ESDNewsletter December 2009

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on "Sustainable development and economic growth: Overview and reflections on initiatives in Europe and beyond"

This Quarterly Report (QR) focuses on the linkages between sustainable development and economic growth from a conceptual perspective and provides reflections of these concepts in the strategies, initiatives and other exploratory events at the international, European Union and national level. The QR is subdivided into four parts. After outlining the historical development of the growth debate and its linkages to the sustainable development process, the current paradigms and the divergences between mainstream economics and ecological economics are presented in the first part. In the second part, the QR presents the manifestation of these concepts in the current Lisbon and European Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS). The third part provides an overview of strategies, initiatives and events at international level, specifically from international institution (UN and OECD), the EU institutions and initiatives in the EU Member States (France, UK, Ireland and Austria) and of selected Green Parties in Europe. For each strategy or initiative, the QR provides background information, lists objectives and topics covered, and gives information on the coverage of specific topics such as sustainable consumption, knowledge and innovation, employment and education. The overview on strategies and initiatives also includes information on responsible institutions and on implementation tools and shows follow-up measures for the future. Finally, the QR presents some concluding remarks on similarities and differences between these strategies and initiatives in their understanding of economic growth and sustainable development.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report

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News on the governance of sustainable development from various European countries & the European Commission

Austria: "Growth in Transition" - International Conference in Vienna on 28-29 January 2010

The project “Growth in Transition” has been initiated by the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. In the light of the current financial and economic crisis and intensive efforts for achieving economic growth – the question emerges which kind of growth we want for the future and which goals are targeted with it. The project “Growth in Transition” intends to trigger a dialogue among institutions and people about how we can shape this transformation process towards sustainability. It also aims at contributing to current EU and international processes (e.g. the EU initiative “Beyond GDP”).

The International Conference, “Growth in Transition”, will take place in Vienna on 28-29 January 2010. The conference is open to policy-makers, researchers and other experts, NGOs, business representatives. More information can be found at: Registration is open until 15 January 2010.

Belgium: 5th Federal Report on SD - "Sustainable Development Indicators, Objectives and Visions"

In October 2009, the Federal Planning Bureau (FPB) published the fifth Federal Report on Sustainable Development, entitled “Sustainable Development Indicators, Objectives and Visions”. The report contributes to the debate on instruments for measuring the progress of societies. It presents a large structured set of 88 indicators and a concise set of 18 indicators reflecting policy priorities. The report also discusses some synthetic indicators, such as the ecological footprint and the human development index. Based on the analysis, the report formulates ten recommendations on tools for measuring progress. The report is available in French and Dutch (see: In early 2010 a brochure on the report will be published in English. Available in English, however, is a brief outline of the report is presented on the FPB web site (see: and an article there goes into some synthetic indicators for measuring development progress beyond GDP (see:

Flemish Government: Education for SD and Action Plan for Sustainable Public Procurement

The Flemish government adopted an implementation plan for the UNECE Strategy on the UN Decade for Education for SD (DESD). In Flanders, some exemplary work is being done within two transition processes: one concerning closing material loops and one concerning sustainable building and living. Transition processes strive to achieve structural socioeconomic transformations. Networks will bring together individuals and organisations (universities, industry, governments and NGO’s) in order to co-create breakthroughs. The transition process concerning closing material loops focuses on local, short and transparant material loops. The transition process concerning sustainable building and living strives to have only sustainable buildings being built by 2020 and an increase in retrofitting existing dwellings. Moreover, the Flemish government recently adopted an Action Plan for sustainable public procurement. Based on a progressive, iterative process of 4 subsequent Flemish action plans the target is to reach 100% sustainable public procurement by 2020 in Flanders. 

Cyprus: Update on the governance of SD

Cyprus is currently revising its National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) which has been prepared within the EU Sustainable Development Strategy framework. The revision process was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009, yet due to some input delays from a number of departments and organizations, the revised NSDS date had to be postponed until April 2010.Moreover, the country is preparing the introduction of sustainable development indicators.

France: Preparation of new NSDS

In preparation of the new NSDS for 2009-2013, a country-wide broad stakeholder consultation process has been organised in France, called ‘grenelle de l’environnement’, which started in summer 2007 and ended in October 2007. During the following months, more than 800 people have met regularly in 34 working groups, including representatives from the sub-national levels. The results of the working groups (268 commitments) have been integrated in the preparation of NSDS 2009-2013 and the representatives of the sub-national levels are now involved in the follow-up committee “comité national du développement durable et  du Grenelle de l’environnement (CNDDGE)”.

