The UK Government must establish a long-term framework for the environment and implement policies to provide more certainty and support investment.
That’s the verdict from the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), which has worked with a range of business, environmental and professional institutions to develop a set of key assurances it believes are needed for the country’s new Environment Act.
The organisation calls for the government to “put sustainability at the heart of the UK’s economic model” and provide more predictability in order to allow businesses to factor the environment into their future plans.
It says the government must define shared environmental objectives to allow all sectors to effectively plan and invest – it states this will allow them to better avoid being stuck with ‘stranded assets’ linked to unsustainable activities and help meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The group also calls for predictable government processes to be established to ensure appropriate policies are in place, as well as for parliament to set up an independent oversight body to keep track of government progress and action in these areas.
It stresses long term objectives must maintain and restore the environment so it is “healthy, resilient and sustainable for the benefit of people, wildlife and the economy” – the IEMA suggests this can be achieved by maintaining or strengthening all existing regulations and practices relating to the natural world.
It notes quantifiable targets to measure progress should be set in law within two years, with milestones every five years and stresses the need for a coherent approach to be undertaken across the entire UK – it states that currently, each of the devolved administrations interact with the environment in complex and often different ways.
The IEMA notes consultation and co-operation are needed to develop policies with cross-border implications and to set a consistent position on relevant international agreements.
Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor, said: “It is vital that the UK sets long-term objectives for protecting and improving the environment as we leave the EU.
“The Environment Act is a one-off chance to create a coherent framework to put sustainability at the heart of our economic model and enable all parts of society to plan, invest and collaborate to substantially improve the environment on which we and future generations depend.”