ESDNewsletter July 2012

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on "The Rio+20 Conference 2012: Objectives, processes and outcomes"

Being published soon after the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 (Rio+20) that took place on 20-22 June 2012, this ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a comprehensive overview of the road to the Rio+20 and what the outcomes the conference produced. The introductory chapter of this QR provides an overview about the concept of global sustainable development (SD) governance and its links with the UN system as well as the large array of actors that are involved in it. In the second chapter, a brief history of the various UN environmental and SD mega-conferences is portrayed. This will provide an extensive background and will help to understand the background for the Rio+20 Conference. The third chapter summarizes what happened in the negotiations prior to Rio+20 and how the conference came into form, its objectives and the main two themes taken into consideration: firstly, a green economy in the context of SD and poverty eradication; and, secondly, the institutional framework for SD. These two themes are substantially analysed and described. In addition, a thorough examination of the development process of an international set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is included in this chapter. Additionally, a particular focus has been devoted to the European Union and its position toward SD, especially in the context of the Rio+20 Conference. The report then offers a dedicated and meticulous analysis of the text of the final Rio+20 outcome document, entitled “The future we want”, where a number of interesting reflections are suggested. Additionally, an unusual analysis of the outcome document is proposed; known as word-cloud analysis, the outcome document of Rio+20 is compared with the  ‘Zero draft’ document (January 2012), the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (2002) and of the ‘Rio declaration’ (1992). Finally, some conclusions and reflections are suggested at the end of the report where we propose an interesting way to understand, assess and judge the conference and its outcomes.

>> 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" - documentation online

The ESDN Conference 2012 took place in Copenhagen, Denmark on 28-29 June 2012 and was organized by the ESDN in cooperation with the Danish EU Presidency. Taking place shortly after the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the ESDN Conference 2012 provided an excellent platform to reflect on the results of Rio+20 and to discuss their implications for SD policy and governance for the different political levels and the different actors.

The ESDN Conference 2012 hosted 63 participants from 21countries. We were grateful to welcome very high-level keynote speakers (Ida Auken, Danish Minister of the Environment; Chris Vanden Bilcke, UNEP; Inge Paulini, German Advisory Council on Global Change; Richard Adams, EESC; Alan AtKission, AtKisson Group; William M. Lafferty, ProSus Perspectives; Stephan Schulmeister, Austrian Institute of Economic Research). The conference participants came from national government ministries, the incoming Cyprus EU Presidency, Eurostat, the EESC, national environment agencies, research and the CSO sector.  During the 1.5 conference days, the participants did not only hear cutting edge presentations, but also worked collectively on recommendations for the different political levels and actors and developed a Communique from the ESDN Conference 2012 which can be downloaded here.

A documentation of the conference, including videos, 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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Save-the-date! Next ESDN Workshop, "Financial Markets, Institutions and Policies in the Context of Sustainable Development Policy - Dimensions, Issues and Actors of an Emerging Sustainable Development Strategy Arena", 22-23 November 2012, Brussels

The 8th ESDN Workshop will take place in Brussels on 22-23 November 2012. The ESDN will cooperate with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the SD Observatory of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) to reflect upon the relationship between sustainable development and the financial markets. More information on the workshop topic and the agenda will be distributed soon.

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Rio+20 side event and policy brief National Sustainable Development Strategies - What Future Role with Respect to Green Economy?

On 14 July 2012 in RioCentro, Rio de Janeiro, the Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Government of Switzerland and the ESDN held an UNCSD side event titled National Sustainable Development Strategies – What Future Role with Respect to Green Economy? The event aimed to contribute to the debate on the relationships between sustainable development (SD) and green economy, and between the measurement and monitoring systems in the form of indicator sets resulting from these two concepts, and to give an orientation for actors on the national and local levels regarding the implementation of the Rio+20 outcomes on the ground. The event was very successful in terms of participation; it attracted more than 50 participants. The event included presentations on national experience by representatives of governments of Liechtenstein (Georg Sparber), Switzerland (Daniel Wachter), Germany (Jörg Mayer-Ries), Finland (Annika Lindblom) and United Arab Emirates (Thani Al-Zayoudi), and achieved a very engaged and informative discussion moderated by a representative of the ESDN Office (Michal Sedlacko).

