ESDNewsletter June 2009

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on "Horizontal Policy Integration and Sustainable Development: Conceptual remarks and governance examples"

Horizontal policy integration in the context of sustainable development (SD) is commonly understood as balancing economic, social and environmental interests and policies in a way that trade-offs (or negative effects) between them are minimised and synergies (or win-win-win opportunities) maximised. This ESDN Quarterly Report explores the meaning of horizontal policy integration in the context of SD, it highlights in how far the functioning of public administrations stand in the way of meeting this governance challenge adequately, and what governments do to overcome these barriers. It briefly characterises selected strategic instruments (e.g. SD strategies, departmental action plans, impact assessments, etc) and institutional structures (e.g. inter-departmental committees, national SD councils) that aim to foster horizontal policy integration. The report concludes that addressing horizontal policy integration adequately requires not only an update of existing SD strategies or the launch of more inter-ministerial institutions. It would require a more holistic approach of ‘Strategic Public Management’ that reforms the functioning of the public sector in more fundamental ways. As the New Public Management movement (geared mainly towards efficiency gains) has shown, this is an ambitious but not an impossible task.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report

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News on the governance of sustainable development from European countries

Austria: Austrian Agency for Education for SD has been established

The Austrian Agency for Education for Sustainable Development (Dekadenbüro) has been established by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture. It serves as an independent institution to coordinate Austrian activities within the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). Main tasks are to inform about and to facilitate cooperation between all stakeholders in the formal as well as non-formal and in-formal educational sector, which commit to the standards of ESD. The present Austrian Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development was tabled by the Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and the Federal Ministry of Science and Research and adopted by the Austrian Council of Ministers on November 12, 2008.

Estonia: New chairman and work plan for Estonian Commission for SD

The Estonian Commission for Sustainable Development gathered on 28 April 2009 to elect a new chairman and approve the working plan for 2009. Prof. Mait Klaassen, Rector of the Estonian University of the Life Sciences, as the delegate of the Estonian Rectors' Conference, was elected chairman of the commission. Mr. Peep Mühls, delegate from the Estonian Cooperation Assembly, serves as vice-chair of the commission. The Commission’s focal topics for the next two years are development of human resource and energy efficiency. First results of analysis on these topics will be available in autumn 2009. Along with this year’s first session, a public seminar on life-long learning was organised. It received good media attention as raising people's skills levels is an important measure for coping with the downturn of the economy.

Germany: State Secretaries' Committee for SD, sustainability impact assessment, peer review of German NSDS & cooperation between Federal Government and federal countries (Länder)

With the session of 29 June 2009, the State Secretaries’ Committee for SD (StA) completed its working programme up to the general elections at the end of September 2009. The working programme included important topics as regards NSDS implementation. The topics discussed in the last meetings were: feeding the world, the future of the EU SDS, sustainable consumption and sustainable construction, impacts of demographic change on sustainable finance policy, and perspectives of research for SD as innovation policy issue. The summary of the meetings is reflected in the press releases that are also available online (in German only).

A major reform to strengthen the implementation of the strategy in day-to-day policy-making: SD was introduced as criteria for the impact assessment for new laws or regulations. In May 2009, SD was included permanently in the standing orders of the federal government in the section which deals with impact assessment. A guideline, published by the Department for internal Affairs in June 2009, advises to use the indicators and management rules of the strategy in this context.

The Federal Government initiated a peer review of the German NSDS, organised by the Council for Sustainable Development on behalf of the Government. In June 2009, the group of independent peers met in Berlin and discussed the status of the NSDS. The group comprises seven peers from Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, UK, Canada, USA and India, chaired by Mr. Björn Stigson, President of the World Business Council for SD. The peers are expected to table a final report on their findings in autumn 2009. For further information click here.

In 2008, the federal countries (Länder) took part for the first time in the formulation of the NSDS progress report with a separate chapter, which has been adopted by the prime ministers of the federal countries. In this chapter the federal countries advocated for a stronger cooperation between the federal government and federal countries in the NSDS process. Concrete results of this were meetings between the head of the chancellery and the heads of the prime ministers offices of the Länder in 2008 and 2009. There was consent that possibilities for a stronger cooperation on SD should be deplored, especially in the sectors of public procurement, land use and sustainability-indicators. A joint Federal-Länder-Report from April 2009 is now discussed internally and shall be subject of another meeting between the head of the chancellery and the heads of the prime ministers offices of the Länder in 2010.

Netherlands: Monitoring Sustainable Netherlands and letter to Parliament

A joint publication of the Dutch bureau for statistics (CBS), the Economic Planning Bureau (CPB), the Social Planning Bureau (SCP) and the Environmental and Spatial Planning Bureau (PBL) on monitoring SD in the Netherlands has been issued in February 2009. A translation into English will be available in the fall of 2009. Some conclusions: the capital-approach is helpfull to operationalize and quantify SD; the main worries regarding SD in the Netherlands are its carbon emissions and the effect on biodiversity.

The Dutch Government has sent a letter to Parliament on 29 April 2009 to report on the progress on the inter-departmental approach regarding SD and gave a reaction on the monitoring. The Dutch version can be found here, an English translation will follow shortly. 

Spain: Report on SD published

The 2008 Spanish Report on SD, compiled by the Spanish Observatory for Sustainability (OSE), has been presented by the Minister of Environment on 18 June 2009.  It is available in the OSE website (, for the moment only is Spanish.

Switzerland: 2009 revision of MONET indicator system

Experience gathered since the MONET indicator system went online in 2003: Some elements were in need of improvement, e.g. the system was difficult to read as it was too large, some indicators lacked relevance, there were gaps in the system and international comparability was limited. The new MONET system is now more in line with the themes of the European Union’s SD indicators system. The revised system now has 80 indicators (instead of 130), twelve of which are new. More information can be found here. The list of updated MONET indicators as of 23 June 2009 can be accessed here.

Wales, UK: New SD Scheme of Wales launched on 22 May 2009

The First Minister for Wales and the Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing launched Wales' new Sustainable Development Scheme on 22 May 2009. “One Wales: One Planet, a new Sustainable Development Scheme for Wales” can be downloaded here.

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ESDN Conference 2009

The ESDN Conference 2009 took place in Prague on 17-19 June 2009. The focus of this year’s conference was on “Options and Opportunities for the Future EU Sustainable Development Strategy”. About 115 participants from 27 countries attended the conference. The discussion and background paper, the PowerPoint presentations, the participant list and a photo documentation can be downloaded at the ESDN conferences section of the ESDN website.

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Next ESDN Workshop in November 2009

The next ESDN Workshop will be held on 3-4 November 2009 in Brussels, following a Friends of the Presidency meeting. It will focus on horizontal policy integration and governance. More information will be announced in September 2009.

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We wish you all a relaxing summer time!

The ESDN Office Team at the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability

Andre Martinuzzi
Gerald Berger
Nisida Gjoksi
Markus Hametner
Ursula Kopp
Michal Sedlacko
Wilhelm Zwirner

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