I found myself then having to decide what approach to take when a journalist and photographer appeared to interview me for

an article in Whitehall and Westminster World on our plans for Sustainable Development (SD). Cue a happy 15 minutes in the cold outside Nobel House trying to get a decent photo of me against our plaque as staff were seeking to get in to the building to do their work. Oddly the photographer struggled to find my best angle and we resorted to the old Harry Worth pose by the reflecting doors. Sadly neither the journo nor Cate had a clue who Harry Worth was so only the photographer and I could reminisce about good old British comedy. The interview was enjoyable, at least for me, as we talked about our plans and the need to bridge the gap between some of the SD community who palpably failed to understand how government actually worked and some of government who had not yet bought into the SD approach. Quite a challenge for Defra to help broke that gap. But we agreed that we needed to go with the grain of Whitehall and that a Commission of 70 people would always struggle to influence five million public sector workers. We needed a new way forward and a much more coordinated and layered approach. And our plans were taking us there. Once the microphones and tape recorders were switched off we talked about my past and totalitarian regimes. I feel ‘very lucky’ to have endured time living under a dictatorship - it remains a life time reminder why we should value what we have, and why the grace of the civil servant under constant fire from public criticism is particularly to be valued. And so to the ‘mauling’ in the lions’ den (or should that be servals’ den? I will ask Alick to comment here on the credentials of servals as opposed to lions) of the SDC Big Sustainability Summit. It would be fair to say that Ashley Cole gets a more welcome greeting to the Arsenal than Government was ever likely to get from a body we are closing down and whose approach we are fundamentally changing. But Will Day, the Chair, was a charming and courteous host as ever and kept the baying audience broadly in check as I outlined how we were intending to take this forward. Will is a great character and used to run the Children In Need appeal for the BBC. He knows his stuff. I found myself cast in the role of pantomime villain and Sheriff of Nottingham as we were explaining our plans alongside the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for the Environment who decided to use the occasion to announce what is broadly a Welsh version of the SDC with a statutory duty for SD, i.e. pretty well an opposite approach to trying to achieve the same thing as we are. Nothing wrong with that as there are different ways to do it, but it did lead to constant clapping and standing ovations for her and stony silence and muted shakings of the head for me. A bit like being on Question Time. Or at tea with my kids and wife. To be honest I enjoyed the challenge as we are doing the right thing in the right way at the right time. Or does that sound too like Gaddafi? I will be saying that my people love me next, as Andrew L rather cruelly pointed out to me. But the SD mainstreaming is complex and we have a long way to go to get the whole of Government working this way. How do you get 5 million public sector workers thinking and working this way? I am comfortable we have got this one in the right space as you have to go with the grain of the way Government operates and against the backdrop of current realities, not Utopian ideals. The BBC man rather plaintively told me that he was trying to get a story out of the

event, although he looked deeply comical in the front row holding up the world’s biggest microphone like an ice cream cone, presumably so that the quality of the sound will be up to it if he ever persuades an editor that there is a story here. Odd life people lead who always seek conflict and criticism in reporting on others. The Secretary of State had told me that I must be deeply emollient and gracious in being attacked. She is spot on. Another virtue to add to the Watmore list for public servants - grace under fire. A glance at the Porridge blog leads to the usual conclusion from him that all Ministers and civil servants are bad or mad. I get bored with such mindless attacks on the public sector so was heartened to read an outstanding letter from the Perm Sec in the centre, Ian Watmore. You should all read this and enjoy the skewering of the notion that private sector is necessarily better or more innovative. You should pin it up on your walls. Right having attempted to keep a little discipline by checking all our team for air rifles this morning I went off to breakfast with the Secretary of State, Lord Henley and the Minister of State. We were entertaining the SDC Commissioners to explain to them our plans for mainstreaming SD. Some good questions on what we were trying to do despite disappointment that they are being wound up and scepticism that we were getting it right. The most interesting question was whether we as civil servants understood how to reconcile ‘wicked problems’ by looking at it from all angles of SD, economically, environmentally, socially, long-term versus short term. Actually this is what we are pretty good at, to add to Ian Watmore’s list. We like to use evidence, to work through stuff, to reconcile conflicts and to provide options. As long as the reconciliation of those conflicts does not require an air rifle trained at new entrants I think we are in the right space. Although it is a new performance management option for our new Perm Sec. Some of us then briefed the Secretary of State on our sustainable development (SD) announcement today. She was on top form following what’s been a tough period. Don’t try to be a Cabinet Minister unless you are resilient, as William Hague was discovering this weekend with taking his turn to be criticised. To get the announcement on SD right has required huge work from Jonathan and his team over the last almost 9 months since we took the decision to withdraw funding from the Sustainable Development Commission. The package we have now put together is pretty powerful, attempting a whole new approach to embedding sustainability in government thinking and policy making across the board. One of the successes of the team is in getting the Secretary of State on the Economic Affairs Committee chaired by the Chancellor, specifically so that she can act as the champion of sustainability for all policies which come to that Committee. Similarly in getting Oliver Letwin and the Cabinet Office to vet all Structural Reform Plans to ensure that sustainability is part of the equation for all OGDs. This will not resonate with the public but puts us right into the centre of Coalition activity. We will probably get attacked tomorrow by those who prefer centralised bodies as well as government funded activity on top of government funded activity and who prefer to carp from the sidelines rather than getting stuck in to making a difference where a difference really can be made . But this should not

detract from the fantastic work of the team. From the creativity and inventiveness of where they have gone on this and for their real care in engaging with those we have needed to talk to about how to get the changes.

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