ESDNewsletter January 2012

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on "Focus CSR: The New Communication of the EU Commission on CSR and National CSR Strategies and Action Plans"

This Quarterly Report refers to recent developments concerning Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Most importantly, the new Communication on CSR that was published by the European Commission in late October 2011 will be presented and discussed with two leading policy makers. We talked with Tom Dodd (DG Enterprise and Industry), who was one of the key actors in preparing the new Communication, and with Sue Bird (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), who is in charge of co-ordinating the CSR High Level Group. During the last months, we collected and analysed these policy documents, both from EU Member States and from countries outside the EU. The results are presented in the second part of this report, where you can find comprehensive overviews as well as three case studies of outstanding approaches (Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands). Our aim is to demonstrate the diverse roles of CSR strategies and action plans in Europe and beyond.

The new EU Communication on CSR puts forward a new understanding of CSR, which no longer refers to CSR as voluntary action beyond compliance but highlights that every corporation causes impacts which is responsible for. The impact areas (formerly just society and environment) have been enlarged by ethical, human rights and consumer concerns. To support policy learning among the European Member States, the Commission invites Member States to develop or update national CSR strategies and action plans and sets up a peer review system of public CSR policies. The maturity of public CSR policies differs among the European Member states significantly: Two thirds of the EU Member states already have a CSR strategy and action plan in place or are currently developing such a policy document (the findings are presented online using a clickable map with all country profiles). Scandinavia, the Anglo-Saxon region and Central Europe, are leading regions. Among Southern European countries, Spain may serve as a role model due to their mature and integrated approach. The Baltic States and Slovakia are on their way to develop national CSR strategies and action plans. In contrast, many Eastern European countries have not published any plan to develop a national CSR strategy and action plan by now. With regards to policy instruments, soft policy approaches are the most common in public CSR strategies and action plans. In terms of Governance structures, vertical and horizontal integration is the most common policy tool. The low number of CSR strategies and action plans containing indicators, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms raises the impression that many of these documents are not yet full-fledged strategies by now. We therefore recommend an increased knowledge exchange between policy makers who deal with CSR policies and the members of the ESDN.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

>> Please also check out the download version that has a brand new layout!

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

Netherlands: New Sustainability Agenda and Green Deals, National Platform Rio+20, Public-Private Partnerships

The Dutch government recently presented a new Sustainability Agenda. The agenda describes the key areas for sustainability and points out opportunities in creating a Green Economy and argues that investing in green growth goes hand in hand with investing in competiveness. ‘People’, ‘planet’ and ‘profit’ can be combined successfully, but only in a joint effort on a national, European, and international level. The Dutch government aims to create a framework in which the private sector, civil society and governments at all levels can achieve their sustainability goals. To promote and speed up the transition towards a Green Economy, the Dutch government recently launched its ‘Green Deals’, as part of the Sustainability Agenda. The Green Deals encourage the private sector, NGO’s and citizens to develop and execute plans for a more sustainable economy. Examples of Green Deals are a deal with the City of Amsterdam to build climate-neutrally by 2015; Air France-KLM will strengthen its efforts to fly on biofuels and develop sustainability standards together with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels; and KoppertCress will start a pilot project to store heat from their greenhouses in the summer for use during the winter, saving an estimated 1.8 million m3 of natural gas.

In the preparations for Rio+20, the Dutch government values the input of civil society. It, therefore, decided to establish a National Platform Rio+20 (NPRio+20), which coordinates civil society contributions. Between June 2011 and June 2012, the NPRio+20 will formulate 10 recommendations and ‘best practices’ for a Green Economy. The 10 recommendations and best practices will be collected through a series of meetings with businesses, youth, women, the scientific community and local communities and will then be presented to the Dutch government. The NPRio+20 also coordinates activities of participants to the platform that contribute to awareness raising on SD in general, and the Rio+20 themes in particular. The website of the NPRio+20 is:

To achieve its overall goal of sustainable economic growth in partner countries, the new Dutch development policy (2011) puts more emphasis on the role of the private sector and PPPs. The Netherlands view public-private partnerships (PPPs) between the government, the business community, the scientific community and other partners as effective in promoting sustainable growth and leveraging private funds for growth. New financial instruments, worth over € 200 million, will be set up in the Netherlands to promote PPPs in the thematic focus areas of food security and water. This will provide new opportunities for collaboration between the public and private sector in, for example, sustainable food production chains, water in relation to climate adaptation/mitigation and efficient and sustainable use of water for agriculture. Existing PPPs in the area of sustainable energy will be continued.

