ESDNewsletter July 2015

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

If you have colleagues who may be interested in SD governance in Europe, please feel free to forward this newsletter. We invite them to subscribe to the quarterly ESDNewsletter by clicking here.


New ESDN Quarterly Report on “The European context for monitoring and reviewing SDGs – How EU Member States and the European level are approaching the Post-2015 Agenda”

In continuation of the work undertaken by the ESDN Office in the past several months on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Post-2015 Agenda, this ESDN Quarterly Report aims at integrating and expanding the debates with a particular focus on the processes of monitoring and reviewing SDGs that will be taking place in Europe and in EU Member States. It collects ideas and discussions held in the events organised by the ESDN on the theme ‘Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Agenda’. More precisely, the report refers to the 2014 ESDN Conference held in Rome in November 2014, and to the recent 12th ESDN Workshop on 16June 2015, for which we offer a summary of its discussions and debates.

The report is structured as follows: In chapter one, the current status of the SDGs and the Post-2015 Agenda is presented with the inclusion of an overview of the zero draft published by the UN on 2 June 2015. The second chapter reflects on the European situation and presents an overview of strategy frameworks, the European approach towards the Post-2015 Agenda, and the role of monitoring/reviewing in Europe. The thridhapter  presents the experiences with EU and national SD monitoring and review processes, and includes the key messages from two ESDN case studies. The fourth chapter offers an overview of the main discussions and results  of the 12th ESDN Workshop. Lastly, the fifth chapter concludes by reflecting on the Post-2015 Agenda, the SDGs, and the potential role of the ESDN in this context.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

Back to overview

ESDN Conference 2015, “Implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda at the EU and national level: Designing effective governance architectures and strategic frameworks”, in Luxembourg on 8-9 October 2015

It is our pleasure to inform you that the ESDN Conference 2015 will take place in Luxembourg on 8-9 October 2015, organized in cooperation with the Luxembourgish EU Presidency. The conference is entitled, “Implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda at the EU and national level: Designing effective governance architectures and strategic frameworks”.

The United Nations are currently in the process of defining a ‘Post-2015 Agenda’ that will be launched at a summit in New York September 2015. There have been numerous inputs to the agenda, notably a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The main aim of the ESDN Conference 2015 is to discuss how the Post-2015 Agenda and SDGs will be taken up and implemented at the EU and national level in Europe, which governance architecture and strategic frameworks need to be set up, and how the different stakeholder groups will be involved in the implementation process.

More information about the conference topic and a Draft Conference Program will be distributed soon. Please also regularly check the ESDN Conference 2015 information on the ESDN website.

Back to overview

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 12th ESDN Workshop, “Monitoring and reviewing sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Europe: current debates in EU Member States and on the European level”, took place in Brussels on 16 June 2015. In total, 75 participants from 18 countries took part in the event. The workshop was organized by the ESDN in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The background of the workshop topic is related to current debates and activities on sustainable development:

A full documentation of the workshop, including the Workshop Report, the PowerPoint slides of keynote presentations, the agenda, the Workshop Discussion Paper, the participant list, etc. can be found on the ESDN homepage.

Back to overview

13th ESDN Workshop, “Stocktaking and perspectives on environmental dialogue in Europe”, 12 November 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.

Back to overview

Great success of the first European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW): More than 4,100 activities in 29 European countries

The first European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) took place from 30 May-5 June 2015. This European-wide initiative was initiated by Austria, France and Germany and supported by the ESDN. It was the aim of the ESDW to stimulate and make visible activities, projects and events that promote sustainable development in Europe. With 4,116 activities in 29 European countries, the ESDW was a great success and showed the variety and breadth of sustainable development and how this concept is realized through practical activities at the European, national, regional and local level all across Europe!

Most activities during the ESDW took place in France, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary. In addition, many activities also took place in 24 other European countries. For more information on individual countries and activities, please visit the ESDW website ( Most activities were related to the themes waste and resource conservation (in total, 1246 activities), followed by activities in the area of sustainable consumption (1100), biodiversity (972), energy (719), and buildings/housing (646). Many activities were also related to the themes green jobs/training, climate change, and social inclusion. The most common types of activities that took place were education events (1004), exhibitions/open houses (831), conferences/workshops (669), excursions/trips (613), and festival/markets (357). The rest were film/theatre events, community events, contests, and sport events. The most common types of organizers participating in the ESDW with their activities were local governments (1029), civil society organizations (989), businesses (608), education institutions (268), and national government (161). Activities were also organized by regional governments, individual citizens, research institutions, museums/cultural institutions, and European-wide institutions.

Due to the success of the ESDW 2015, an ESDW 2016 will take place on the same dates 30 May-5 June.

Back to overview

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

Belgium: Federal Report on sustainable development 2015 – “Making our consumption and production sustainable”

The 7th Federal Report on sustainable development, “Making our consumption and production sustainable”, in Part A assesses current evolutions towards the sustainable development objectives. In Part B, it explores two scenarios for transition towards a sustainably developing Belgium and world in 2050. A key element of this report is the federal long-term strategic vision for sustainable development (LTV SD), adopted by the government in 2013, which contains 55 objectives that describe a sustainably developing Belgium in 2050.

Estonia: New Estonian SD Indicator Report published

The new Estonian sustainable development indicators report was published in March 2015 (in Estonian and English). SD indicators reports are published regularly in Estonia and are the main tool for monitoring progress towards the Estonian sustainable development goals. Although it is an indicator based report, it also gives information about relevant government measures that affect achievement of specific goals. The list of Estonian sustainable development indicators was agreed in cooperation with all the ministries via the working group of sustainable development and with the Estonian Sustainable Development Commission who approved the list of indicators. The next indicator based report will most probably take into account also SDGs and SDG indicators as much as possible.

