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ESDNewsletter October 2013

This ESDNewsletter informs about the following topics and activities on sustainable development in Europe:

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on “Planetary Boundaries for SD – From a conceptual perspective to national applications”

This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides an overview of the planetary boundaries concept and the related framework. In addition, it seeks to reflect on possible links between planetary boundaries and sustainable development as well as on chances and opportunities for its approach to be considered by the policy-making world in the context of international governance for sustainable development, but also at the national and regional level.

In the first chapter, we provide a comprehensive overview of the concept of ‘planetary boundaries’. Firstly, we look at how the concept has been developed. Secondly, we describe the scientific basis in a very concise way and with the help of several visual and descriptive tools. Finally, we briefly consider the topic in light of the sustainable development discourse, also looking at it from a social and equity perspective.

The second chapter provides an overview of the responses that the planetary boundaries framework has received, especially with an eye on the policy-making world. We look at different angles, from the global sphere (such as the United Nations), the supra-national perspective of the European Union, and also the national viewpoints from eight European countries (i.e. Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom), always keeping in mind the sustainable development context. In so doing, we explore whether chances and opportunities can be found, particularly in terms of application and implementation, of the planetary boundaries framework. With this intention, we summarise and present a research study commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), which represents the first attempt to comprehend the feasibility of using planetary boundaries as a framework for understanding national contributions to the transgression of the planetary boundaries.

Finally, the concluding chapter presents the main arguments explored in the report and provided several reflections that we consider interesting and potentially stimulating for furthering the planetary boundaries framework’s uptake, especially in the policy-making world.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

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10th ESDN Workshop, “Fostering Urban Sustainable Development: Potentials and Challenges for National and European Policy”, Brussels on 28 January 2014

The 10th ESDN Workshop, entitled “Fostering Urban Sustainable Development: Potentials and Challenges for National and European Policy”, will take place in Brussels on 28 January 2014. The workshop is organized by the ESDN in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. 

The workshop will facilitate an international exchange on overarching strategic policy initiatives on urban sustainable development at the UN, EU, Member State and sub-national level, covering environmental issues, regional development, economic and social policy fields. Accordingly, the workshop aims to foster the exchange between experts to intensify co-operations and alliances between EU, national and local policies for urban SD. The outcomes of the workshop will suggest options to better link policy levels and governance structures for urban SD.

A Workshop Outline can be found on the ESDN website. More information on the workshop and a draft agenda will be posted soon.

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News on the governance of sustainable development from various European countries and the EU

Austria: First Sustainable Development Action Week in October 2013

The first Austrian Sustainable Development Action Week took place from 4-10 October 2013. About 250 events took place during this week, initiated by businesses, NGOs, associations, ministries and other public bodies, local authorities, and individual citizens. The events showed the broad commitment to and innovative approaches for a sustainable development of society. The SD Action Week was organised by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and the SD Coordinators of the Austrian regions.

The spectrum of activities ranged from integration policy and socio-economic projects, neighbourhood initiatives, up-cycling courses, CSR management seminars, political discussion forums to university symposiums. Overall, the SD Action Week showed a remarkable diversity and dynamic of activities on all three dimensions of sustainable development. More information on the SD Action Week can be found here (http://www.nachhaltigesoesterreich.at/index.php) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/nachhaltigesOE).  

Finland: Proposal for the society´s commitment to sustainable development ‘The Finland we want by 2050’

A  group of 18 experts and  civil servants working for the Finnish Ministry of Environment and for the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development (FNCSD) have prepared a proposal for the society’s commitment to sustainable development “The Finland we want by 2050”. Please find more information on the Finnish country profile on the ESDN homepage (http://www.sd-network.eu/?k=country%20profiles&s=single%20country%20profile&country=Finland). The next step is the political discussion in the FNCSD in mid-October 2013.

Germany: Second peer review of the German NSDS – Peer Review Report published

The second Peer Review of the German NSDS was finished and the Peer Review Report by the peers (chaired by Björn Stigson, former president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – WBCSD) has recently been published. The report, entitled “Sustainability – Made in Germany”, includes 15 recommendations to foster implementation. The Peer Review report 2013 (in English) can be found at the German country profile of the ESDN homepage: http://www.sd-network.eu/?k=country%20profiles&s=single%20country%20profile&country=Germany#evaluation.

Montenegro: Report on the implementation of the National Strategy for SD (NSSD) and start of NSSD revision

The fifth report on the implementation of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD) for the period of January-December 2012 has been adopted by the Government in July 213 and is available via the following link: http://www.mrt.gov.me/odrzivi/odrzivi-nacionalna-strategija/129428/Nacionalna-strategija-odrzivog-razvoja-Crne-Gore-2007-2012.html. Moreover, as part of the process of revising the NSSD, which has started in August 2013 and will last until September 2014, wide participatory consultations with various stakeholders are going to be conducted. Within the process of NSSD revision, the set of core indicators will be revised as well as future mechanisms of monitoring and evaluation of revised NSSD.

