ESDNewsletter January 2011

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on "The 'Beyond GDP' Debate and Measuring Societal Progress in the Context of Sustainable Development"

The ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) December 2010 is a direct follow-up of the 6th ESDN Workshop held in Berlin on 2-3 December 2010. It provides an overview of the various measurement approaches in the current "beyond GDP" debate that aim at measuring societal progress with more comprehensive indicators than the economic progress-oriented approaches (e.g. GDP). The aim of the QR report is to provide an overview of the debate at the conceptual and political level in the measurement initiatives in going "beyond GDP" as well as to outline the challenges ahead in the reforms towards measuring social progress. The QR is sub-divided in three sections: The first section includes a reflection on the different concepts, such as quality of life and well-being, welfare, environmental wealth and their different underlying measurement frameworks in measuring societal progress. The second section provides a comparative analysis of concrete international and national initiatives of government authorities and international organizations in measuring welfare and well-being in the context of the "beyond GDP" debate. The third section outlines three identified challenges at the academic, measurement as well as at the political level in introducing reforms in measuring welfare and societal progress.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report

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

Finland: GDP and beyond - the Finnish approach to increase the use of well-being statistics in decision-making

Like a number of other countries and organisations, the Finnish Government has also reacted to the increasing demand to complement GDP with indicators that provide more accurate information on human well-being and the state of the environment. The objective makes part of Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi’s Government Programme signed in June 2010. In order to map out the current state-of-the-art and the need for improvement, the Prime Minister’s Office has appointed a working group consisting of experts in pertinent fields. The most concrete output of the working group will be recommendations to the national web-based indicator service, The service was developed jointly by the Prime Minister’s Office and Statistics Finland and launched in 2009. Findicator contains almost 100 measures describing trends in the Finnish society. The main output of the working group will be an action plan to widen, in future, the scope of indicators beyond the GDP in Finland. The action plan will be based on the working group’s recommendations to be issued between November 2010 and May 2011.

Germany: State Secretary Committee for Sustainable Development decides on sustainable development program for the federal administration

On 6 December 2010, the State Secretary Committee for Sustainable Development (political body) adopted a sustainable development program that must be implemented in every federal ministry and their related institutions. The program aims, for instance, to reduce the CO2 emissions in the federal ministries by 50 % until 2020 (based on 1990 figures), to increasingly use renewable energy for heating in federal buildings, to reinforce sustainable public procurement, to use improved technologies for videoconferences to limit travels and thus reduce environmental impacts, to improve the possibilities to combine work and family life, etc. After four years, the sustainable development program will be evaluated. More information can be found on the website of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

Luxembourg: New National Plan for Sustainable Development adopted by government

The Government of Luxembourg has adopted on 26 November 2010 Luxembourg's renewed National Plan for Sustainable Development which can be found in the country profile section at the ESDN homepage. The new document replaces the previous Plan of 1999.

Montenegro: Action Plan of NSDS and National Communication Strategy for SD soon to be adopted

The revised Action Plan of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development of Montenegro (NSSD) and the National Communication Strategy for Sustainable Development (for the period 2011 – 2013) have been sent to the government for adoption. As part of the revision of the Action Plan of the NSSD, a conference on “Indicators of Sustainable Development” was organized by the Office for Sustainable Development in November 2010 in Kotor, Montenegro. The representatives from governmental institutions, together with regional experts, discussed the process of defining the core set of sustainable development indicators and their role in the monitoring of the NSSD.

Slovenia: National set of SD indicators published

In November 2010, a key set of national sustainable development indicators was published by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia under an international project with financial support from Eurostat. One of the aims of the project was to improve the visibility and proper identification of the concept of sustainable development in Slovenia. The final set of indicators was grouped into three sections: well-being, balance and modesty, and intergenerational cooperation. Each field is described through environmental, economic and social aspects.  The document can be downloaded here.

