ESDNewsletter October 2015

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Governance for SD principles, approaches and examples in Europe”

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations General Assembly on 25-27 September 2015 in New York has given new impetus to the sustainable development (SD) agenda. In order to promote the transition towards a socio-economic system characterized by greater sustainability for all, a new governance architecture, based on the principles of the approach known as ‘Governance for SD’, is needed to guide this change. What constitutes this governance architecture, however, warrants further discussion.

The aim of this Quarterly Report is to put into context the current debate concerning what characteristics a governance architecture that promotes the SDGs should incorporate. Chapter 1 puts the SDGs into historical context by describing the road that has led up to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Chapter 2 describes the concept of ‘Governance for Sustainable Development’ with reference to the academic debates and policy practices that have shaped it over time. A taxonomy of ‘governance for SD’ principles will be provided as guideline for the reader to understand how governance structures and processes can support and facilitate this new impetus towards a more sustainable future. Chapter 3 investigates how the principles of ‘Governance for Sustainable Development’ are taken up in the new 2030 Agenda architecture at the international level with a closer look at the sustainable development goals (SDGs). It will also describe the current situation in Europe and EU Member States with the perspective of ‘governance for SD’. Chapter 4 summarises an analysis on drivers for change in National Sustainable Development Strategies and innovative approaches in Finland and France. The report finally concludes with thoughts on the main topics covered in the Quarterly Report.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

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ESDN Conference 2015, “Implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda at the EU and national level: Designing effective governance architectures and strategic frameworks”, Luxembourg, 8-9 October 2015 – first part of the documentation online!

The ESDN Conference 2015 took place in Luxembourg on 8-9 October 2015, organized in cooperation with the incoming Luxembourgish EU Presidency. A total of 82 participants from 21 European countries took part in the conference. The ESDN Conference 2015 was entitled “Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the EU and national level: Designing effective governance architectures and strategic frameworks”. The United Nations launched the ‘2030 Agenda’ in New York in 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 was to discuss how the 2030 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.

The discussion paper, the slides of the keynote presentations, the group work results, and the participant list are already online at the ESDN Conference 2015 information on the ESDN website. A full conference documentation will follow soon, so please check back at the ESDN homepage for updates.

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13th ESDN Workshop, “Stocktaking and perspectives on environmental dialogue in Europe” as joint event with the EEAC Annaul Conference, Paris, 12-13 November 2015

The 13th ESDN Workshop, “Strengthening environmental and sustainable development dialogue in Europe in the context of the 2030 SD Agenda”, will take place in Paris on 12-13 November 2015. This ESDN Workshop is a joint event with the EEAC Annual Conference 2015, “Civil Society and climate change: On the road to Paris”, that will start in the evening of 12 November and run until noon on 13 November. Both events are organized in cooperation with the French Ministry for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.

The ESDN Workshop will focus on environmental and SD dialogues in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In recent years, the environmental dialogue between policy makers and stakeholders has gained important momentum in France with the unique annual “conférences environnementale” that bring together all stakeholders around the ecological transition towards sustainable development. The ESDN Workshop will take stock of European experiences of environmental and sustainable development dialogues in different countries and reflect upon how to improve stakeholder dialogues, also in the context of the 2030 SD Agenda.

For more information on the ESDN workshop and the joint event with the EEAC, please visit the workshop website of the ESDN homepage or send an email to

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European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) 2016 from 30 May-5 June 2016

After the great success of the first European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) with 4,116 activities in 29 European countries, the ESDW will also take place in 2016, again from 30 May-5 June. More information will follow soon! In the meantime, please visit the ESDW website ( and get inspired by the wide range of this year’s activities!

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New ESDN Case Study on Voluntary commitments in international, European and national sustainable development processes online

The new ESDN Case Study, “Voluntary commitments in international, European and national sustainable development processes – drivers for change?”, is now online at the ESDN homepage. The case study shows how these voluntary commitments look like and present their different nature. Examples are taken from the international, European as well as the national level, with a specific focus on Finland’s national strategy of voluntary commitments to achieve their SD objectives.

