ESDNewsletter July 2011

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on "Innovation and sustainable development: Linkages and perspectives for policies in Europe"

The main challenge towards the transition to greener, cleaner and more equitable economic growth is to address innovation not only from an economic, but also from a social and environmental dimension. The interface between innovation and SD is difficult to capture, as both are horizontal policy fields, sharing facets with each other and with other policy areas. For centuries, the concept of innovation has been primarily related to economic issues, but environmental and societal pressures have spurred the rethinking of innovations in the context of SD. In the political arena, increasingly stringent economic competition, unequal access to scarce natural resources, an aging workforce and environmental degradation have motivated European and national institutions to go beyond a traditional understanding of innovation. New innovation concepts such as “eco-innovation”, “social innovation”, “open innovation”, or institutional, governance and organisational innovation are increasingly regarded as a “window of opportunity” for the markets and society to move towards societal progress with an equal, low-carbon and knowledge economy.

The Quarterly Report June 2011 therefore aims to frame the discussion on innovation and sustainable development by outlining various recent concepts, approaches and paradigms, as well as assessing recent European initiatives and some examples of good practices at the national level, in the understanding and vision of innovation. The report is divided into four chapters. The first chapter includes a reflection on the various paradigms related to innovation in the political and scientific debates. It also introduces a definition of innovation and related concepts to be found in policy initiatives and outlines why innovation is currently on the political agenda. The second chapter shortly outlines the European 2020 flagship initiative ‘Innovation Union’ and the approach it takes to integrate the environmental, economic and social dimensions of innovation for sustainable development. The third chapter highlights some of the recent innovation initiatives on the Member State level (Finland, France, Germany and the Netherlands), focusing on innovation leaders’ strategies towards innovation for sustainable development. In the fourth chapter, the report sketches future challenges related to innovation policies in the context of SD which can serve as a basis for further discussions.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report

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

Austria: Indicator Report MONE 2011 to monitor SD in Austria published

In June 2011, the Indicator Report MONE 2011 was published by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. The report, which is available to download in English at, monitors the achievements in Austria towards sustainable development, based on 26 headline indicators (including, for instance, inequality of income distribution, compatibility of work and family life, energy consumption absolute and relative to GDP, material input, etc.)

Belgium: Long-term vision for SD required at national level and new Flemish Strategy for Sustainable Development “Vision 2050”

The previous Federal Plans (FPs) were drawn up in the context of implementing the Parliamentary Act of May 1997. The original Act has been revised in July 2010 and this revised Act calls for the development of a long-term vision for SD, based on which a new FP will be drafted. This vision has to comprise goals for 2050, intermediary goals by decennia and indicators for monitoring progress of implementation. The Flemish Region has recently published its new SD Strategy, “Vision 2050”, which can be accessed here. It is pointed out in this strategy that “a long-term vision is a compass indicating in which direction we must proceed to make our society more sustainable, and in which way we can move in that direction. It forms a basis for the strategic choices and activities of all social actors”.

Finland: Proposal for new set of indicators to complement GDP in the assessment of wellbeing

An expert group that advises the Finnish Prime Minister, Jyrki Katainen, proposes that a new set of indicators should be developed to improve the assessment of wellbeing. The indicators should paint a comprehensive picture of citizens' wellbeing and its sustainability. According to the expert group, any one indicator, such as the most common reference to GDP, is an insufficient basis for decisions on wellbeing. In addition to economic prosperity, there are other factors, such as health, meaningful employment and clean environment, which affect citizens’ wellbeing. To improve access to information on wellbeing, the Prime Minister’s Office and Statistics Finland should, in addition to the new indicators, develop their joint service as a main portal to wellbeing information. In addition to statistical information, there should be wider public and expert-level discussion on the factors that affect wellbeing and our society’s ecological, social and economic sustainability. Currently, the expert group’s report to the Prime Minister is only available in Finnish, but we’ll inform you as soon as it is available in English. 

