This section of the website provides information on sustainable development in the 2007-2013 England and Gibraltar European Social Fund (ESF) programme. It:
- sets out background information on sustainable development and the UK Government’s response
- explains how sustainable development will be mainstreamed into the 2007-2013 ESF programme; including the requirements on ESF (and match funded) providers
- includes some tools to help providers and contract managers agree where practical changes can be made in the way sustainable development is applied to ESF funded activity, as well as wider organisational and partner impacts.
On this page:
- What is sustainable development?
- Why is sustainable development important?
- UK Government approach
- Revised England and Gibraltar ESF sustainable development mainstreaming plan
- What will this mean for staff delivering projects?
- 2012 mainstreaming progress report for sustainable development in ESF
- Sustainable development tools
Sustainable development can be defined as:
"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
(Brundtland Commission Report, "Our Common Future", 1987)
Sustainable development can only be achieved by designing policies and delivery arrangements which create a balance between economic, social and environmental concerns.
In the next 50 years, the earth's population is likely to increase by about 50% and cumulative growth in human economic activity will place between four and six times the current level of strain on the earth's environmental capital in the form of pollution and waste use.
- Increasingly, people all round the world are beginning to understand that “business as usual” is not a sustainable option. This is reflected in the EU's strategy 'Sustainable Europe for a Better World', which was proposed at the Gothenburg European Council in 2001. In 2006 the EU adopted its renewed Sustainable Development Strategy which aims to improve the quality of life for current and future generations by: changing the EU’s unsustainable consumption and production patterns; creating sustainable communities; and tapping the ecological and social innovation potential of the economy to ensure prosperity, environmental protection and social cohesion
- Renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy (191KB) (Council of the European Union website)
The Presidency’s report on the 2009 review of the EU’s sustainable development strategy emphasised that it will continue to provide a long term vision and constitute the overarching policy framework for all EU policies and strategies.
Sustainable development is one of the driving forces behind the new Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth that was adopted by the European Council in June 2010. The environmental challenges that are facing the labour market are reflected in the new guidelines for employment, which are an integral part of the Europe 2020 strategy. For example, Employment Guideline 7 calls on Member States to promote “job creation in all areas including green employment” and Guideline 8, which refers to the need for a skilled workforce, calls on Member States to “increase the responsiveness of education and training systems to current and emerging market needs, such as the low carbon and resource efficient economy”.
The new coalition government is committed to being the greenest government ever. It is taking action to cut carbon emissions, create the conditions for green growth, and improve resilience to climate change – all of which is necessary for delivering sustainable development and long term economic growth.
The Secretaries of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and for Energy and Climate Change will take the lead in mainstreaming sustainable development across government, and work is underway to develop the governance and framework for achieving this.
- Action plan for driving sustainable operations and procurement across government (393KB) (DEFRA website)
Also, government aims to lead by example by reducing the emissions of the government estate by 10% and ensuring government purchases sustainable goods and services.
The Department for Work and Pensions is committed to building sustainable development into all its policies, plans and decisions as well as procuring sustainable goods and services.
This updated mainstreaming plan was agreed by the ESF sustainable development sub committee at its meeting on 13 December 2012.
The main focus of the mainstreaming approach for the remainder of the programme period will be on how best to integrate the theme in the next programme.
Clearly, the strategic priorities of jobs and skills are the main drivers for ESF activity. However, the programme also has a strong emphasis on making sure that the environmental aspects of sustainable development are better integrated into delivery arrangements. Providers are expected to prepare sustainable development policies and implementation plans covering a range of environmental issues as described in the CFO guidance section of this website.
2012 mainstreaming progress report for sustainable development in ESF
The 2012 mainstreaming progress report for sustainable development in ESF is now available.
The report was agreed by the national ESF sustainable development sub committee in December 2013. It explains:
- the good progress that has been made in mainstreaming sustainable development; and
- the need to consider how best to mainstream sustainable development in the new 2014-2020 programme.
Previous years’ reports:
- ESF Sustainable Development mainstreaming progress report 2011 (112KB)
- ESF Sustainable Development mainstreaming progress report 2010 (879KB)
ESF providers are required to put in place appropriate sustainable development policies and implementation plans. These policies and plans will be assessed by contract compliance officers and are likely to be audited.
The generic tools developed to undertake these assessments are available for download.