North Sea Commission, Sustainable Development Group, Terms of Reference
The Sustainable Development Group (formerly the Environment Group) is one of the Thematic Groups set up by the North Sea Commission. Although the remit of this Group includes all aspects of sustainability, each Thematic Group needs to take responsibility for sustainability of issues relevant to them. The Sustainable Development Group will lead on natural resources, climate change, regional planning and development, energy and renewable energy, as well as innovation and technology aspects. A supporting role will be adopted to other strands of sustainability covered by other Thematic Groups.
To encourage the development of sustainable communities, the sustainable use of resources and the development of policies and actions which take full account of environmental requirements.
The aim of the Group is to input into and progress issues that affect local and regional authorities bordering the North Sea by co-ordinating and initiating projects involving all NSC members or on a partnership basis. The Group plays a dual role, helping both individual local authorities and larger regions to develop.
The Group will seek to influence future research and future EU and national policies. The Group will also take steps to encourage a heightened awareness of the North Sea as an important ecological area.
The Sustainable Development Group will seek to ensure that sustainable development principles are reflected in, and form a key consideration of, the work of the other Thematic Groups. Furthermore the Group will follow the implementation of the EU s Strategy for Sustainable Development (the Göteborg Strategy) on behalf of the NSC and advice the Executive Committee as well as other Thematic Groups as required.
Organisation and Administration
Membership is open to all NSC members. Other relevant stakeholders may attend meetings and join other activities, as required.
A regional politician, assisted by two political vice-chairs, chairs the Sustainable Development Group. If not already a member of the NSC Executive Committee, the Chair of the Group becomes an ex-officio member of the Executive Committee, with the two Vice- Chairs acting as substitutes. The Chair also acts as the official spokesperson for the NSC on issues covered by the remit of the specific Thematic Group.
A Adviser (normally a Council officer) is responsible for the administration of the Group. The Chair, Vice-Chairs and Adviser are appointed by the NSC Executive Committee.
The Chair or Adviser reports about the work of the Group at Executive Committee meetings and in an Annual Report to the General Assembly.
The Sustainable Development Group will liaise with other Thematic Groups to identify and work on areas of common interest.
The Sustainable Development Group will focus on a number of areas. These areas of interest include (but are not constrained to):
- Bio-diversity and Landscape
- Climate Change working to mitigate and adapt Energy (renewable and energy efficiency) Innovation
- Integrated Coastal Zone Management Maritime Planning and Development Natural Resource Use
- Regional Development
- Sustainable shipping
The Groups yearly activities will be specified in the annual Work Plan, subject to any changes that may occur.
A yearly Conference will be arranged in connection with the Group´s Annual Meeting. This should focus on important environmental/sustainable development issues, and encourage the broadest possible attendance from the member regions (and others), both politicians and officials.
A Steering Group meets in different member areas, as appropriate throughout the year, to undertake business and progress work. The Steering Group consists of the Chair, the Vice-Chairs and the Adviser, plus one Country Representative and a substitute from each North Sea country, which has members in the NSC. The Country Representatives have the responsibility to maintain regular contacts with their colleagues in other Sustainable Development Group members in their country. The Steering Group meetings may have a thematic part open to wider participation.
For some issues smaller working groups will be created to pursue specific tasks. These will be fed back into the Group at subsequent meetings.
The Group will research and debate issues of interest or under consultation in order for a cohesive response to be put forward as part of the NSC.
The Group will work towards funding of joint projects and to help member regions to find partners for new projects. It will also work to improve horizontal (between regions, local authorities and nations) and vertical (between EU/national/regional local) flows of information and to be actively involved in the planning and implementation of relevant European programmes.
The Sustainable Development Group will promote sustainability throughout the Thematic Groups through periodic review of minutes and ad hoc advice provided. The Group will act as a contact point for matters raised by other Groups regarding sustainability and best practice advice. This will provide a balance between the Lisbon and Gothenburg agendas.
The Group will make use of technology to ensure effective communication and dissemination of information. This will work towards reducing the environmental effects resulting from travel.
Links to other Thematic Groups:
Examples of interfaces and overlaps with other Thematic Groups (not necessarily exhaustive):
Culture & Tourism Group
Promote Sustainable Tourism Reduce the negative environmental impact of all tourism both large-scale mass tourism and small-scale eco-tourism .
Innovation & Education Group
Promote Sustainable Innovation in various branches, such as energy, marine technology, ICT, etcetera. Innovation in this cased is not merely inventing things, but also developing new and more efficient working methods and using existent knowledge in innovative ways. Promoting the inclusion of sustainability in all education, both in theory (in curricula) and in practice (such as environmental adaptation of school buildings, etcetera).
Maritime Resources Group
Supporting Sustainable Fisheries through i.e. protection of ecosystems as base for sustainable fish stocks.
Reducing the negative environmental impact of fisheries.
Promoting Sustainable Transports by supporting for instance Short Sea Shipping. Reducing the negative environmental impact of transports on land and sea and in the air. Reducing the need for transport by promoting more efficient transport systems and modes.