Foreign Office beefs up environmental policy work

A new Environmental Policy Department (EPD) in the Foreign Office was formally launched in November. The unit signals a new determination by the Foreign Office to push sustainable development up the international agenda. Its formal mission is "to maximise, through the application of [Foreign Office] assets, the UK contribution to protecting and improving the quality of the global environment, as a foundation for sustainable development."

The EPD has 26 staff, more than double the number working on the environment until recently. They include secondees from business, environmental organisations and developing countries. The EPD's new deputy head, Helen Marquard, is on secondment from the Environment Department where she led the UK's team for the recent global negotiations on biosafety.

The EPD has five teams, working on climate change, environmental security, biodiversity, sustainable development and globalisation, and EU and multilateral issues.

It also operates three funds worth £2 million per year on climate change - sponsoring clean energy and Clean Development Mechanism projects in partnerships between UK businesses and developing countries - environmental projects in areas other than climate, and projects in the UK's 13 overseas territories.

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