ESDNewsletter October 2016

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

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New ESDN Quarterly Report on “Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD and the SDGs in Europe: Stock-taking to share experiences and support peer learning”

This ESDN Quarterly Report by the ESDN Office continues the work started and undertaken by the ESDN on several issues relating to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, it deals with the 2016 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) and the Voluntary National Reviews as a form of support for national implementation, sharing of experiences, and peer learning for countries. The report has the following structure: Chapter one provides a brief overview of how the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came into being. It then offers a more in-depth exploration of what has occurred over the first months after the adoption of this global agenda, with particular attention given to the progress made towards reaching the SDGs. The chapter also looks at the results of the first High-Level Political Forum (July 2016, New York), and further reflects on the future steps that countries will be taking in 2017 and beyond in terms of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Chapter two provides an analysis and comparison of the reports written by the seven European countries, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Montenegro, Norway and Switzerland, that took part in the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) at the UN 2016 HLPF. These reports were analysed, and from there four main categories were developed to structure the most relevant content from the VNRs. The four categories that this report will focus on are: 1) Basic information about the 2030 Agenda Voluntary National Reviews; 2) Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs): rationale and involvement; 3) Means of implementation of 2030 Agenda and SDGs; and 4) Monitoring and evaluation. For each of these macro-categories, several guiding questions were introduced to further understand and describe the governance mechanisms involved in implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Chapter three concludes, summarises and provides the key messages from chapters one and two. It can be seen and used as Executive Summary.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

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ESDN Conference 2016, “Vertical integration in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD: Addressing the role of sub-national and local levels”, in Bern, Switzerland on 10-11 November 2016

The ESDN Conference 2016, entitled “Vertical integration in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD: Addressing the role of sub-national and local levels”, will take place in Bern, Switzerland on 10-11 November 2016, organized in cooperation with the Sustainable Development Section of the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE). The conference will be a 1.5 days event (10 November full day, 11 November until lunch time) and will bring together policy-makers and experts from different stakeholder groups from all over Europe.

The conference will focus on the vertical integration aspects in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, addressing the role of sub-national and local levels. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs will require action and efforts at all political levels and also cooperation between the different levels. The conference will thus provide an excellent chance to reflect on first 2030 Agenda/SDGs implementation experiences in the different European countries, especially on the role of and activities on the sub-national and local levels.

More information about the conference can be found on the ESDN website or by writing to the ESDN Office at

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First ESDN Peer Learning Platform in Brussels on 13 October 2016

The first ESDN Peer Learning Platform, “Policy coherence and cooperation for the 2030 Agenda and SDGs implementation”, will take place in Brussels on 13 October 2016. It will be a structured space for informal learning and exchange for policy-makers who are responsible for or involved in the 2030 Agenda and SDGs. The recommendations of participants at the ESDN Conference 2015 in Luxembourg, summarized in the ESDN Proposition on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, included the suggestion to establish a “peer learning processes among policy-makers of European countries” to share experiences and practices of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs implementation. This suggestion has been now taken up by the ESDN. The concept and format for the ESDN Peer Learning Platform is based on suggestions gathered at the 14th ESDN Workshop that took place on 14 June 2016 in Berlin.

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ESDN now on Twitter

The ESDN recently went on Twitter (@ESDN_network) to be able to post important information and activities about our network more rapidly and to also report more directly from our events. Please follow us!

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European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) 2017 from 30 May-5 June 2017!

The third European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) will take place from 30 May-5 June 2017. This European-wide initiative was initiated by Austria, France and Germany and is supported by the European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN). Its aim is to stimulate and make visible all those activities, projects and events that promote sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Europe on a common online platform ( The ESDW 2015 and 2016 were both great successes and received high level political recognition: First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans endorsed the Week in a press release, and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel highlighted the importance and success of the ESDW at the recent 16th annual conference of the German Council for Sustainable Development.

More information on the ESDW 2017 will follow very soon! In the meantime, please visit the ESDW website for checking out previous activities and get inspired for 2017!

