ESDNewsletter April 2012

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report: “Renewing the commitment for SD: Stock-taking of international and European SD objectives and goals pre-Rio+20”

In the light of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 (Rio+20), this ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a comprehensive overview on precedent international and European policy documents that include objectives on how to achieve sustainable development. As part of the preparation for Rio+20, the development of a global set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could assist in focusing the broad international sustainable development agenda at a practical level. Thus, in answering the recent development on SDGs, the QR investigates trends on identified SDGs among international and European SD policy documents and their link to two recent Rio+20 proposals for SDG sets. With regard to SDGs, among international SD declarations, such as the Stockholm 1972, Rio de Janeiro 1992 and Johannesburg 2002 declaration, an important evolution took place: the dominance of SDGs related to fundamental human rights, economic development and socio-economic development increased over time 'at the expense' of SDGs related to environmental issues. Furthermore, SDGs originating from Rio+20 proposals are well addressed by similar or identical counterparts in the most important international policy documents over the last 40 years. The acceptance and agreement on these SDGs as a common ground of discussion could act as a catalyst for further negotiations on time-bound and measurable targets. This step will be a critical challenge as well as opportunity to further spur effective implementation of a sustainable development agenda.

The introductory chapter of this QR gives an overview about the historical development, the concepts and models related to sustainable development. In the second chapter, the relevance of SDGs as well as their importance in the process of political agenda setting is discussed. The third section summarizes international SD declarations with regard to 1) the context of their development; 2) the actors and institutions involved in the process of delivering the document; 3) the political commitment attributed towards the identified SDGs; and 4) associated frameworks for implementation. In this regard, a comprehensive comparative analysis is conducted in order to reveal the evolution of already existing SDGs and SDGs developed through recent Rio+20 proposal. Some conclusions and highlights of the analysis are presented at the end of the report.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

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ESDN Conference 2012: “Rio+20 and its implications for Sustainable Development Policy at the EU and national level”

The ESDN Conference 2012 will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark on 28-29 June 2012 and will be organized by the ESDN in cooperation with the Danish EU Presidency.

The ESDN Conference 2012 is entitled “Rio+20 and its implications for Sustainable Development Policy at the EU and national level”. Taking place shortly after the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the ESDN Conference 2012 will provide an excellent platform to reflect on the results of Rio+20 and to discuss their implications on content and SD governance for the different political levels. Moreover, the ESDN Steering Group will, together with the conference participants, develop recommendations for implementing the Rio+20 results in practice.

Among the confirmed keynoter speakers are Timo Makela (Director International Affairs, Life & Eco-innovation, DG Environment, European Commission); Chris Vanden Bilcke (Head of the UNEP Liaison Office to the EU); Lucia Reisch (Member of the German Council for Sustainable Development & Professor at Copenhagen Business School); William M. Lafferty (ProSus Perspectives, Norway); and Stephan Schulmeister (Austrian Institute of Economic Research).

The Draft Conference Program can be found at the ESDN homepage. For more information, please send an email to the ESDN Office at

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

Belgium: Federal Report on Sustainable Development 2011 recently published

In November 2011, the Federal Planning Bureau (FPB) published the sixth Federal Report on Sustainable Development, entitled “Twenty Years of Political Commitment to Sustainable Development?”. The report reviews and evaluates (1) Belgian trends for the past twenty years, based on sustainable development indicators, (2) the Belgian Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for 1997-2010, and (3) a series of policy measures selected from the Federal Plan for Sustainable Development 2000-2004 and from the Plan 2004-2008 (extended until the adoption of the next plan). The report also presents ten recommendations for renewing political commitment to sustainable development. The report is available in French and Dutch; the ‘Synthesis and recommendations’ of the report are also available in English and German – it can be downloaded here. A brief outline of the report is presented as well on the FPB web site and can be accessed here.

Croatia: Action Plan on Education for Sustainable Development adopted by the Croatian Government

In 2011, Croatia has developed the Action Plan on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) that was adopted by the Croatian Government on 8 April 2011. This Action Plan is the first of several Action Plans that are developed for the implementation of the Croatian Strategy for Sustainable Development. The development of the Action Plan was jointly undertaken by two national ministries, with the cooperation of all the stakeholders, including the civil society. A lot of emphasis has been put on the raising of competencies of educators and decision makers, e.g. training for civil servants on SD has been developed in 2010. This Action Plan is also available in English on the web-page of the Croatian Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection.

Finland: Indicator portal Findicator now also available in English

In early March 2012, the Findicator reform has been completed. The Findicator service was launched in October 2009. Over the past couple of years, the site has become very popular among those who need ready-made indicator graphs depicting social progress. Beside the graphs, Findicator provides users with the numbers behind the graphs, interpretation texts and links to further sources of information. Findicator has now a new look and the data is offered also in Swedish and English. Some indicator graphs are available first only in Finnish, but the aim is to have a fully trilingual service as soon as possible. In addition to the multilingual content, the Findicator service has been renewed by linking it to social media. The information on indicators can be accessed at

Germany: NSDS Progress Report 2012 adopted by the German Government

On 15 February 2012, the German Government adopted the NSDS Progress Report 2012. With this report, the German NSDS of 2002 will be developed further for the third time (after the progress reports in 2004 and 2008). The relevance of sustainable development for the policy-making of the German Government is outlined in a comprehensive stocktaking. In the year of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, the Progress Report focuses on topics with an international perspective, e.g. sustainable economy; climate, energy and water policy. Furthermore, the Progress Report includes statements on important responsibilities in a variety of policy fields, specifically on fiscal sustainability. Also included in the Progress Report is the Indicator Report 2012. You can download the German NSDS Progress Report 2012 here. Currently, the report is only available in German, but it will be available in English from the end of April.