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

Germany: Statement by the German Council for Sustainable Development on Germany’s Sustainability Architecture and the SDGs

The German Council for Sustainable Development issued in May 2015 a statement to Federal Minister Peter Altmaier (Chief of Staff of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs) on Germany’s sustainability architecture and the SDGs. In this paper, the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) addresses the question as to whether and how a national implementation of the SDGs will impact the structures and institutions of Germany’s sustainability policy. This question was originally raised by the State Secretaries’ Committee on Sustainable Development in November 2014.

The comments contained in this statement are the result of two work phases: During the first stage, the present state of affairs was explored, over 80 experts were heard, and an interim report was drafted. During the second stage, RNE drafted a detailed set of recommendations. The staff level of the federal ministries was included in this process. You can access the English version of the RNE report here.

Latvia: First joint monitoring report of the Sustainable Development Strategy and the National Development Plan published in September 2015

The first joint monitoring report of the Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia until 2030 and the National Development Plan of Latvia for 2014-2020 was published on 7 September 2015. It includes an evaluation of the progress in achieving indicators included in the Sustainable Development Strategy and the National Development Plan, a summary of policies implemented to achieve this goals, as well as recommendations for improving these policies. The report is supplemented by an indicator report that includes all monitoring indicators included in both strategic planning documents. The progress in achieving the indicators is measured on a four point scale where 2 (good) characterizes a better than expected and stable progress, 1 (satisfactory) – progress with a slight irregularity or lack of stability, 0 (week) – significant underperformance and -1 (unsatisfactory) – tendencies contrary to the planned trajectory.

The report shows a significant progress in such indicators as the employment level, global competitiveness index, and the tertiary educational attainment. Also such indicators as the income inequality, expectancy of life, and the number of births have improved. However, the level of deaths from external causes remains high. Unsatisfactory progress characterises also such indicators as expenditures for R&D, the level of poverty in single-parent families, and the concentration of inhabitants in the metropolitan area of the capital city Riga. The reports are currently only available in Latvia (see link below), but English versions will be available soon.

Indicator report:

Wales: Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 adopted

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 became law in Wales on 29 April 2015. The Act will make the public bodies listed in the Act think more about the long term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems and take a more joined-up approach. This new law will mean that, for the first time, public bodies listed in the Act must do what they do in a sustainable way. Public bodies need to make sure that when making their decisions they take into account the impact they could have on people living their lives in Wales in the future. It will expect them to: work together better; involve people reflecting the diversity of our communities; look to the long term as well as focusing on now; and take action to try and stop problems getting worse - or even stop them happening in the first place. The Act establishes a statutory Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, whose role is to act as a guardian for the interests of future generations in Wales, and to support the public bodies listed in the Act to work towards achieving the well-being goals. The Act also establishes Public Services Boards (PSBs) for each local authority area in Wales. Each PSB must improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of its area by working to achieve the well-being goals. The full version of the Act can be accessed here; and a shorter document, titled “The Essentials”, provides information in a nutshell.

Eurostat: Sustainable development in the European Union — 2015 monitoring report of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) published

Eurostat has published the sixth edition of its Monitoring Report of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, entitled "Sustainable development in the European Union". The new 2015 edition shows that while the EU has made progress towards several of its objectives both in the long term (since 2000) and the short term (over the past five years), a number of unsustainable trends still persist.

The Eurostat monitoring report on the EU SDS, published every two years, provides an objective, statistical picture of progress, based on the EU set of sustainable development indicators. Quantitative rules applied consistently across indicators, and visualised through weather symbols, provide an assessment of whether Europe is moving towards the objectives and targets defined in the strategy. The statistics presented in the report, covering the period from 1990 to 2014 (or the latest year available), illustrate the range of issues relevant for sustainable development, and should contribute to raising awareness of the opportunities and challenges lying ahead. You can download and order the report from the Eurostat website.


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Other news:

United Nations: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda was held from 25-27 September 2015 in New York and convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly. At this summit, “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was adopted, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. The Preamble of the 2030 Agenda for SD makes clear that “[t]his Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. […] All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan.” For downloading the 2030 Agenda document and getting more background information, please visit the UN 2030 Agenda website.