Spain: Regional Sustainable Development Strategy of Catalonia adopted

The regional Sustainable Development Strategy of Catalonia has been adopted at the end of August 2010. The document has recently been translated into English and can be downloaded here.

Switzerland: NSDS implementation & SD key indicators’ report

To make the Swiss administration's work more transparent, a technical report provides an insight into implementation activities carried out under the action plan. The second interim report on the strategy's implementation status was published in autumn 2010. More information can be found here. Moreover, a brief guide on 17 key indicators to measure progress towards sustainable development has been published in mid-December 2010. It addressed the question: Is Switzerland moving toward a sustainable society? The results of the indicator report can be downloaded here.

Wales, UK: Welsh Assembly Government's Sustainable Development Charter

The Welsh Assembly Government's Sustainable Development Scheme, “One Wales: One Planet”, commits it to encourage and enable others to embrace sustainable development as their central organising principle. The mechanism for this is its Sustainable Development Charter and associated guidance. Organisations that sign the Charter make a commitment to: identify and share their own best practice on sustainable development with other organisations; set themselves an annual sustainable development challenge; and share the learning from that challenge with other organisations. So far, 41 organisations have ‘signed up’ to the Charter since the launch at the Hay Festival in May 2010. They include Sharp Electronics, the Hay Festival, the National Trust, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Cardiff University, Aneurin Bevan Health Board, three national parks, six local authorities and, most recently, Marks and Spencer and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Welsh Assembly Government is working to expand and improve the effectiveness of the network of Charter signatories so that it can develop into an innovative community of practice on sustainable development. Further details of the Charter can be found on the Welsh Assembly Government's Sustainable Development internet pages.

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6th ESDN Workshop, Berlin, 2-3 December 2010: full documentation now online

The 6th ESDN Workshop, entitled “Reforms for Measuring Welfare and Wealth in the Context of Sustainable Development”, took place in Berlin on 2-3 December 2010 and hosted by the ESDN in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Despite the difficult weather conditions (snow storms over large parts of northern and central Europe), the workshop drew 53 participants from 14 European countries and spurred lively discussions. Full workshop documentation, including the workshop report, all presentations, results of working groups and the “country islands” as well as a photo documentation, is now online at the ESDN homepage.

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ESDN Conference 2011 in Szentendre/Hungary, 27-29 June 2011: save the date!

The ESDN Conference 2011 will be organised by ESDN in cooperation with the Hungarian EU Presidency and will take place from 27-29 June 2011 in Szentendre/Hungary (close to Budapest). This year’s conference will focus on “natural resource management/resource efficiency”. More information will be available soon and first invitations will be sent out in February 2011.

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CORPUS project: 2nd Workshop on Sustainable Food Consumption, Vienna, 27-28 January 2011

The 2nd workshop of CORPUS on sustainable food consumption will take place in Vienna on 27-28 January 2011 at the premises of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Environment. It will bring together policy-makers and researcher to discuss policy instruments applied to achieve more sustainable food consumption. The first workshop on policy objectives sustainable food consumption in the EU and Member States took place in October 2010 in Vienna and drew 55 participants (policy-makers and researchers) from 13 countries. ESDN members and friends are invited to participate at all CORPUS workshops.

The next CORPUS workshops in the first half of 2011:

“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 exchange between and among researchers and policy-makers in order to foster evidence-based policy-making in sustainable consumption. For more information on the project and the workshop, please go to

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Other news

Sustainable Society Index 2010 (SSI-2010)

The new update of the Sustainable Society Index (SSI-2010) is now available at If somebody asks you, “How sustainable is your country?”, the SSI might help you in answering the question. It uses a set of 24 indicators that integrate human, environmental and economic wellbeing and monitors 150 countries. In the process of preparing the 2010 update, the Sustainable Society Foundation has thoroughly evaluated the structure of the SSI and this resulted in a new framework, even more balanced and transparent than the previous one.

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We wish you all the best for 2011!

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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