Hungary: Review of the National SD Framework Strategy of Hungary in progress with the contributions of various actors

The current Hungarian national SD strategy, the National Sustainable Development Framework Strategy of Hungary (NSDFS), was adopted in 2013. There is a regulation to prepare the review of the NSDFS implementation in every two years. After the first two years of the NSDFS implementation, the preparation of ‘Review of the NSDFS for 2012-2014 years’ is currently in progress and will be finished in autumn 2015. Several actors (i.e. NCSD, Ministry of Agriculture, NGOs, and other stakeholders) are contributing to the review process.

Netherlands: What do the SDGs mean for the Netherlands?

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency is currently conducting a study for the Dutch Government on what the SDGs will mean for the Netherlands. To answer this question, PBL is making an inventory of existing national targets (agreed upon at the national, European and global level) in line with the environment-related SDG targets. Furthermore, they assess to what extent current policies are able to achieve the existing targets, based on the latest ‘Assessment of the Dutch Human Environment 2014’ (PBL, 2015).

The preliminary findings of the inventory indicate that for many SDG targets, there are already related targets in place, mostly agreed upon at the European or global level. Targets are missing for sustainable agriculture (2.4), sustainable development education (4.7), and ocean acidification (14.3). Furthermore, most existing targets are set for 2020 or earlier, while most SDG targets have 2030 as target year. As most SDG targets are not quantitative and mostly defined globally, it is difficult to compare the ambition of the existing targets with those of the SDGs. The latest ‘Assessment of the Dutch Human Environment’ (for 2014), which unfortunately does not cover the full selection of existing targets, concludes that many existing targets are not being achieved unless current and planned policies are intensified or redesigned.

The full report on what the SDGs mean for the Netherlands will be published around November 2015 after the formal adoption of the SDGs.

Council of the EU: Council Conclusions on the “New Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015”

The Council of the EU on 26 May 2015 adopted the Council Conclusions on the “New Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015” about the Post-2015 Agenda and the SDGs which complement the Conclusions of 16 December 2014. The Conclusions state right at the beginning that “(t)he Post-2015 Agenda presents a great opportunity to address the interlinked challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development. Making the most of this is a key priority for the EU and its Member States”. Furthermore, the Conclusions of May 2015, point out that this new global agenda marks a “paradigm shift to a universal, transformative and inclusive agenda. […] National ownership and accountability will be of key importance for the Post-2015 Agenda and its implementation, including through commitments at the appropriate levels and instruments such as sustainable development strategies”.

European Commission: Public consultation of an ambitious Circular Economy strategy has started & “Closing the Loop” stakeholder conference on 25 June 2015

The Commission is aiming to present a new, more ambitious circular economy strategy late in 2015, to transform Europe into a more competitive resource-efficient economy, addressing a range of economic sectors, including waste. As part of the process, the Commission has launched a public consultation on the subject that runs from 28 May until 20 August 2015.

In this context, the European Commission organized a stakeholder conference, “Closing the Loop – Circular Economy: boosting business, reducing waste”, which took place on 25 June 2015 with drew about 700 delegates. On the Circular Economy website of the European Commission, you can find a documentation of the conference, including the speeches of 3 Commissioners (F. Timmermans, K. Vella, J. Katainen), the break-out session results, and the video recordings of the different sessions of the conference.

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 Belgium and Hungary 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.).

Back to overview

Other news:

United Nations: Final Draft of the Post-2015 Agenda outcome document published

On 8 July 2015, the co-facilitators of the intergovernmental negotiation process on the Post-2015 Development Agenda have issued the “final draft” of the outcome document of the UN Summit in September 2015, which is expected to adopt the development agenda. David Donoghue (Ireland) and Macharia Kamau (Kenya) write that this version of the text builds on, and responds to, input from Member States and other stakeholders provided at the 22-25 June negotiation session. They also indicate that they look forward to its finalization at the final negotiation session, on 20-31 July 2015. The draft is titled ‘Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Global Action,' and contains: a preamble; an introduction; a section on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets; a section on means of implementation (MOI) and the Global Partnership; and a section on follow-up and review.

Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment published

On 24 May 2015, the Vatican published Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “On care for our common home”. In this 184-pages papal encyclical, the Pope calls for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change. In a recent article, the newspaper The Guardian, contrasted this encyclical with the SDGs. In this article, entitled “The pope v the UN: who will save the world first?”, the three authors (one from the London School of Economics) highlight the Pope’s vision, but are rather critical about the SDGs. It’s certainly an interesting and challenging read in the run up to the launch of the Post-2015 Agenda and the SDGs.

Stakeholder Forum published report on “The Implications of the SDGs for Developed Countries”

In May 2015, the Stakeholder Forum published their report, “The Implications of the SDGs for Developed Countries”. The report proposes a new method of analysis of the goals and targets to assist in identifying those which will represent for developed countries the biggest transformational challenges, in the sense of requiring new economic paradigms and changes in patterns of behavior as well as new policies and commitment of resources. In this initial analysis, the methodology identifies the goals of sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12), sustainable energy (SDG 7), and combating climate change (SDG 13) as the three most transformational challenges facing developed countries.

Back to overview

If you want to give us feedback on this newsletter, please click here.

We wish you a relaxing summer time!

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

Our subscription policy

We send you this newsletter because you have subscribed to receive it at If you wish to unsubscribe, please click here.