Conference “Sustainable Development Goals: Implementation in Europe – United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) - Opportunities for Engagement of Major Groups and Stakeholders”, Brussels, 12-13 November 2015

This conference is organised by the EESC, UNEP & EEB. The new United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted on the UN world summit on 25th – 27th September, sets out an unprecedented broad action plan for people, planet and prosperity. Europe's responsibility and contribution to the full implementation of the new agenda will be at the centre of the first conference day. It will provide a forum for a discussion between political decision-makers and civil society about governance mechanisms required for a successful, transformative action in the EU as well as in the wider European region while giving civil society a strong role in monitoring the SDGs' implementation. The conference will be combined on the second conference day with the 2015 UNEP Regional Consultation for Europe with Major Groups and Stakeholders from the region to contribute with their positions to the preparation of the second session of the United Nation Environment Assembly in May 2016 which will focus on delivering on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Please find more information on the conference website

SDG Symposium on “Evaluating the Sustainable Development Goals – New Challenges for Research, Policy and Business”, Vienna, 28 October 2015

The WU Institute for Managing Sustainability at Vienna University of Economics and Business, in collaboration with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the European Evaluation Society (EES), organizesa symposium onEvaluating the Sustainable Development Goals - New Challenges for Research, Policy and Business”.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations in September 2015, a new set of objectives for global sustainable development will guide the global development agenda. The SDGs provide a comprehensive approach, ensuring a high level of ambition for achieving results, involving development agencies and governments, international organisations, civil society and business. Coinciding with 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation and the European Year of Development the symposium aims to be a forum for discussion on the implications of the SDGs for the impact evaluation of policies, programmes and projects across sectors. For more information, please visit the conference website.

European-wide conference on resource efficiency and the Circular Economy Package, “Policy mixes promoting resource efficiency for a circular economy”, Brussels, 15-16 February 2016

After three years of intensive research and analysis, the DYNAMIX and POLFREE projects, both funded by the European Commission’s FP7 program, will come to a close in March 2016. Therefore, it is time to present and disseminate their main results and messages from the research outcomes on policy mixes for a resource efficient EU. This Joint Final Conference of the two projects will offer the unique opportunity to learn from two major research projects and their findings on policy mixes for resource efficiency, networking with a large pool of experts and practitioners from all over Europe, and taking part in a high-level debate to link science-based evidence to the upcoming Circular Economy Package. If you want to get more information, please send an email to and visit the websites of DYNAMIX and POLFREE.

3rd International Growth in Transition Conference, “How Constraints Make Us Grow – Society in Transition, Vienna, 22-24 February, 2016

The Austrian Federal Ministry of Environment together with more than 20 partner organisations will organize the conference “How Constraints Make Us Grow – A Society in Transition”. The conference is scheduled to take place from the 22-24 February 2016 in Vienna, Austria. The conference will elaborate what form of prosperity we envisage, how to conduct alternative economic activities and how to shape possible social and economic models with the aim of leading over to a sustainable economy. In particular, the 3-day conference will (1) examine a wide range of constraints and boundaries hindering us from adopting a new direction towards sustainability; (2) highlight existing successful alternative approaches and initiatives, considering the biophysical limits of the planet; and (3) encourage participants for cross-shared discussions of mutual interest so as to develop concrete visions. The conference is part of the Austrian initiative “Growth in Transition”. For more details see About 600 participants attended the previous conference within the same context in 2012.

Website with tools, resources and news on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The newly created website provides access a growing collection of tools, resources, news, and inspiration designed to help all stakeholders to understand the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from a whole-systems perspective, and take action towards making them part of your life and work. 17Goals is the joint creation of a global network of sustainability organizations, experts, and enthusiasts determined to make it easy for people and organizations of all kinds to engage with the SDGs. They intend to grow their network over time, drawing on people and organizations who bring a whole-systems perspective to the challenge of achieving the SDGs — and who share their passion for making them more approachable for all. If you are interested in getting in touch or joining us in their mission, contact us at


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We wish you a colourful autumn!

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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