The National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) is in the process of re-establishment. The first session of the renewed Council, the name of which will change to National Council for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, is expected in mid November 2013. And, the Government of Montenegro has adopted the Report on Millennium Development Goals in Montenegro for the period 2010-2013. The Report was prepared under the overall coordination and leadership of the Ministry for Sustainable Development and Tourism in the Government of Montenegro, and in consultation with the United Nations (UN) System in Montenegro and, as such, will serve as one of the inputs for the revision of the NSSD.

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Other news

Recommendations by the European Resource Efficiency Platform on actions for a resource efficient Europe

The European Resource Efficiency Platform, that provides high-level guidance to the European Commission, Members States and private actors on the transition to a more resource-efficient economy, has issued short-term policy recommendations on the topic in June 2013. The 8 recommendations are designed to create growth and jobs; provide incentives to overcome barriers to improving resource efficiency; put a proper value on resources; provide clear information and measure progress; and promote new business models. The policy recommendations on resource efficiency can be downloaded here: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/resource_efficiency/documents/action_for_a_resource_efficient_europe_170613.pdf.

New Nordic strategy and indicators for sustainable development

The Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) has published a new strategy for sustainable development: A Good Life in a Sustainable Nordic Region. The Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland) have established joint objectives until 2025 within the following focus areas: the Nordic welfare model, viable ecosystems, changing climate, sustainable use of the earth’s resources, and education, research and innovation. The sectoral ministerial councils will supplement the strategy with concrete activities and measurable goals.

According to this new strategy, a sustainability perspective should be integrated in all work carried out by the organization. The NCM is currently developing new tools to facilitate the integration of sustainability into every area of Nordic co-operation, not just on the strategic but also on the practical level. In addition, the countries have agreed on a set of sustainability indicators that give an overall picture of the progress of the region, giving reliable information and comparable data on the Nordic countries. The website also offers free access to the Nordic Statistics database, which allows you to download data and create graphics for your own analysis.

COBALT Opening Conference on “Industry and society’s needs for sustainable management of raw materials in Europe: Exploring solutions for future action”, Brussels, 28-29 November 2013

A conference on sustainable raw materials management, that also aims to contribute to the work of the European Commission’s European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials, will take place in Brussels on 28-29 November 2013. The conference, “Industry and Society’s needs for sustainable management of raw materials in Europe: Exploring solutions for future action”, will bring together the EU and national representatives from industry, civil society, public authorities, research and geological surveys to explore and discuss opportunities and strengths related to sustainable raw materials supply and use in Europe. More specifically, it will look at potential solutions along the value chain from extraction to consumption and recycling at end of product life. The conference will also identify how industry can be best supported to meet the challenge of changing global material demands in ways which also deliver on social and environmental needs in relation to raw material management. The conference is organised in the context of the FP7-funded project COBALT. Please find more information and a registration link at: http://www.cobalt-fp7.eu/conference.

New report by the European Environment Agency on Green Economy

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has, in July 2013, published a new report, entitled “Towards a green economy in Europe – EU environmental policy targets and objectives 2010…-2050”. ‘Green economy’ has emerged as a priority in policy debate in recent years. But what does the concept mean in practice and how can decision-makers measure progress towards this strategic goal? This report provides some answers, presenting a detailed overview of the key objectives and targets in EU environmental policy and legislation for the period 2010-2050. It focuses on selected environmental and resource policy areas, specifically: energy; greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and ozone-depleting substances; air quality and air pollution; transport sector emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants; waste; water; sustainable consumption and production (SCP); chemicals; biodiversity and land use. The report can be downloaded from the EEA website at http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/towards-a-green-economy-in-europe.

Study on the ‘state of play’ of the Green Economy

The Green Economy was meant to be the breakthrough concept at the United Nations Conference "Rio+20" in 2012. What happened? Did the concept take a beating, or get a boost? Is the Green Economy still just a dream ... or is it already a reality? This global strategic briefing looks at the ‘state of play’ in Green Economy policy and implementation around the world. What's happening? Who is doing what? What are the bright spots, and where are opportunities for action, that someone needs to take? The study was commissioned by WWF Sweden and researched by AtKisson Group Europe. The study can be downloaded free of charge at http://atkisson.com/greeneconomy.php.

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We wish you a colourful autumn!

The ESDN Office Team at the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability

André Martinuzzi
Gerald Berger
Andreas Endl
Markus Hametner
Katrin Lepuschitz
Umberto Pisano
Michal Sedlacko

http://www.sd-network.eu

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