Switzerland: Sustainable Development Strategy 2012-2015 adopted by Swiss Federal Council

As part of its plan for the new legislative period, the Swiss Federal Council adopted in January 2012 the Sustainable Development Strategy 2012-2015. In this strategy, the government defines an action plan with specific measures aimed at rendering its policies more sustainable over the next four years. Furthermore, the strategy represents an important contribution on the part of Switzerland to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). More information on the strategy and the English version of the document can be downloaded here.

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RESPONDER project: Two forthcoming events on household savings and debts & green ICT, plus documentation of recent 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. It is closely linked to the ESDN: RIMAS, that manages the ESDN Office, is coordinating the project; and two ESDN Steering Group countries are consortium partners (German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development). The project brings together policy-makers and researchers for an extensive exchange of knowledge.

We want to inform you about the next two knowledge brokerage events in RESPONDER:

The Role of Household Savings and Debts in a Sustainable Economy, May 24-25, 2012, The Hub Westminster, London UK. The purpose of this RESPONDER event is to develop shared learning and discussion about the role that household finances, and the balance between debt, savings and consumption, plays in the wider economy and how policy shapes this. This thinking will help develop a deeper understanding of the impact of different uses of consumer credit and saving behaviours on the development of a sustainable economy capable of operating within ecological limits. In the course of this event, participatory system mapping, an innovative moderation method that improves the mutual understanding of different communities, e.g. researchers and policy makers, pro-growth and beyond growth experts, will be applied. If you are interested in participating at this knowledge brokerage event, you can register for the event through Eventbrite following this link or for any questions you may have, please send an email to

Green ICT for Growth and Sustainability?, May 30-June 1, 2012, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. The RESPONDER event on “Green ICT for Growth and Sustainability?” focuses on potentials and challenges within the ICT domain with regards to their contribution to Green Growth and Sustainable Consumption. In particular, the aim is to stimulate discussions on the issues of network standby consumption, energy labeling, and smart metering, amongst others. In the course of this event we will apply participatory system mapping, an innovative moderation method that improves the mutual understanding of different communities, e.g. researchers and policy makers, pro-growth and beyond growth experts. If you are interested in participating at this RESPONDER event, the registration form as well as other relevant information about the registration procedure, the event and the RESPONDER project can be found here.

The documentation of the previous RESPONDER events, including presentations, pictures, videos from keynote presentations and takes from the plenary debates, can be accessed under Get comprehensive insights and watch the presentations as if you would have been there:

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CORPUS project: Final workshops on sustainable mobility and sustainable housing

The third and final CORPUS workshops on sustainable mobility and sustainable housing are taking place in April and June 2012, respectively. The final workshop on sustainable mobility takes 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.

The final workshop on sustainable housing will take place in Helsinki on 7-8 June 2012. By bringing together policy-makers and researchers from all over Europe, it aims to share knowledge on future visions of sustainable housing and their role in policy planning. More information about this event can also be found at the CORPUS website.

The results of the previous workshops on sustainable food consumption, sustainable mobility and sustainable housing can all be downloaded from the respective sections 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:

United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), 20-22 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro

The preparations and negotiations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) are in full swing. At this most important international SD conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want. More information, latest news, background reading material, and coverage of the two main conference themes (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication, and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development, can be found at the UNCSD homepage.

EEAC: Comments on the UNCSD “Zero Draft: The Future We Want” by the Working Group Sustainable Development

The Working Group Sustainable Development of the EEAC (European Environmental and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils) has published, in February 2012, comments on the UNCSD (Rio+20) “Zero Draft: The Future We Want”. You can download the document from the EEAC homepage.

EESC: Conference on the “Opportunities of Sustainable Development and the Green Economy”, 2 May 2012, Brussels

The EESC (European Economic and Social Committee) organises a conference, entitled “Think Green! The Opportunities of Sustainable Development and of the Green Economy” in Brussels on 2 May 2012. Within the general context of the forthcoming Rio+20 UN Conference on SD in June 2012, the objective of the EESC Various Interests Group conference is twofold: Firstly, to provide a historical overview of the debate on sustainable development, to analyse current challenges, future opportunities and possible solutions. Secondly, to exchange views on best practices among existing civil society projects promoting the green economy in a number of different EU Member States. More information on the conference can be found at the EESC homepage.

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We wish you a blossoming spring!

The ESDN Office Team at the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability

André Martinuzzi
Gerald Berger
Andreas Endl
Markus Hametner
Umberto Pisano
Sabine Remmel
Michal Sedlacko

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