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

Belgium: Second Walloon SD Strategy adopted in July 2016

The second Walloon SD Strategy was adopted by the Walloon Government in July 2016 and is available in French. It aims at contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD and the SDGs. It encompasses a long term vision by 2050, a diagnosis of the current state of play, short and mid-term objectives using the SDGs as a framework, and an action plan of 100 actions. The action plan concentrates on 3 strategic priorities, namely food, energy and natural resources, and on a set of transversal actions, including the preparation in 2017 of a first report on the implementation of the SDGs in Wallonia. The strategy will also contribute to the elaboration of a National SD Strategy that is expected to be adopted this year.

Germany: First SD Strategy of North Rhine-Westphalia adopted

The Government of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany adopted its first SD Strategy in June 2016. It is the first German region that commits itself to implement the global SDGs that were adopted at the UN Summit in New York in September 2016. The centerpiece of the SD Strategy is a goal and indicator system for 19 main fields of action with which the regional government determines ambitious goals to be reached by 2030. The monitoring system comprises about 70 indicators. Every two years, an indicator report will be prepared, and every four years, the SD Strategy will be updated. Please find more information on the SG Strategy in German here, and the French version can be found at the Germany country profile at the ESDN homepage.   

European Commission: Strategic Note “Sustainability Now! A European Vision for Sustainability”

The European Political Strategy Centre published a new Strategic Note, entitled “Sustainability Now! A European Vision for Sustainability”, in July 2016. The paper is authored by Karl Falkenberg, Senior Adviser for Sustainable Development to the President of the European Commission, and it calls for new forms of governance to achieve innovative and inclusive economic growth in a world of limited resources. It argues for strategic policy focus on sustainability hotspots - financial markets, agriculture, trade, oceans, cities - which can transform economy and society. You can download the strategic note here.

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. Country profiles are continuously updated with latest pieces information on NSDS processes (e.g. current NSDS document and link, horizontal and vertical integration, stakeholder participation, evaluation, etc.). Please check the country profiles regularly for updates.

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Other news:

United Nations: High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2016 in New York – documentation online, and outlook to HLPF in 2017

The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is the UN’s central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015. The Forum, which adopts a Ministerial Declaration, is expected to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and follow-up; keep track of progress of the SDGs; spur coherent policies informed by evidence, science and country experiences; as well as address new and emerging issues. The HLPF in 2016 was the first since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The session included voluntary reviews of 22 countries and thematic reviews of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, including cross-cutting issues, supported by reviews by the ECOSOC functional commissions and other inter-governmental bodies and forums. HLPF also included a range of side events, a Partnership Exchange special event, an SDGs Business Forum, and SDGs Learning, Training and Practice sessions. A full documentation of the event, incl. the 22 voluntary national reviews, can be found here.

The HLPF in 2017 will take place in New York from 10-19 July. The theme will be "Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world". The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be the following, including Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, that will be considered each year:

Among the countries that will prepare a voluntary national review in 2017 are Luxembourg, Monaco, and the Netherlands.

European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils (EEAC) 24th Annual Conference, “Resilient policies for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development”, Barcelona, 20-21 October 2016

The European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils (EEAC) will hold its 24th Annual Conference, entitled “Resilient policies for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development”, in Barcelona on 20-21 October 2016. This year’s event will be organized jointly by the EEAC and the Advisory Council for the Sustainable Development of Catalonia (CADS). Agenda 2030 presents an ambitious vision that covers the ‘five Ps’ of People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. However, this vision will come under severe pressure if shifts, shocks and stresses like climate change and financial, social and resource crises are not properly addressed. Therefore, the ability to deal with and use these shifts, shocks and stresses to spur renewal and to promote sustainability seems more important than ever. For that reason, the further integration of the concept of “resilience” in European policy-making is of major significance. The plenary conference programme will take place over one and a half days, and will touch upon the role of resilience policies in contributing to the effective implementation of Agenda 2030, focusing in particular on the food, energy and water nexus, the challenges of creating resilient communities, and the roles of the different governmental levels. Consequently, the conference will bring together representatives from global and European institutions, national and regional governments, research institutes, non-governmental organisations, and advisory councils. Click here for the provisional conference programme and register now!

Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS): New report on Sustainable Development in the Baltic Sea Region

“Assessing the Status of Sustainable Development in the Baltic Sea Region: A Macro-Regional Perspective” is a publication commissioned by the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development – Baltic 2030 and compiled by the Baltic University Programme and the Uppsala Centre for Sustainable Development. This report is aimed at enabling fruitful cooperation between the Baltic Sea States in implementing and pursuing the global 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and serves as a resource for developing governance for SDGs implementation in the region. Further, the report includes suggestions on how to organize the work for the SDGs in the future. Together with two special studies on climate change and sustainable consumption and production, the report gives a broad overview of the state of affairs in the BSR and summarizes the knowledge in relation to governance features, which are viewed as central for enhancing sustainable development governance capacity. You can download the three parts of the Report from the CBSS Baltic 2030 website at

OECD: Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (PCSD) Partnership

The PCSD Partnership brings together governments, international organizations, civil society, think-tanks, the private sector, and other stakeholders from all regions of the world committed and working to enhance policy coherence for sustainable development (SDG 17.14) as a key means of SDG implementation. Through its multi-stakeholder platform the members of the PCSD Partnership works together to: Share knowledge and experiences to address the policy implications of SDG implementation; mobilise political will to adapt institutional mechanisms and policy-making processes to the vision and principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; build capacities to analyse policy coherence challenges, track progress, and assess the effects of policies on sustainable development; strengthen existing policy coherence monitoring and reporting systems; and support national efforts for reporting progress on SDG Target 17.14 to "enhance policy coherence for sustainable development". The main working method of the PCSD Partnership will be virtually through an online platform, with annual face-to-face meetings in the margins of the HLPF. More information can be found at the OCED homepage.

New book: “Parachuting Cats into Borneo” on sustainability transformation by Axel Klimek and Alan AtKisson

“Parachuting Cats into Borneo” takes its name from an historic, cautionary tale about what can go wrong: about two-thirds of efforts to make positive change in organizations and institutions end up in failure, according to studies cited in the book. The authors, Klimek and AtKisson, bring over fifty years of combined experience to the table, to help readers avoid common obstacles and equip themselves for greater success. While aiming to support positive change of all kinds, the authors build on decades of experience working with the special problems of sustainability transformation in companies, governments, cities and institutions. Sustainability has been an especially valuable learning arena, note Klimek and AtKisson, “because achieving [sustainability] requires altering some very deeply embedded human habits, concepts, and attitudes.” The closing chapters are devoted to building capacity for leading change in one of the most demanding, and increasingly essential, challenges of our time: making sustainability real. More info about the book can be found here. The book is available to order and download as an e-book through the publisher’s website, here: As ESDNewsletter subscribers you can get a 50% discount on the e-book by using this code: CATS50. Also, the print/paper book can be ordered (only by phone!) in the EU and UK with a 35% discount using this code:  CATS35

New article: “Teaching Silos to Dance: A Condition to Implement the SDGs” on addressing horizontal policy integration challenges in the context of the 2030 Agenda for SD by Ingeborg Niestroy and Louis Meuleman

“Breaking down the silos” has become again a vivid call, even a mantra, in debates on governance for sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in recognition of its comprehensive, holistic and systemic approach. Recently, various workshops, events, and sessions at the HLPF in July 2016 are just a few of the fora where silo-breaking has been addressed. But what is actually meant by it? What do people imagine when they call for breaking down the silos? Now that the HLPF has ended, it is useful to consider possible answers, to inform ongoing and future work on the ground. This article argues that while the SDGs require breaking down “mental silos” to allow for change, the common call to break down institutional silos poses risks. Institutions provide the necessary structure, reliability, transparency and communication points. Instead of breaking them down, we need to teach silos to dance. Read the full article here.

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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
Eric Mulholland
Umberto Pisano

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