Germany: Peer Review on SD Policies

The German Federal Government mandated Björn Stigson, the President of the World Business Council for SD, and a group of peers to conduct a Peer Review of Germany's SD policies. The Peer Review Report was handed over to Chancellor Angela Merkel on November 23, 2009. Peers from Sweden, Finland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, India, Canada and the USA brought their experiences to bear on the opportunities and challenges for Germany's SD policies in an international context and in the context of innovations towards a low carbon economy. The report acknowledges Germany a potential key position to spearhead the transition to a more sustainable development if Germany overcomes domestic weaknesses and makes a move to substantial institutional reforms, and sets out to empower society's vision towards what the peers call the "Grand Design 2050". The Peer Review comes up with a set of clear recommendations addressing politics, the parliament, the business community and civil society.  The German Council for Sustainable Development facilitated the reviewing process. You can download the Peer Review Report at Further information on the Peer Review Process is available at

Lithuania: New NSDS adopted

In September 2009, the Government of Lithuania adopted a new version of the NSDS of Lithuania. New is a Plan of Implementation of measures of the Strategy with concrete responsible offices for implementation. A list of SD indicators is also supplemented to the new NSDS. Currently, the new NSDS is only available in Lithuanian ( We will inform you as soon as the English version is available electronically.

Montenegro: Newly reformed National SD Council, monitoring of the NSDS and revision of NSDS Action Plan

Following the results of its 2008 reform, the National Council for Sustainable Development held its inaugural session in December 2009. The Prime Minister has been elected as the Council President. The other members of the Council are: 4 ministers, head of the Office for Sustainable Development (secretary of the Council), 3 mayors, 2 members of academia, 4 representatives of the business sector, 4 representatives of the civil sector, and 4 independent experts/persons. The first regular session of the reformed Council is planned for February 2010.

In December 2009, after the positive opinion of the National Council for Sustainable Development, the Government of Montenegro adopted the Second Annual Report on the Implementation of the NSDS which was prepared by the Office for Sustainable Development. This report includes a list of proposed core indicators of sustainable development, drafted as a result of the expert cooperation between the Government of Montenegro (Office for Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Urban Planning and Environment) and the Department for Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (UN DESA). The final list of core indicators will be adopted in 2010.

Starting from January 2010, the revision of the NSDS Action Plan will start as a multi-stakeholder project between the Government of Montenegro and other stakeholders in the Montenegrin society.

Spain: Report on NSDS

The first assessment report of the Spanish NSDS, which was already approved two years ago, will be discussed by the Inter-Ministerial Group on the NSDS in January 2010. After the discussion in the Inter-Ministerial Group, the government needs to approve the report

Switzerland: New Pocket Statistics on SD, SD indicators collected on the canton & municipal level & publication on education for SD

In November 2009, the Pocket Statistics on SD have been published and can be downloaded at Moreover, the SD indicators for the cantons and municipalities (Cercle Indicateurs) were collected. Information on these indicators is available in German, French and Italian. Finally, a new document on education for SD has been added to the series “Good Examples of SD”. It can be downloaded in German, French and Italian

European Commission: EU SDS progress review, “EU 2020” strategy and 2009 Monitoring Report of the EU SDS

As foreseen in the EU SDS, the Council of the EU reviewed progress of the strategy in its meeting in December 2009. The Council Conclusions are available online as is the EU SDS review report prepared by the Swedish EU Presidency.

In November 2009, the European Commission presented the “EU 2020” strategy that is designed as successor of the current Lisbon Strategy. The proposed strategy is open for consultation until 15 January 2010.

Moreover, the 2009 monitoring report of the EU SDS has been published and is now available on Eurostat’s website. The Eurostat monitoring report, based on the EU set of SD indicators, provides an objective, statistical picture of progress towards the goals and objectives of the EU SDS. It is published every two years and underpins the European Commission’s progress report on the implementation of the strategy (this document can be downloaded here. The statistics covered illustrate the range of issues relevant for SD and will contribute to raising awareness of the opportunities and challenges lying ahead. Quantitative rules applied consistently across indicators and, visualised through weather symbols, provide a relative assessment of whether Europe is moving in the right direction, and at a sufficient pace, given the objectives and targets defined in the strategy. The data presented cover the period from 1990 to 2007-8 (latest data available). The printed version will be available in January 2010.

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4th ESDN Workshop in Brussels: full documentation online

The 4th ESDN Workshop on “New Drive for Sustainable Development Strategies – The Power of Smart Linkages” was held in Brussels on 3-4 November 2009. The workshop was co-hosted by the ESND and the Swedish EU Presidency. A full documentation of the workshop (discussion paper, Power Point slides, workshop report, etc.) is now online at the ESDN homepage.

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Save the date: ESDN Workshop in Madrid (25-26 March 2010) & ESDN Conference 2010 in Ghent/Belgium (5-6 July 2010)

The next ESDN Workshop will take place in Madrid on 25-26 March 2010 and will be co-hosted by the incoming Spanish EU Presidency. The preliminary title of the workshop is “From Green Growth towards a Sustainable Economy?”. More information on the workshop and an invitation email will be sent out in early 2010.

Finally, the ESDN Conference 2010 will be organised in cooperation with the forthcoming Belgian EU Presidency (of the second half of 2010) in Ghent on 5-6 July 2010. More information on the conference will also be distributed in early 2010.

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e wish you a peaceful Christmas and all the best for 2010!

The ESDN Office Team at the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability

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

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