Germany: Draft of the NSDS Progress Report 2012 out for consultation & information of the Parliamentary Committee for SD at the German Bundestag on the EU SDS

The draft of the Progress Report 2012 for the German NSDS has been made available online (in German only) since 20 June 2011. The consultation phase, during which comments and feedback are invited from national and also European stakeholders, runs until 30 September 2011. Please find more information on the draft Progress Report and the consultation at And, the Parliamentary Committee for SD at the German Bundestag (parliament) issued an information on the EU SDS which can be accessed here. In the information, the Parliamentary Committee reflects upon SD management (e.g. role of the EU SDS for other cross-sectoral European policy strategies, coordination between the EU SDS and the NSDSs of Member States); topics and indicators of the EU SDS and their relation to the German NSDS; and the importance of the EU SDS and expectations for its further development.

Montenegro: Revised Action Plan for NSSD adopted and interesting progress on horizontal and vertical integration

The Government of Montenegro adopted the Revised Action Plan of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (AP NSSD) for the period of 2011-2012 in its April session. The Office for Sustainable Development (OSD) has been put in charge of coordinating the implementation of this document, setting up an appropriate inter-sectoral mechanism for its monitoring and of submitting yearly progress reports to the Government. The Revised AP NSSD will soon be available online. In addition, interesting progress with regards to horizontal and vertical integration has been achieved: The two inter-ministerial teams for SD established in the previous quarter have already had multiple meetings. The cross-sectoral team of coordinators for SD is comprised of 30 coordinators from 16 ministries and the two Deputy Prime Ministers’ cabinets. The inter-ministerial group for communications for sustainable development has 16 coordinators from the aforementioned institutions. And in July 2011, members of the Local Council for SD will meet for a two-day workshop which will provide them with the necessary tools for the drafting and adoption of an Action Plan for the Local Strategy for SD. The workshop is a part of the ‘Fostering Dialogue and Partnerships on SD between the Government and the Business Sector in Montenegro’ project with the Dutch Government.     

Northern Ireland, UK: Implementation Plan for the SD Strategy published

On 23 March 2011, the Northern Ireland Executive formally adopted ‘Focus on the Future’, as its 2011–2014 Implementation Plan to accompany the Executive’s Sustainable Development Strategy, ‘Everyone’s Involved’. Focus on the Future sets out a detailed programme of action to turn the ambitions of the Strategy into reality; incorporating commitments by all twelve departments of Government, local government and contributors from the community and voluntary sector, as well as providing for a robust monitoring and reporting framework. The Priority Areas for Action addressed by the Implementation Plan are: (1) building a dynamic, innovative economy that delivers the prosperity required to tackle disadvantage and lift communities out of poverty; (2) strengthening society so that it is more tolerant, inclusive and stable and permits positive progress in quality of life for everyone; (3) driving sustainable, long-term investment in key infrastructure to support economic and social development; (4) striking an appropriate balance between the responsible use and protection of natural resources in support of a better quality of life and a better quality environment; (5) ensuring reliable, affordable and sustainable energy provision and reducing our carbon footprint; (6) ensuring the existence of a policy environment which supports the overall advancement of sustainable development in and beyond Government. The SD Strategy and the new Implementation Plan can be downloaded here.

Portugal: Second bi-annual report on NSDS implementation finalised

The second bi-annual report on implementing the Portuguese National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) was finalised on 15 June 2011. It was supported by the SD indicators (SDI) developed by the National Statistics Institute (NSI). The report has been coordinated by the Department of Foresight and Planning and International Affairs (DPP) under the Ministry for Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP), with the collaboration of all sectoral ministries. Moreover, local and regional authorities also provided contributions to the report. As a new Government has been elected on 5 June 2011, and new ministries have been put in place by 21 June, this second bi-annual report on implementing the NSDS will now be submitted to the new Government for adaptation.

