowhere near enough on its own to make a difference. My concern is that the SD agenda is becoming too influenced by a kind of neo-liberal individualism typefied by popular literature that suggests that all we need to do is 'nudge' people towards changing their behaviour. We needed the SDC to remind government of the need for systemic change - preventing irreversible climate change is going to need a slap not a nudge!

1 comment:

  1. Just a small observation on this post - while the UK Government has withdrawn funding the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments have not done so (yet). What we (at the SDC - I am the Chair of the body in Scotland) are trying to do is to get the 3 nations to agree to work together to keep their SD capacity with us in play. We don't know how this will go, but are hoping that there will be some residue SDC role in the UK - even if the Tory/Coalition are not looking for such advice!