Slovenia: Draft Strategy for the Transition of Slovenia to a Low Carbon Society by 2050

The long-term climate strategy, or the Strategy for Slovenia’s transition towards a low carbon society by 2050, is foreseen by the Declaration on the active role of Slovenia in the creation of a new global policy on climate change and the Slovenian Exit Strategy. With the Declaration of November 2009, the Parliament recognised climate policy as a priority and requested the Government to make the transition towards a low carbon society and SD a central goal of Slovenia's Development Strategy 2020. The draft strategy was presented to the public for comment in September 2011. The public debate is scheduled until February 2012, after which it will be submitted to the Government and the Parliament for consideration and adoption. An Executive Summary of the Draft Strategy is available in English.

Walloon Region, Belgium: Update on the governance of sustainable development in the Walloon Region

The Walloon Government has a Minister of Sustainable Development. In May 2011, through a first policy note carried by the Minister of Sustainable Development, the Walloon Government agreed on the principle of providing Wallonia with a Strategy for SD. Responding to this necessity implies the adoption of a regulatory instrument which will give a legal basis to the general objective of SD pursued by the Region. This decree will also regulate the mechanism for developing and updating the Strategy for SD. A number of principles are nevertheless already generally accepted, such as updating the Strategy for SD every five years, insuring public participation or the non-binding, incentive character of the strategy. A task force composed of representatives from each Ministry is responsible for specifying the operational details of the Strategy for SD and the broad guidelines of the decree.

While the decree for the Strategy for SD is being prepared in Wallonia, the principles of SD have already been integrated throughout strategies and plans dedicated to sector-specific policies and transversal approaches, among them: The Environment Plan for Sustainable Development (PEDD plan) was published in 1995; the Plan Air Climate was adopted in March 2007 and contains a series of quan­titative objectives and around a hundred actions for all sectors aiming to reduce air pollution and help in the fight against global warming for 2020; the Marshall Plan 2.Green which is the revival plan developed for the Walloon economy. The Plan is based on a combination of trainings, research, development and territorial management. The Marshall Plan 2.Green promotes SD in all public policies and provides specific instruments and financial means for the pursuit of SD, including SD indicators and an administrative SD advisory unit. Furthermore, it contains several measures that are important in the context of SD, such as the creation of a hub of competitiveness dedicated to new environmental technologies which contributes to respond to the crosscutting concern of SD in the region – more information can be found online.

Eurostat: 2011 Monitoring Report of the EU SDS published

Eurostat has published its most recent edition of the EU SDS Monitoring Report, entitled “Sustainable development in the European Union – 2011 monitoring report of the EU sustainable development strategy”. The report, which Eurostat is requested to publish every two years under the EU sustainable development strategy, assesses progress towards the objectives and targets of the strategy. It draws on the EU set of sustainable development indicators maintained by Eurostat (see using assessment techniques developed in house and with the input of the Working Group on Sustainable Development Indicators.

The data presented cover, as far as possible, the period from 1990 to 2009/2010. They therefore clearly show the impacts (both positive and negative) of the recent economic crisis on various sustainable development issues. Most striking are the reductions in energy consumption and the associated decline in emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. On the other hand, many socioeconomic indicators were affected negatively, including employment, unemployment, investment, and – most notably – public debt. Other, mainly social indicators seem to be affected by the crisis in the longer term only, and so far show only slightly unfavourable signs, such as risk of poverty or exclusion, intensity of poverty, and suicides.

The preparation of the EU SDS Monitoring Report 2011 has been supported by the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability (RIMAS) in cooperation with partners from Germany (Ecologic Institute), Switzerland (INFRAS) and the UK (Institute for Public Policy Research) and with the input from about 20 renowned European experts.

The 2011 Monitoring Report is available for download from the Eurostat website.

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7th ESDN Workshop, Berlin, 27-28 October 2011: full documentation now online

The 7th ESDN Workshop, entitled “Perspectives for European SD Policy & Governance in the context of recent EU policy strategies and Rio+20”, took place in Berlin on 27-28 October 2011 and was hosted by the ESDN in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. In total, the workshop drew 45 participant from 16 European countries and spurred very lively discussions. A full workshop documentation, including the background paper, the workshop report, presentations, and the participant list, is now online at the ESDN homepage.

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2 new ESDN Case Studies: Case Studies No. 9 and 10 online

ESDN Case Study No. 9 is entitled, “The Swiss NSDS and its integration into the National Legislative Program”, and provides an overview of the Swiss NSDS process and its link to the Swiss Government Legislative Program. The case study has two major aims: on the one hand, it shows some insights into one of the most successful NSDS processes in Europe; on the other hand, it outlines the process of linking the NSDS to the national legislative program of Switzerland and thus making the strategy part of a high-level political planning document. In order to get first-hand information, especially on the NSDS link to the government legislative program, we interviewed Daniel Wachter, the Swiss NSDS coordinator.