Switzerland: New tool for sustainable quarters

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (BFE) and the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) have developed – in cooperation with the canton Waad, the city of Lausanne and the Schéma directeur de l'Ouest lausannois (SDOL) – a common national tool, entitled “sustainable quarters by Sméo”. It can be downloaded for free on the internet and aims to support municipalities and other interested stakeholders when taking decisions on the development of sustainable quarters. BFE and ARE have launched a funding program for municipalities and cities for using this tool and have published a brochure on the topic. More information can be found in German, French and Italian.


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ESDN Conference 2011 - "Framing and Focussing: European Resource Policies in the Context of Sustainable Development", Szentendre/Hungary, 27-29 June 2011 - documentation online

The ESDN Conference 2011 took place in Szentendre (near Budapest) in Hungary on 27-29 June 2011. The conference was organized by the ESDN in cooperation with the Hungarian EU Presidency. It was entitled “Framing and Focussing: European Resource Policies in the Context of Sustainable Development” and had two main objectives:

The ESDN Conference 2011 hosted 105 participants from 19 countries. We were grateful to welcome high-level keynote speakers (among them, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker and Jacqueline McGlade), representatives from the European Commission, the OECD, and the EEAC, as well as many national representatives who shared their experiences on resource policies with the conference participants. Together with the conference participants, the ESDN Steering Group started to formulate recommendations on framing and focusing European resource policies in the context of SD. These recommendations are currently finalized on the basis of inputs received in the last session of the conference. We'll keep you updated on how we will proceed with these recommendations.

A documentation of the conference, including the PPT-slides of all presentations, the conference discussion paper, the conference program, the participant list and a photo documentation can be found at the ESDN homepage. The conference report will follow later, so please check back regularly at our homepage for news and updates.

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The EU-funded project RESPONDER aims at linking sustainable consumption and growth debates. The project’s web-based knowledge brokerage platform at contains a set of background papers and first videos. Background papers available (please visit the RESPONDER knowledge base area

More background papers under preparation (please register for receiving an individual reminder once the papers are ready for you in the RESPONDER knowledge base area):

Videos available (please visit the RESPONDER community area

On 19-21 October 2011 the first RESPONDER EU Dialogue on Sustainable Consumption and Economic Growth will take place in Berlin (DE).  At this high-level event we will explore novel ways of knowledge brokerage between research and policy making and use participatory system mapping as a method to improve the mutual understanding of different approaches and paradigms. If you would like to join this EU wide event, please register at for an individual invitation. For more information on the project and the scheduled events, please go to

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CORPUS project: Forthcoming workshops on sustainable mobility and sustainable housing

The second CORPUS workshop of on sustainable mobility will take place in Szentendre, Hungary on 6-7 October 2011 at the Regional Environmental Centre (REC). It will bring together policy-makers and researcher to share knowledge on policy instruments that promote the sustainability of mobility. The first workshop on sustainable housing will take place in Helsinki on 24-25 November 2011 on the premises of the Finnish Ministry of Environment. At this occasion, policy-makers and researchers will discuss objectives and trends in sustainable housing and their policy relevance. For more information on the forthcoming workshops, please visit the CORPUS website.

“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

19th EEAC Annual Conference on Rio+20, 15-17 September 2011 in Wroclaw, Poland

The 19th EEAC Annual Conference will be held on 15-17 September 2011 in Wroclaw, Poland. The main conference day on 16 September is dedicated to the two main topics of the forthcoming UN conference on SD in June 2012 (UNCSD, "Rio+20"): 'Green Economy’ in the context of SD and Institutional Framework for SD. The EEAC conference will launch a statement and background papers prepared by their Working Group on Sustainable Development. The work was based on surveys, analysis and collection of good practice in a number of member states and regions. The deadline for registration and accommodation is 31 July 2011. More information on the conference and regular programme updates are available on the EEAC website at:

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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
Umberto Pisano
Michal Sedlacko

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