In support of the side event, under the guidance of the ESDN Steering Group the ESDN Office has prepared a policy brief mapping these issues. A draft version has been placed on the ESDN website prior to UNCSD. The updated version of the text has now been placed on the ESDN website and can be downloaded here. This version has been complemented by views, experiences and recommendations from the side event as well as by the Rio+20 outcomes.

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

Finland: Proposal for renewed Sustainable Consumption and Production Action Program

In Finland, a renewed Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Action Program has been proposed. The new program, entitled “Less more cleverly”, follows the previous program of 2005. The proposed program of 2012 includes policy proposals and 8 concrete pilots to test sustainable solutions in housing, mobility, nourishment/eating, and public consumption. The next steps in the Action Program development are circulation for comments, launching pilots, and a political debate. We’ll keep you updated when the Action Program is finalised and published.

Montenegro: Fourth Annual Report on the implementation of the NSDS, Annual Report on the Implementation of the Communicational Strategy for SD, and conference on SD and Green Economy

In June 2012, the Government of Montenegro adopted the Fourth Annual Report on the Implementation of the National Sustainable Development Strategy (will be available online soon), which was prepared based on the new Action Plan of the Strategy adopted for the period 2011-2012. Prior to their submission to the Government for adoption, all three documents were deliberated and positively commented by the National Council for Sustainable Development on its sessions in December 2011 and June 2012. The Government of Montenegro also adopted the First Annual Report on the Implementation of the Communicational Strategy for Sustainable Development (CSSD) for the period of January - December 2011 (available only in Montenegrin language: And in preparation to the Rio+20 Conference, on 24 April 2012, the National Council for Sustainable Development, a multi-stakeholder advisory body chaired by the Prime Minister, together with the UNDP Office in Montenegro, organized a two day conference on SD and Green Economy. The Conference gathered more than 100 high ranking government officials, members of the business community, NGOs, academia and independent experts. It was also the first tweeted conference in Montenegro, which opened the process of high level policy dialogue to the wider audience.

Netherlands: Report, “Roads from Rio+20: pathways to achieve global sustainability goals by 2050”, published

The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) in May 2012 published the report, entitled “Roads from Rio+20: pathways to achieve global sustainability goals by 2050”. The report analyses how combinations of technological measures and changes in consumption patterns could contribute to achieving a set of sustainability objectives, taking into account the inter-linkages between them. The report concludes that the potential exists for achieving all of the objectives. Please download the report from the PBL website.

Switzerland: Sustainable Development Report 2012

Shortly before the Rio+20 Conference, the Swiss Sustainable Development Report 2012 was published. This statistical sustainability report takes stock in the year of Rio+20 on the basis of the Swiss system of indicators, the monitoring of sustainable development MONET. The goal is to provide an overview of sustainable development in Switzerland over the past 20 years and to present the monitoring system developed in Switzerland to measure sustainable development as an example of “good practice”. The report can be downloaded in PDF format from the website of the Swiss Federal for Spatial Planning (ARE) in English, German, French and Italian

Wales, UK: New plans for a sustainable Wales and Welsh Government consultation on proposals for a sustainable development bill

In a recent statement, the Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths, announced new plans aimed at ensuring public services deliver long-term and sustainable benefits for the people of Wales. The Welsh Government is seeking views on proposals for a Sustainable Development Bill which would place a legal requirement on organisations delivering public services in Wales to ensure their decision-making is informed by SD principles. The proposals would also require organisations to report annually on how they have complied with that duty. In this context, another proposal is the establishment of an independent Welsh body to provide advice and guidance on SD. The new body could also challenge public service deliverers on how they are meeting their duty. The consultation on proposals for a Sustainable Development Bill can be found at the Welsh Government website. The consultation process is open until 18 July 2012.

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RESPONDER project: 2nd EU Dialogue on "Linking Policy and Science for Greening the Economy" will be held on 29-30 October 2012 in Brussels

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.

Following a first round of RESPONDER multinational knowledge brokerage events held across Europe, the 2nd EU Dialogue on Sustainable Consumption and Economic Growth, entitled "Linking Policy and Science for Greening the Economy", will be held on 29-30 October 2012 in Brussels.

