ESDNewsletter March 2010

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on "Futures studies in the governance for sustainable development: Overview of different tools and their contribution to public policy making"

This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) focuses on the potential contribution of futures studies and their analytical tools (foresight and scenarios) to governance for sustainable development (SD). SD is associated with a difficult multi-scale and multi-level transition requiring a long-term vision of the future and new approaches and tools to realise that vision. The examples offered in this report intend to show national- and international-level initiatives where futures studies have been employed successfully and integrated in the policy-making process, and we suggest that these tools are well-capable of supporting governance for SD.

In the first section of the QR, the challenges for governance for SD are explored. The second section focuses on futures studies (particularly visioning, foresight and scenario planning) and their placement in policy planning and strategic management processes in more detail. It describes the processes of foresight and scenario planning and identifies some of the conditions necessary for successful deployment of these tools. The third section offers an analysis of several case studies (national foresight programmes and horizon scans in the UK and the Netherlands, Belgian Federal Reports on SD, the report Getting Into the Right Lane for EU 2050, Environmental Outlooks of both the OECD and UNEP) of the application of futures studies. It focuses especially on the institutional embedding of these processes and their integration into the policy cycle. The conclusions specifically attempt to show how futures studies can support governance for SD.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report

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News on the governance of sustainable development from various European countries

Austria: Meetings of the Round Table Sustainable Austria and sustainability audits of SD integration in federal provinces

In 2009, the Round Table Sustainable Austria, that brings together various stakeholder groups and actors from different political levels, held two meetings which are documented here. During 2009, the Austrian Court of Auditors carried out an audit of the integration of SD in the federal provinces Lower Austria, Styria and Vorarlberg. The results were published in February 2010 and can be found here. Also in 2009, the Austrian Court of Auditors audited the mechanisms and performance of SD integration in the federal provinces Vienna, Carinthia and Upper Austria, and carried out a review on the federal level. The results will be published later in 2010.

Czech Republic: Updated NSDS

In its session on 11 January 2010, the Czech Government adopted by its Resolution No. 37 the updated Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Czech Republic entitled, "Strategic Framework for Sustainable Development in the Czech Republic". An implementation plan for the Strategy will be submitted to the Government before 31 May 2010.

Finland: National assessment of the impacts of sustainable development

A comprehensive national assessment of sustainable development was completed in December 2009: The main objective of the assessment was to evaluate the implementation of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development of 2006 and assess the importance and impacts of sustainable development in Finnish policies and administrative practices, as well as give a picture on the state of sustainable development in Finland. The assessment was conducted as an external evaluation (undertaken by Ramboll Management Consulting). and discussed in the meeting of the Finnish National Commission for SD in December 2009. The report has been translated into English and will be soon available on the internet (

Montenegro: Reformed NCSD, revision of NSDS Action Plan and project on promoting SD

National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) of Montenegro was reformed and held its first regular plenary session in late January 2010. During this session, the NCSD adopted its work plan for 2010 and the Minister of Urban Planning and Environment was elected as vice chair of the Council. Moreover, a new mechanism of the NCSD was introduced: working groups will be held in-between plenary sessions. Thus far, four working groups have been established for four major topics of the Council’s Work of plan for 2010: (i) revision of the NSDS Action Plan and SD indicators, (ii) communication with the public, (iii) space as greatest challenge of future development in Montenegro, and (iv) strategic environmental assessment report for the construction of the hydropower plant on the Morača river. The revision of the NSDS Action Plan is foreseen for 2010 and has started in February 2010. A wide range of stakeholder will be involved in the revision process. Finally, the Office for SD, with the help of the Dutch Government, has begun to implement the project, “Promotion and Enforcement of the Concept of SD in Montenegro”, which aims to develop a national communication strategy for SD and develop local SD strategies and councils throughout Montenegro.

Switzerland: 'Good examples' on nutrition and SD

In the series, “good examples”, on the website of the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE), the topic of nutrition and SD is addressed in a report which is available in German, French and Italian.

Wales, UK: 8th Annual Report on SD

The Welsh Assembly Government has published its 8th annual progress report on sustainable development. The annual report for the budget year 2008-09 and a background document covering the broader context of the report can be found at the Welsh Assembly’s homepage.

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CORPUS project: Fostering interactions between policy-makers and researchers in sustainable consumption

“CORPUS – Enhancing the Connectivity Between Research and Policy-Making in Sustainable Consumption” is a project funded by DG Research in the current EU research framework programme (FP7). The project is closely linked to the ESDN and aims to develop and explore innovative ways of knowledge brokerage between and among researchers and policy-makers in order to foster evidence-based policy-making. There will be two ways of interaction and exchange: on the one hand, a web platform will provide important and up-to-date information on sustainable consumption and different means for virtual exchange; on the other hand, on-site interaction exercises (on three policy domains: food, housing and mobility) will explore innovative ways of knowledge brokerage in the form of face-to-face meetings. Throughout the project, CORPUS will establish close links to ESDN: this is guaranteed by the involvement of RIMAS (which also runs the ESDN Office) and the Finnish and Austrian Ministries of Environment (which are ESDN Steering Group members) as project partners as well as the active involvement of ESDN members in important steps of the project. Updates and invitations to CORPUS activities will be distributed regularly to ESDN members.

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New on ESDN homepage: ESDN Case Studies

Since March 2010, the new section “ESDN Case Studies” has been added to the ESDN homepage. In regular intervals, ESDN Case Studies will be published on specific or outstanding developments in relation to SD strategies or policies. In contrast to the Quarterly Reports that reflect on general issues and provide a broad overview on a topic, the Case Studies will look more in-depth into selected cases and their particularities. The case studies can also provide input to ESDN workshop and conferences. The first case study is entitled “Linking economic growth and sustainable development:  Strategies, initiatives and activities on the international, EU and national level” and provided important background information for the 5th ESDN Workshop in Madrid.

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5th ESDN Workshop in Madrid: Discussion paper, presentations and participant list online

The 5th ESDN Workshop, entitled “From Green Growth towards a Sustainable Economy?”, took place in Madrid on 25-26 March 2010. The workshop was hosted by the Spanish EU Presidency. A total of 67 participants from 19 European countries attended the workshop. The agenda, the workshop discussion paper, the presentations at the workshop and the participant list are online at the ESDN homepage. The workshop report that documents the discussions and working group results will follow soon, so please check back on the ESDN homepage.

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ESDN Conference 2010 in Ghent/Belgium, 4-6 July 2010

The ESDN Conference 2010 will take place in Ghent on 4-6 July 2010 and will be organised in cooperation with the incoming Belgian EU Presidency. This year, the conference is entitled “Towards an Economy compatible with Sustainable Development Principles: ‘Green’ Strategies in the context of Sustainable Development”. More information can be found at the ESDN homepage as well as on the conference website (

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We wish you a blossoming spring!

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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