ESDNewsletter July 2013

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on “National Sustainable Development Strategies in Europe 2013 – Taking stock and exploring new developments”

This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) is based on up-to-date information from the ESDN Country Profiles (updates from May/June 2013) and continues the NSDS stock-taking that has begun with the ESDN Quarterly Report September 2010. It also includes and reflects on the work and debates at the ESDN Conference 2013 on the same topic. The intention behind this QR is to provide an analysis of the situation of National Sustainable Strategies (NSDSs) in Europe. Therefore, we tried to investigate past achievements, explore new developments, identify future challenges, but we also take into consideration the discussions and insights with delegates during the ESDN Conference 2013.

As first chapter, a brief introduction is provided with a short overview of the objectives of the report and a few details on the ESDN Conference 2013. The second chapter then introduces the concept of National SD Strategies and gives an extensive background on the notions behind them, especially by exploring what NSDSs represent and their characteristics, by describing their historical development and their relationship with the new framework of Rio+20, and by providing a European perspective and the new context of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The third chapter describes in detail the stock-tacking analysis of European NSDSs. In particular, it investigates the status quo and recent developments in the following aspects of the NSDS processes: 1) Basic information about SD strategies; 2) Mechanisms of vertical integration; 3) Mechanisms of horizontal integration; 4) Evaluation and review; 5) Indicators and monitoring; and, 6) Participation. The information collected for individual countries is based on the information provided in the respective country profiles on the ESDN homepage. In addition, the 2010 September ESDN Quarterly Report - compiled for a similar stock-tacking exercise concerning National Sustainable Development Strategies in Europe in 2010 – has been also used as main reference for this new analysis, including the interviews with national SD coordinators that have been undertaken for the Quarterly Report in the summer 2010. Finally, the fourth chapter presents the main results and reflections from the ESDN Conference 2013 for further discussion.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

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ESDN Conference 2013, “Vienna+10: National Sustainable Development Strategies in Europe – Taking stock, new developments and future challenges“, Vienna/Austria, 13-14 June 2013 – documentation online

The ESDN Conference 2013 took place in Vienna, Austria on 13-14 June 2013. The conference was organized by the ESDN in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. In total, 55 participants from 20 countries (19 European countries and New Zealand) attended the conference.

The ESDN Conference 2013 was entitled “Vienna +10: National Sustainable Development Strategies in Europe – Taking stock, new developments and future challenges”. Ten years after the first ESDN Conference held in Vienna, in 2003, which provided important inputs on SD strategies in Europe, we revisited NSDSs as one of the core themes of the ESDN. The objectives of the ESDN Conference 2013 were to take stock of NSDSs processes and objectives, investigate past achievements, explore new developments, and identify future challenges.

A full documentation of the conference – incl. the conference proceedings, the final agenda, the discussion paper, the participant list, all PPTs of keynote presentations, and a photo documentation – can be found at the ESDN homepage.

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

Austria: New indicator report on monitoring SD in Austria and constitutional law on sustainability

The new indicator report, “MONE 2013”, that includes the monitoring of SD in Austria, has recently been finalised and is now available online (in German only at the moment; soon in English as well). The MONE indicator reports are published every second year since 2007. Like with previous versions, the new report includes summaries on trends that are based on individual indicators. The presentation of some regional indicators also allows for an assessment of SD on the regional level. The selected indicator set is based on a model which not only allows tracking developments in the area of SD. The indicators also allow predications on the prosperity, quality of life, and environmental situation in Austria as well as the well-being of the Austrian population. Individual indicators can be found at at   

On June 13, 2013, the Austrian Parliament adopted a constitutional law on sustainability. Para 1 of the law says: “The Republic of Austria (the federal , regional and municipal level) commits itself to the principle of sustainability in the use of natural resources in order to enable the highest quality of life for future generations.” Here is a link to the documentation of the Parliamentary Session on the new law (in German).

Czech Republic: Report on the strategic framework for SD

The colleagues in the Czech Republic are currently working on the “Report on the Czech Republic’s Strategic Framework for SD”. Publication of the report is expected in November 2013. The Strategic Framework for SD was adopted by the Czech Government in 2010. Please find more information on the Czech Republic’s NSDS process in their country profile on the ESDN homepage.

