ESDNewsletter April 2015

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on “Social Innovation – An overview of the concept of social innovation in the context of European initiatives and practices”

Social Innovation is very high on the political agenda, not only as new way of addressing social issues often overlooked either by the private sector or the public sector, but also as a chance to respond to the multiple social, economic and environmental crises that are faced by societies all over the world. In Europe, austerity, budget cuts, unemployment, ageing, migration, and climate change are only a few of the many issues that can be cited as examples of the effects of such crises. Whereas the public sector is often having difficulties to address such challenging issues adequately, the business sector often does not find it profitable to address those issues. Therefore, civil society and individual citizens are often attempting to react and to seek new ways through ‘social innovation’ and, thus, new structures, hybrid organisations or a multitude of attempts across sectors are on the rise. Despite this strong involvement of civil society, and the fact that citizen engagement should be seen as a constant of social innovation policies and activities, social innovation can emerge from any sector.

In general, the link between social innovation and the sustainable development agenda and policies is very apparent, especially with regards to social and equity issues. In this Quarterly Report (QR), our intention is to understand and showcase the main initiatives and activities undertaken at the EU level, and present several examples that help to understand how social innovation works in practice.

This QR comprises four chapters: The first chapter defines the concept of social innovation, also focusing on the role of social entrepreneurship in the context of the social innovation discourse. The second chapter provides an outlook on the policy activities that are happening in the European Union. In the third chapter, we portray three practical experiences of social innovation that are able to explain of what social innovation is all about. The report concludes by summarising the main topics treated in the previous chapters so as to offer several considerations that can guide the reader in reflecting deeper on the topic.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

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12th ESDN Workshop, “Monitoring and reviewing sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Europe: current debates in EU Member States and on the European level”, Brussels, 16 June 2015

The next ESDN Workshop, entitled “Monitoring and reviewing sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Europe: current debates in EU Member States and on the European level”, will take place in Brussels on 16 June 2015, with an evening reception on 15 June 2015. The workshop is organized by the ESDN in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. The background of the workshop topic is related to current debates and activities on sustainable development:

More information on this ESDN Workshop will be provided soon, also on the ESDN homepage.

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13th ESDN Workshop, “Stocktaking and perspectives on environmental dialogue in Europe”, Paris, early fall 2015

The 13th ESDN Workshop will take place in early fall 2015 in Paris, back-to-back with an EEAC workshop. In recent years, the environmental dialogue between policy makers and stakeholders has gained important momentum in France with the annual “conférences environnementales” gathering all the stakeholders around the ecological transition towards sustainable development. The ESDN Workshop will take stock of European experiences in this matter and discuss possible evolutions on how to improve this dialogue. 

An EEAC workshop on the mobilization of civil society in tackling climate change will be organized the day after the ESDN workshop.

More information on these ESDN & EEAC workshops will be provided soon.

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ESDN Conference 2015 in Luxembourg on 8-9 October 2015 in cooperation with the incoming Luxembourg EU Presidency

The ESDN Conference 2015 will take place on 8-9 October 2015 in Luxembourg in cooperation with the incoming Luxembourg EU Presidency. Further information on the topic, venue and exact date will follow in the next few months here in the newsletter and on the ESDN homepage.

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European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW): 30 May - 5 June 2015

As announced in our last newsletter, the first European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) which will take place from 30 May - 5 June 2015. The ESDW is a European-wide initiative supported by the ESDN to stimulate and make visible activities, projects and events that promote sustainable development. The aim of the ESDW is to initiate a diverse spectrum of activities, projects and events from all stakeholders willing to promote sustainable development in all its different and interlinking aspects: social, environmental and economic. This, in turn, will be beneficial for raising awareness, exploring practical solutions, and encouraging individual behaviour change. To visualize how the sum of initiatives throughout Europe can have a greater impact, the organizers are invited to register their activities, projects or events on the ESDW website at from early March until 29 May 2015. The activities, projects and events registered should then take place during the week from 30 May - 5 June 2015.

At the time of writing, already 565 initiatives have been registered in 10 European countries. With the help of our official partners (EESC, Green Week, EEB, EEAC, ICLEI, Covenant of Mayors and CBSS) and our national focal points, the promotion of the ESDW in Europe is on its way. Examples of activities include:

Very successful national sustainable development action weeks already exist in France (, Germany (, and Austria ( The Environment Ministers of these three countries have jointly presented the initiative for an annual European-wide sustainable development week that acts as an umbrella for existing national weeks and motivates new initiatives, activities and events in EU Member States and other European countries at the Environment Council on the 28 October 2014, where it was welcomed by the Commission and several EU Member States. The ESDW is coordinated by the ESDN Office at the Institute for Managing Sustainability at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria.

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

France: New National Strategy of Ecological Transition towards Sustainable Development 2015-2020

On 4 February 2015, the French Council of Ministers adopted the new “National Strategy of Ecological Transition towards Sustainable Development” (SNTEDD) 2015-2020. Building on the momentum of the energy transition law for green growth, the SNTEDD 2015-2020 replaces the National Sustainable Development Strategy 2010-2013 by setting France on a new path to sustainable development. Organized in 9 cross-cutting goals instead of sectorial challenges, the SNTEDD 2015-2020 designs a 2020 vision, delivers tools to transform the economic and social model and aims to create ownership among all stakeholders with a new system of voluntary commitments. You can find the full document (in French and soon in English) and a 28-page summary on the webpage of the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.

