ESDNewsletter January 2013

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on "The Financial Sector and Sustainable Development: Logics, principles and actors"

This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) offers insight into the relationships, linkages, and differences between the financial sector and sustainable development. Although we recognise the vastness of the task, which is mainly caused by the complexity of the financial sector, we try to provide an explanatory journey and a fertile environment for further reflections and discussions, especially where linkages and differences with sustainable development are portrayed. Despite this complexity, this QR tries to communicate the main financial notions in a language that is as simple as possible, with the intention of avoiding an overload of technicalities. The QR does not aim to be exhaustive, but should uncover those links that are particularly relevant for sustainable development and SD governance. The report is based on the Discussion Paper of the 8th ESDN Workshop, which it expands in all chapters that are also informed by the debates at the workshop and additional desk research.

The QR is structured into four main sections: an introduction, two main chapters, and a conclusive section. At the end, a reference list and two annexes are also provided. The brief introduction is a short overview, outlining the essential points that are touched upon throughout the Quarterly Report. In the first chapter, the objective is to describe the main features of the financial sector, its logic, its actors, and its main institutions, also reflecting upon its linkages with the real economy. The second chapter then introduces the concept of sustainable development and describes the so-called sustainable development principles that help to operationalize such a concept. The main differences with the financial sector are, therefore, analysed together with possible ways of intervention in order to close the gaps between them. Special attention is then attributed to the potentials to enable sustainable development financing. Finally, some conclusions are drawn at the end of the report where we also propose reflections and points for discussion. In the course of writing this report, we developed a Framework for Sustainable Development and the financial sector where we defined six SD principles and compared them with the logic of the financial sector. In Annex I, we provide a Glossary with the most important terms and concepts around the financial sector that should help readers with short and precise explanations. Two interviews with Professor Stefania Rossi (University of Cagliari, Italy) and Alexander G. Welzl (senior researcher at Economica, Austria) about recent developments in the financial sector and links to sustainable development can be found at the end of the report in Annex II and III.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

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Next ESDN Workshop: 9th ESDN Workshop, "The Future of the EU SDS - Expectations and Possible Contributions from the ESDN", 21-22 February 2013, Brussels

The 9th ESDN Workshop will take place in Brussels on 21-22 February 2013. The conclusions of the Environmental Council meeting on 25 October 2012 include the clear intention to operationalize and implement the commitments included in the Rio+20 outcome document in the EU and its Member States “in particular through the European Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS), which therefore should be reviewed as soon as possible, at the latest in 2014” (para 3). Therefore, it is seen as important by the ESDN to formulate expectations for the future of the EU SDS and how the SD community could possibly contribute to it.

The main objectives of the workshop are: (a) to reflect upon the Rio+20 outcomes document and which of its objectives and targets are particularly important to be addressed in the EU; (b) on the basis of this, which topics should be addressed in the forthcoming EU SDS review and how could a future governance structure for the EU SDS look like; and (c) to identify a potential role and services the ESDN could fulfil for the EU SDS review and in the post-review EU SDS process.

For more information and registration, please contact the ESDN Office at or go the ESDN homepage.

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Full documentation now online: 8th ESDN Workshop, "Financial Markets, Institutions and Policies in the Context of Sustainable Development - Dimensions, Issues and Actors of an Emerging Arena", 22-23 November 2012, Brussels

The 8th ESDN Workshop, entitled “Financial Markets, Institutions and Policies in the Context of Sustainable Development – Dimensions, Issues and Actors of an Emerging Arena”, took place in Brussels on 22-23 November 2012 and was hosted by the ESDN in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the SD Observatory of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), and the Vita Foundation Germany. In total, 53 participants from 14 European countries and Japan attended the workshop. A full workshop documentation, including the background paper, the workshop report, the PowerPoint slides and videos of the presentations, a photo documentation, and the participant list, is now online at the ESDN homepage.

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Two new ESDN Case Studies online

In preparation to the 8th ESDN Workshop (see above), the ESDN Office prepared two new ESDN Case Studies: ESDN Case Study No. 11 provides an overview of sustainable investment options for a contribution to a more sustainable financial sector. And ESDN Case Study No. 12 informs about barriers and opportunities for taking a long-term perspective in the financial market. Both can be downloaded at the ESDN homepage.

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

Hungary: New National SD Framework Strategy and information on SD indicators

Based on a parliament decree, the National Council on Sustainable Development prepared a new National Sustainable Development Framework Strategy during 2011 and 2012. The document was prepared involving a wide public consultation process, adopted by the Council in May 2012 and was tabled to the Parliament in November 2012. The SD Framework Strategy is available – currently only in Hungarian – on the website of the Council. The national Sustainability Basic Indicator System (SBIS) is based on two pillars: (i) implementation of the EU sustainability indicator system on a strong and detailed methodological basis, elaborated together with Eurostat; and (ii) headline indicators to communicate information on SD to the wider public. Sustainable development indicators are published biannually by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office. The latest publication, “Sustainable development indicators in Hungary” was published in April 2011.