ESDN Case Study No. 10 provides an in-depth look into the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy of Canada, which was adopted in 2010. It aims to identify the specific approach of strategic policy planning for sustainable development in Canada, one of the most important countries of North America. We have already included Canada in our ESDN Quarterly Report of September 2009 that covered sustainable development strategies beyond Europe, but the newly adopted federal strategy and the recent progress report of 2011 make a fresh look into the Canadian experience worthwhile.  Moreover, we provide a comparison of Canada’s SD Strategy and the renewed EU SDS of 2006.

>> Please have a look at the brand new layout used for the two Case Studies!

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Updated ESDN Joint Understanding online

The ESDN Steering Group adopted an updated version of the ESDN Joint Understanding at its meeting before the ESDN Conference 2011 in Szentendre/Hungary at the end of June 2011. The updated ESDN Joint Understanding is now online at the ESDN homepage.

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RESPONDER project: Documentation on first EU Dialogue online and forthcoming knowledge brokerage events

RESPONDER is a European project funded within the 7th EU Framework Programme aiming to link research and policy making in the area of Sustainable Consumption with the debates about economic growth. The first EU Dialogue of the project took place in Berlin on 19-21 October 2011. A full documentation of the event, including videos from keynote presentations and takes from the plenary debates, can be downloaded online at the RESPONDER website. Over the next months, a series of knowledge brokerage events are scheduled, each of them dealing with specific areas of sustainable consumption:

Sustainable Food Consumption and Growth, 25-27 January 2012, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisboa, Portugal.In the course of this knowledge brokerage event, participatory systems mapping will be applied to improve the mutual understanding between different communities, such as researchers and policy-makers, pro-growth and beyond growth, sustainable consumption and economic growth. In moderated interactive sessions, the following topics will be explored: Which factors influence the global environmental effects of a shift to a Mediterranean diet (less meat) in Europe? Could healthier and more sustainable diets lead to increased food waste in European households? How does increasing consumption of regional products affect the employment in domestic agriculture? There are still a few places left. If you are interested in participating at this knowledge brokerage event, please send an email to as soon as possible. For further details on the event, please go to the RESPONDER homepage.

Sustainable Consumer Electronics and Growth, 15-17 February, 2012, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. Again, participatory system mapping will be applied to improve the mutual understanding between different communities, such as researchers and policy-makers. In moderated interactive sessions we will deal explore topics like: What does the promotion of product innovations to increase energy efficiency (e.g. through labelling) imply for energy consumption and e‐waste? What will the diffusion of broadband imply for residential energy consumption? Can the promotion of telework contribute to energy savings and reduce environmental pollution by minimizing travelling needs? If you are interested in participating at this knowledge brokerage event, please send an email to as soon as possible. For further details, please go the RESPONDER homepage

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CORPUS project: "Research Agenda on Sustainable Food Consumption in Europe" online and information on forthcoming workshops on sustainable mobility and sustainable housing

The workshop series on sustainable food consumption has been finished and a full documentation can be found at the CORPUS website. As part of the workshop series, policy-makers and researchers jointly developed a “Research Agenda for Sustainable Food Consumption in Europe” which can also be downloaded; it includes themes, hot topics for research, and further knowledge needs and is, therefore, an important contribution to policy-led research in this field. The workshop series in sustainable mobility and sustainable housing are still running. Here are the dates of forthcoming workshops in the coming months:

The second workshop on sustainable housing will take place in Helsinki on 15-16 March 2012 on the premises of the Finnish Ministry of Environment. At this occasion, policy-makers and researchers will discuss policy instruments that promote the sustainability of housing. For more information on the workshop and how to register, please visit the CORPUS website.

The third and final CORPUS workshop on sustainable mobility will take place in Szentendre, Hungary on 19-20 April 2012 at the Regional Environmental Centre (REC). It will bring together policy-makers and researcher to share knowledge on future visions of sustainable mobility and their role in policy planning. Find more information on the topic and registration at 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:

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Conference, "Go sustainable, be responsible! European civil society on the road to Rio+20", 7-8 February 2012, Brussels

The EESC conference on 7-8 February 2012 is intended to voice European civil society's positions on Rio+20 and help make the UN conference a success. High-level speakers will inform about the objectives, the current state and the prospects of the Rio+20 process. The EESC conference will focus on the Green Economy as a means to enhance sustainable development within the limits of natural resources. The first general debate will tackle the European contribution to sustainability, while the second will address sustainable development in non-EU countries. Four workshops will give the opportunity to deepen the discussion and elaborate conference conclusions:

The conference is aimed at participants from European civil society associations, decision-makers, EU officials and public officials. Invited speakers are high-level representatives from the UN, the European Commission, internationally recognised speakers from the development and environment sector as well as from businesses and trade unions. Please find attached the draft programme of the conference. More information and up-dated versions of the conference programme can be found here.

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We wish you all the best for 2012!

The ESDN Office Team at the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability

Andre Martinuzzi
Gerald Berger
Markus Hametner
Ursula Kopp
Umberto Pisano
Sabine Remmel
Michal Sedlacko

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