The Green Economy is put forward as a decision-making framework that improves human wellbeing while at the same time reducing environmental risks and scarcities. It is argued that this new development path centered on new forms of qualitative growth is needed because risks are rising as growth continues to erode the environment and social capital. The Rio+20 preparations for the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication have framed and considered the need for a holistic approach and structural adjustments of economies. A comprehensive policy mix and links between key policy fields is suggested in order to face multiple interrelated crises. State interventions are perceived as necessary to jump-start and guide the greening of the economy.

However, there are major barriers and systemic gaps in the implementation of a green economy, especially as Europe currently faces difficult times: low growth projections for the coming years, high unemployment rates across Europe, financial instability and rising budget deficits, and scarce empirical evidence of absolute decoupling between economic growth and resource use. Not least due to these circumstances, the growth-skeptical debate currently experiences a revival, including an increasing number of degrowth advocates who argue for a multi-dimensional reduction of overall consumption and production as the only path towards social justice, ecological sustainability and well-being.

Against this background, the 2nd European Dialogue will bring together policy makers and researchers to explore and discuss

The 2nd EU Dialogue aims to offer an arena for debate about the Green Economy from a systemic perspective. In case you would like to stay informed about the RESPONDER project and the 2nd EU Dialogue, please express your interest at

For further information about the RESPONDER project and its knowledge brokerage activities please visit


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: Workshop series finished; two research agendas (on sustainable food consumption and sustainable mobility) online

The workshop series in CORPUS on the three sustainable consumption domains of food, mobility, and housing are finished. The last workshop on sustainable mobility took place in Helsinki on 7-8 June 2012. The 9 “research meets policy” workshops had, in total, 300 participants from 31 countries. A full documentation about all workshops and their results can be found on the CORPUS homepage

Please also visit the CORPUS homepage for an outstanding repository of information on sustainable production and consumption (SCP) issues. At the moment, more than 500 documents can be downloaded, including policy documents, research reports, academic articles, etc.

Very important outcomes of the CORPUS project are the research agendas on the three policy domains which are jointly developed by policy-makers, researchers and CSO representatives from all over Europe. Two research agendas are available to down, the Research Agenda on Sustainable Food Consumption and the Research Agenda on Sustainable Mobility. Both include important topics for further research and missing evidence in their respective themes. The Research Agenda on Sustainable Housing is currently being finalised and will be available soon.

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Other news:

Eurostat: Figures for the Future - 20 years of sustainable development in Europe? A citizens' guide for the Rio+20 summit

In connection with the Rio+20 summit, Eurostat on 15 June 2012 released the publication "Figures for the Future – 20 years of sustainable development in Europe? A guide for citizens". The publication presents the EU Sustainable Development Indicators (SDIs) in a new and easy-to-understand style. Statistics and SD are often seen as abstract concepts. The aim of this publication is to make them accessible and understandable for all citizens, not only for specialists, using a novel style of presenting data through an interesting story. It follows a fictional 17 year old student, Anne, as she makes a presentation on sustainable development to a group of students from all around the world.

Throughout the presentation (can be downloaded from the Eurostat website and is available in the 23 official EU languages) Anne discusses issues important to citizens' everyday life, such as: How has our climate really changed? How is this related to energy use and transport? What does it mean to be poor in Europe? Are there as many birds around as before? Has life improved for Europeans over the past 20 years? These are the type of questions tackled in the publication, which contains chapters on GDP growth and employment, energy, transport, regional disparities, poverty and social exclusion, waste, pushing back nature, climate change, globalisation, EU international commitments, ageing society and green growth.

The publication is complemented by four videos about green growth, green economy and poverty. They aim to make some of the concepts around the EU SDIs more tangible. The videos are interlinked with the publication through the character of the journalist Marta. Following Marta's work as a journalist, viewers can become informed about subjects such as what green growth could mean for the EU's sustainable development, how sustainably Europeans consume and produce electricity, whether poverty is only a question of income, how Europeans feel about poverty in different cities and how evenly the national income is distributed in the EU.

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We wish you a relaxing summer time!

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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