Germany: 15th Annual Conference of the German Council for Sustainable Development

The German Council for Sustainable Development holds its 15th Annual Conference, “A new equation of globalization and national responsibility. Ideas and innovations in sustainability politics” on 3 June 2015 in the bcc Berlin Congress Center (Alexanderstraße 11, 10178 Berlin). Changed geo-political configurations; conflicts and the plundering of resources are changing the world and necessitate, among other things, a change in consumption patterns. Global sustainability and global climate protection are putting old thought patterns on globalization to the test where the short-term “everything is possible” philosophy has predominated until now.  This is why the conference will discuss current ideas and concrete policies during the 15th Annual Conference and ask ourselves with Germany now having assumed the presidency of the G7 how sustainability can be tangibly and effectively implemented. The programme offers various formats to take an active role in developing solutions in the course of the day. As a new element, we are introducing the opportunity for you to access a secured user area in the run-up to the Annual Conference where you can communicate with other participants and set up discussions during the conference. Detailed information of the event can be found here.

Montenegro: Session of the National Council for SD and Climate Change on various SD topics, incl. post-2015 development agenda

In late January 2015, the 3rd session in renewed structure of the National Council for Sustainable Development and Climate Change was held. This time around, the Council had a very demanding agenda that soughed to cover the following key issues: draft of the detailed spatial plan for the thermal power plant in Pljevlja; concept of the National Strategy for Climate Change until 2030; Draft of the National Strategy for the Integrated Coastal Zone Management of Montenegro; Draft of the National Strategy for Agricultural and Rural development 2014-2020, and amendments on the Decision establishing the National Council in order to further strengthen its capacity. In addition, the Council also discussed the importance and challenges of participating in the international negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. Special attention was given to the importance of the activities to be undertaken in order to ensure adequate presentation of the development priorities in the negotiations on financing sustainable development under the auspices of the United Nations. The next session of the Council will be organized in the beginning of May 2015.

Switzerland: Publication of the fifth edition of the brochure “Sustainable Development – A Brief Guide

The brochure, “Sustainable Development – A Brief Guide“, shows where Switzerland finds itself on the way to sustainable development. It is structured around four questions of fundamental importance for sustainable development: How well do we live? How well are resources distributed? What are we leaving behind for our children? How efficiently are we using our natural resources?

This brochure (available in English, French, German and Italian) provides some answers to those questions on the basis of seventeen key indicators taken from the MONET system. MONET is a joint activity of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE), the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

European Commission: Green Week 2015

The 2015 edition of Green Week, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy, will take place from 3-5 June 2015 at The Egg Conference Centre, Rue Bara, in Brussels. The theme will be nature and biodiversity. Nature is vital for our health and our wealth. We depend on it for the food, energy, raw materials, air and water that make life possible and drive the economy. We share this planet with an extraordinary natural diversity which is a source of inspiration, learning and recreation; part of our cultural heritage and contributing to our quality of life. Protecting nature and maintaining Europe's competitiveness must go hand-in-hand as nature and biodiversity policy can play a key role in creating jobs and stimulating investment. Green Week will look at these and other benefits we receive from nature, and the framework in place to protect it. Green Week offers a unique opportunity for debate and exchanges of experience and best practice. Over the past decade, the conference has established itself as an unmissable event for anyone involved with protecting the environment. The 2014 edition attracted around 3.100 participants from government, business and industry, non-governmental organisations, academia and the media. Check out the Green Week website for the full programme and speakers! Register on-line here: Participation is free of charge! Registration is also open for Exhibition stands and Satellite events.

European Commission: Smarter, greener, more inclusive? – Indicators to support the Europe 2020 strategy – 2015 edition

The 2015 edition of ‘Smarter, greener, more inclusive? — Indicators to support the Europe 2020 strategy' continues the series of Eurostat flagship publications providing statistical analyses related to important European Commission policy frameworks or important economic, social or environmental phenomena. It provides statistical support for the Europe 2020 strategy and backs up the monitoring of its five headline targets. The analysis in this publication is based on the Europe 2020 headline indicators chosen to monitor the strategy's targets. Other indicators focusing on subgroups of society or on related issues showing underlying trends help deepen the analysis and present a broader picture. The publication presents official statistics produced by the European Statistical System and disseminated by Eurostat. The updated 2015 edition covers the period from 2002 or 2008 up to the most recent year for which data are available (2012 or 2013). For more information, please visit the Eurostat website.