Wales: White Paper for the Sustainable Development Bill has been issued

In December 2012, a consultation process was launched on the White Paper, “A Sustainable Wales: Better choices for a better future”. Earlier in 2012, the Welsh Government held a consultation on the initial proposals for the Sustainable Development Bill. The Government has used the responses to help them develop the proposals set out in the above mentioned White Paper. Until 4 March 2013, the Welsh Government now wants the raise the following questions on topics included in the White Paper: (i) the proposals for a new duty to embed sustainable development as the central organising principle of selected organisations in Wales; (ii) the proposals for an independent sustainable development body; (iii) the proposed phasing and implementation of the duty, including the timing for the creation of the independent sustainable development body; and (iv) the proposals to improve the accountability framework for sustainable development in Wales. More information can be found on the homepage of the Welsh Government.

Major update of Country Profiles section on the ESDN homepage

The Country Profiles on the ESDN homepage offer the best repository of information on NSDS processes in Europe (from basic information, to vertical and horizontal policy integration, participation, evaluation, indicators, etc.) and are the most prominent section on the ESDN homepage (more than 7,000 visitors and about 14,000 page views since the start of the homepage in mid-2006). As NSDS processes change and develop over time, we regularly bring all country profiles up-to-date. In the last few months, we asked our member countries to update their county profiles, and as of today, 15 country profiles have been updated (Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom) and 2 countries confirmed that their profiles are up-to-date (Poland and Sweden). The remaining country profiles will be updated in the coming months.

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RESPONDER project: Knowledge Brokerage events on "Green ICT for Sustainable Consumption?" and "Towards Sustainable Mobility in European Cities"

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.

Outcomes of the 2nd multinational knowledge brokerage event on "Green ICT for Sustainable Consumption?" (17-18 January 2013, Vienna)

Modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can have a great influence on shaping a more sustainable world. The mega-trends Cloud Computing and Smart Systems in the areas of energy, transport and housing, have the potential to substantially reduce environmental impacts and, thus, green Europe’s future. The time to adjust the future development of these technologies is now, say Europe’s leading ICT-specialists.

On 17-18 January 2013 , more than 50 professionals from 20 countries across Europe, the US and Australia met at the Palais Harrach in Vienna (Austria) to discuss how ICT can increase energy and resource efficiency and make consumption more sustainable. In an ever faster digitizing world, the positive potentials of ICTs are great, say the experts. Yet, using the chances involves substantial challenges for policy makers and Europe’s regulatory institutions.

For further details please have a look at the press release and the event documentation available on the RESPONDER website.

"Towards Sustainable Mobility in European Cities" - March 21-22, 2013 in Bratislava, Slovak Republic

We are happy to cordially invite you to participate at the 2nd RESPONDER Multinational Knowledge Brokerage Event on sustainable mobility, entitled "Towards Sustainable Mobility in European Cities - Insights and Issues for Policy Makers and Researchers". The event will be held on March 21-22, 2013 in Bratislava/Slovak Republic and will draw together a selected group of researchers, policy-makers, activists and business representatives from the EU and neighbouring countries to discuss trends in urban mobility, policies and practices to strengthen sustainable urban mobility, visions of low-carbon, secure and competitive mobility systems in cities, and sustainable mobility approaches that reduce spatial segregation, urban sprawl and promote social inclusion.

Questions we plan to explore include:

Registration will be open until 10 February 2013! For further details on the event and for registering online, please visit the RESPONDER website.

Upcoming RESPONDER events

Between April and June 2013 the following knowledge brokerage events will be held:

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CORPUS project finalised: Documents and background information online

CORPUS, a research project funded by FP7 of the European Commission, that brokers knowledge between science and policy in the area of sustainable consumption policies (focussing on food, mobility, housing) was finalised in mid-January 2013. CORPUS was built on (a) knowledge exchange events with policy-makers and researchers (in total, more than 80 policy-makers and 130 researchers from over Europe attended the 9 events), and (b) the CORPUS website with a large repository of knowledge on sustainable food, mobility and housing as well as a large network of experts to which all registered users have access to. The CORPUS website will be continuously updated also in the future, so please check back regularly and sign up for the newsletter. All the outcomes of the project can be downloaded from the CORPUS homepage. Very important outcomes of the CORPUS project are the three research agendas on sustainable food consumption, sustainable mobility and sustainable housing. All include important topics for further research and missing evidence in their respective themes.

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Other news:

UN Office for Sustainable Development report on the state of “Knowledge, Capacity Building, and Networks for Sustainable Development”

In preparation to an expert meeting of the UN Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) in March 2013, a report was published on “Knowledge, Capacity Building, and Networks for Sustainable Development” and can be downloaded from the UNOSD homepage. The report was based on a review of over 200 published sources, organizations, training and capacity programs, SD networks (including the ESDN), and interviews with experts. The background and recommendations are specific to UNOSD and its core constituency, SD programs in national governments, especially developing countries. However, the core content is of interest to any sustainability professional.

Sustainable Society Index (SSI) audited by the Joint Research Centre

During 2012, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC) has audited the Sustainable Society Index (SSI). JRC assessed the SSI with respect to (a) the conceptual coherence of the structure of SSI; (b) the statistical coherence of the structure of SSI; and (c) the impact of key modeling assumptions on the SSI scores and ranks over 2006-2012. JRC also presented a number of recommendations for further improvement of the SSI. All JRC’s recommendations have been implemented in the new update of the SSI-2012. More information on the SSI and the JRC audit report can be found on the homepage of the Sustainable Society Foundation.

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We wish you all the best for 2013!

The ESDN Office Team at the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability

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

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