Finland: Revision of NSDS and new concept ‘Society’s Commitment to Sustainability’

Finland’s NSDS is currently being revised. Along with the revision of the strategy, the national concept ‘Society’s Commitment to Sustainability’ will be launched. Through this commitment, the government and the administration, in collaboration with various societal actors, pledge to promote sustainable development in all their work and operations. The proposal for ‘Society's Commitment to Sustainability’ is prepared by a strategy group and was finalized at the end of June 2013. There will be eight targets, a common vision and principles, and a time scale is to 2050. The Commitment also includes indicators which will be checked by a national indicator network until September 2013. The Society’s Commitment proposal will be presented in September 2013 at the FNCSD which will then make the final changes and approve the Commitment. The Commitment will also comprise process plans to every political level and to stakeholder groups (e.g. government, municipalities, companies, NGOs, etc) which will be worked on over the summer. Moreover, a communication plan for the Commitment is also foreseen. The Secretary of the FNCSD will start collecting commitments as soon as the final Society’s Commitment to Sustainability has been finalized. A new website for the Society’s Commitment has been created as well at.

Hungary: New National Framework Strategy on Sustainable Development

In March 2013, the Hungarian Parliament adopted the new National Framework Strategy on Sustainable Development in Hungary for the period 2012-24. This document functions as a long term concept in the system of public policy decision preparation and decision making. It draws up a framework with goals and priorities, supporting decision making, enhancing the creation of a goal-asset-deadline-financial resources system within public policy strategies or plans aimed at underpinning the transition towards sustainability. The Framework Strategy intends to promote a common national understanding of sustainability, which is understood as not only a political and governance issue, but each individual, family, enterprise, civil organization should live by such values, make such daily decisions and take such initiatives that ensure the achievement of sustainable society. The English version of the NSDS document can be found in the Hungarian country profile on the ESDN homepage.

Wales, UK: SD as central organising principle of the Welsh Government

The Welsh Government is currently planning to legislate that sustainable development will be the central organizing principle of the Welsh Government and devolved public bodies in Wales. It will also create a statutory independent Sustainable Development Body. A public consultation on the Sustainable Development White Paper, “A Sustainable Wales – Better Choices for a Better Future”, ended in March 2013.


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RESPONDER project: 3rd EU Dialogue on Sustainable Consumption and Economic Growth, 10-11 October 2013, Brussels

On 10-11 October 2013, the 3rd EU Dialogue, “Linking Policy and Science for Sustainable Innovation”, of the RESPPONDER project, supported by the European Commission, will take place in Brussels. A selected group of policy makers and researchers from across Europe will come together to discuss areas of contention between sustainable consumption and economic growth from the perspective of innovation. The overall aim is to exchange knowledge on how to deal with these contentions and arrive at a tangible impetus for effective policy development, while also pointing to areas that still require research. In particular, the debate will focus around three themes: (1) Technological Innovations and Sustainability; (2) Innovation in the Context of Growth & De-Growth; (3) Social Innovation and Sustainable Consumption/ Production. Please find a briefing note for this event on the following website:

Registration will be open until 30 July 2013Registration is free of charge. Please note that the number of participants is limited. For any further questions about the event, please write an email to

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Other news

EEAC Annual Conference, 18th October 2013, Bangor University, Wales UK: “Managing Ecosystems for people, environment and economy”

The EEAC’s annual conference of 2013 will take place on 18 October 2013 at Bangor University in Wales, UK and is entitled “Managing Ecosystems for People, Nature and Economy”. This conference will provide a forum for leading experts to highlight the latest policy developments and research initiatives in ecosystems management at the European, UK and Wales levels. The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Jacquie McGlade, former Executive Director of the European Environment Agency. The conference will gather together examples of best practice from across Europe, and it will showcase recent advances made in Wales, including the creation of the new single statutory environment body – “Natural Resources Wales” – which will manage natural resources in an integrated way according to the principles of the ecosystem approach. More information can be found at the EEAC website. If you would like to attend the EEAC Annual Conference in October 2013, please visit the website at: and use the links to complete the registration form.

FP7-funded EU Research project InContext publishes policy briefs on how to create favourable conditions for sustainable living

The InContext team initiated three local transition arenas and observed four bottom-up initiatives for alternative living in local communities across Europe. It combined action orientated interventions with conceptual thinking about sustainable behaviour. The insights gained on change towards sustainability have now been published. Ten key messages summarise lessons learnt in a nutshell. In addition, one policy brief sheds light on how the EU can support local transition processes. The policy brief “Out of the town hall” explores the new ways of engagement between local governments and bottom-up initiatives, including a presentation of the ’community arena’ process that we developed in InContext. A research brief focuses on the role of action research for sustainability transitions.

Report by the Office of Technology Assessment in Germany on “Sustainability and Parliaments: Taking Stock and Perspectives Rio+20”

The Office of Technology Assessment (TAB) at the German Parliament recently published a report on “Sustainability and Parliaments: Taking Stock and Perspectives Rio+20”. The report provides an overview of the role of parliaments in sustainable development policy-making in Germany and other countries. Currently, the report in only available in German from the TAB website.  

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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
Michal Sedlacko

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