European Commission: Independent expert group on the ‘Follow-up to Rio+20, notably the Sustainable Development Goals' to provide advice on the role of science, research, technology and innovation

The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission launched on 1 March 2015 the work of an independent expert group on the ‘Follow-up to Rio+20, notably the Sustainable Development Goals' to provide advice on the role of science, research, technology and innovation for implementing the sustainability agenda agreed at Rio+20 and in particular the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the potential of research and innovation cooperation in this context. The Union's new funding programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, set a target of at least 60% of its budget to support sustainable development and of 35% for climate change. The Commission Communication, 'A Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015', of 5 February 2015 highlights the important role of science, technology and innovation for the implementation of the vision for the world beyond 2015 and the SDGs, in Europe and beyond. The work of the Group will also serve as input in view of the United Nations Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda and the future implementation of the SDGs. The Group will elaborate a reference framework that positions the EU research and innovation policy within the international sustainability agenda and the implementation of the SDGs in Europe and beyond. It will also formulate suggestions for a possible engagement in relevant follow up actions, including international initiatives and partnerships in the field of science, technology and innovation, in the short and mid-term. The European Commission will host the kick-off meeting of the Group in Brussels on Friday, 6 March 2015. The Chairperson of the Expert Group is Professor Enrico Giovannini from Italy.  Dr Ingeborg Niestroy from Germany will act as the rapporteur. The other members of the Expert Group are Dr Måns Nilsson from Sweden, Dr Françoise Roure from France and Mr Michael Spanos from Greece. The outcomes of the group will also feed from a research and innovation perspective the discussion on sustainability and international cooperation in the context of the European Year for Development.

Updates in ESDN country profiles

The ESDN country profiles provide the most up-to-date information on national SD strategy and policy processes in European countries. We regularly update them to make sure the information we provide there catches up with the developments in all of these countries. Recently, the country profiles of Austria, Belgium and Latvia have been updated with latest pieces information on NSDS processes (e.g. current NSDS document and link, horizontal and vertical integration, stakeholder participation, evaluation, etc.).

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Other news:

European Environment Agency published five-yearly assessment ‘The European environment – state and outlook 2015’ (SOER 2015)

Europe’s environment and climate policies have delivered substantial benefits, improving the environment and quality of life, while driving innovation, job creation and growth. Despite these gains, Europe still faces a range of persistent and growing environmental challenges. Addressing them will require fundamental changes in the systems of production and consumption that are the root cause of environmental problems. These are some of the key messages from the European Environment Agency’s five-yearly assessment ‘The European environment – state and outlook 2015’ (SOER 2015), published today. SOER 2015 is an integrated assessment of Europe’s environment. It also includes assessments and data at global, regional and country levels, as well as cross-country comparisons. ‘The European environment – state and outlook 2015’ is made up of two reports and 87 online briefings. These comprise the ‘Synthesis’ report and the ‘Assessment of global megatrends’ report, complemented by 11 global megatrends briefings, 25 European briefings, nine cross-country comparison briefings, 39 country briefings (based on national state of environment reports), and three regional briefings.

Promoting Sustainable Development in Greece: The “Sustainable Greece 2020” initiative

Over the last few years, the financial crisis in Greece has had a tremendous impact not only on a variety of political and socio-economic issues but also on people’s daily life. In this context, a new economic model based on sustainable development is more than necessary in order to promote innovation, competitiveness and extroversion that can sustain growth and development according with a clean environment and a prosperous society without exclusions. The QualityNet Foundation, the Network of Responsible Organizations and Active Citizens, has launched, in partnership with 31 business associations and with the support of 48 Greek companies, the “Sustainable Greece 2020” initiative aiming to advance sustainable development in line with the basic guidelines and priorities established by the European Commission that provide for a balanced growth between economic development, social cohesion and environmental protection. The initiative brings together for the first time a wide range of participants from the business community, national authorities, the academic community and the wider civil society with the goal to promote sustainable development and to create practical tools and methodologies that would facilitate the effort of Greek organizations and companies to incorporate policies of sustainability and responsible business in their operations while strengthening social cohesion. Sustainable Greece 2020 is an ongoing project financed by private funds and supported by the European Commission (DG ENTR & DG MARKT), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the German Council for Sustainable Development and the EIRIS. It is organized under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Development & Competitiveness as well as the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change. For further information about Sustainable Greece 2020 initiative, please go to:

EU project NETGREEN holds workshop on proposed UN development goals and how they can be measured

The NETGREEN project is holding a workshop in Berlin on 8 May 2015 to discuss the implications of the proposed UN development goals and how they can be measured in different countries and to present their indicator website. In this workshop, participants will discover, a repository of Green Economy and sustainable development indicators. The interactive online tool guides users wishing to influence the policy-making process. The website helps users identify the right indicators for their policy problem and understand the limits and strengths of the indicators.

The NETGREEN team has invited speakers from several European countries (e.g. Estonia and Poland), to provide different perspectives on how the proposed UN development goals influence the political debate and the political process. The workshop will provide participants with insights on how the UN development goals are applicable and relevant in European countries and how they can be measured. The agenda is available for download at the bottom of this webpage:

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We wish you a blossoming spring!

The ESDN Office Team at the WU Institute for Managing Sustainability

André Martinuzzi
Gerald Berger
Andreas Endl
Markus Hametner
Lisa Lange
Katrin Lepuschitz
Umberto Pisano

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