ESDNewsletter October 2017

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 “Experiences and Governance Mechanisms at the Local and Urban Level for SD and 2030 Agenda Implementation”

This Quarterly Report (QR) will focus on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the local and urban level. The local or urban level is often described as the level that is able to affect the greatest amount of change when it comes to sustainable development, as it is the level that is closest to citizens, businesses, and other stakeholders, and is argued to be able to understand their needs better than other, more encompassing levels, such as the regional or national level. Many of the practical examples that are described in this QR were chosen based on the 15th ESDN Workshop, which focuses on local/urban level implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, where many of the local/urban level examples in this Report were presented in keynote presentations. The first chapter of this QR will look into what the local and urban levels have done in the past with respect to sustainable development in an effort to assess whether these past experiences dealing with sustainable development provide a framework and structure that could help the local/urban level in their SDG implementation efforts. The chapter will look into Local Agenda 21, ‘Sustainable Cities’, ‘Resilient Cities’, and ‘Smart Cities’ to see how these experiences in sustainable development can be used in relation to the SDGs and their implementation. Chapter two will look into the support networks that are working closely with the local and urban level in the implementation of the SDGs, focusing on how they are able to aid them in implementation. Chapter three will build off of chapter one by providing practical examples of cities and municipalities that are actively implementing the SDGs, looking into how they were able to implement them and the challenges and successes they have had. A concluding chapter will reflect on the experiences and governance mechanisms at the local and urban level and identify some important similarities and differences.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report online

Back to overview

15th ESDN Workshop, “Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs at the sub-national level: Practical experiences and governance needs”, Berlin, Germany, 16-17 October 2017

The 15th ESDN Workshop, “Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs at the sub-national level: Practical experiences and governance needs”, will be held in Berlin, Germany on 16-17 October 2017. The workshop will be organized in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

The main goal of this workshop is to learn about and share the experiences of the local and urban level in implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in Europe. Against this background, the workshop will focus on the following questions and topics: How does the local and urban level utilize past experiences in SD in the implementation of the SDGs?; How to move from previous SD activities and systems to activities and systems that integrate the SDGs at the local and urban level?; reflecting on impulses and support from existing local and urban networks in the implementation of the SDGs; showcasing practical examples of SDG implementation at the local and urban level; and developing recommendations for the effective implementation of the SDGs at the local and urban level.

For more information on the workshop, please go to the ESDN website!

Back to overview

ESDN Conference 2017 on “Strategic Governance for SD: New developments and approaches in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs” in Prague, Czech Republic, 22-23 June 2017 – full documentation now online

The ESDN Conference 2017, entitled “Strategic Governance for SD: New developments and approaches in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs” took place in Prague, Czech Republic on 22-23 June 2017, in cooperation with the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic (Department of Sustainable Development). The conference was a 1.5 days event and brought together policy-makers and experts from different stakeholder groups from all over Europe. A total of 75 participants from 24 countries took part in the conference.

The full conference documentation is now online, including the final program, participant list, discussion paper, the slides of the keynote presentations and break-out group presentations, the conference report, and a photo documentation. Please go to the conference section of the ESDN website to download these documents.

Back to overview

ESDN Side Event at the HLPF 2017 on 12 July 2017

The ESDN organized a Side Event at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2017, which took place at the UN Headquarters in New York. This Side Event, entitled “The Role of Peer Learning in Achieving the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs”, was organized by Austria, in cooperation with member countries of the ESDN Steering Group and the European Commission. 

The ESDN Side Event introduced the Peer Learning Mechanism that the ESDN has recently developed, inviting for a broader reflection on peer learning as a general approach to support learning and experience sharing in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Important questions that were addressed in this Side Event: How has peer learning been addressed in different regions? What issues in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs will particularly benefit from peer learning? How to put peer learning into effective practice?

The report of the ESDN Side Event can be found here.

Back to overview

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

Belgium: Activities on SDG Indicators and Monitoring

At the national level, the SDG indicators Working Group of the Interfederal Institute for Statistics has provided an inventory of existing indicators in Belgium that corresponds to the UN proposed indicators to monitor the SDGs. This working group will continue its task in 2018, with the goal of organizing a database of SDG indicators for Belgium and its regions. As a preview, the working group has prepared the statistical annex of the Voluntary National Review, presented in July at the UN-General Assembly. This annex included 34 indicators (2 per SDG) and their disaggregation by sex, age, income level, education, etc.

At the federal level, the 2010 Federal Act on SD stipulates that within the development of the long-term vision, indicators must be used to assess whether the objectives are achieved. Sustainable development indicators are published by the Task Force on Sustainable Development (TFSD) of the Federal Planning Bureau (FPB) as part of the Federal Reports on Sustainable Development. The latest set, updated in June 2016, was conducted on the basis of 31 indicators from the database of existing sustainable development indicators at the Federal Planning Bureau. These 31 indicators were chosen to form a first progress report from Belgium on the implementation of the 17 SDGs. These 31 indicators are part of a larger set of about eighty indicators, published on the web site with SD indicators. This assessment will be updated before the end of 2017 with the 34 indicators included in the statistical annex of the VNR and published in the next Federal Report on Sustainable Development.

Germany: Recent developments on the German National Sustainable Development Strategy

The National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) was originally adopted by the German Government in 2002. Through a total of three extensive Progress Reports (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016), the NSDS has been continuously reviewed, updated and further developed. Accompanied by a very broad participatory consultation process, the NSDS has been carefully reviewed in 2016 in all its essential elements and has been adopted by the German Government in January 2017. The new NSDS as well as the targets and indicators are structured along the 17 SDGs. The NSDS has been maintained over three changes of government, documenting the broad, constant political consensus in Germany regarding the importance of sustainable development. The next update of the Strategy is scheduled for 2018. It will be evaluated if targets and indicators need to be adjusted, and new measures to implement the Agenda 2030 will be developed. The next comprehensive update and report will take place in 2020. 

As part of the new NSDS, it was decided to further strengthen policy coherence: Coordinators for Sustainable Development have been appointed in each ministry, in most cases at Director-General level. They are central contact persons for all issues relating to Sustainable Development and will be involved in the preparation of the Sustainable Development Impact assessments.

The new NSDS aims also at strengthening stakeholder involvement. Plans for this include a regular dialogue format (“Sustainability Forum”) and the greater involvement of social stakeholders in the preparation of meetings of the State Secretaries’ Committee. The first Sustainability Forum took place in July 2017. The government presented progress on implementing the 2030 Agenda. Social organisations reported on their activities and discussed implementation measures of the government. In science, various initiatives have been launched to support the implementation of the SDGs. The Federal Government has embraced these initiatives and offers a platform on which scientific support for the implementation of the SDGs will be pooled (“Wissenschaftsplattform Nachhaltigkeit 2030”).

Greece: Processes and efforts to implement the SDGs at the national level

Greece, after a preparatory phase for setting up the required governance structure that will undertake the responsibility of coordinating efforts at national level for the implementation of the SDGs, is currently in the process of “adapting” the SDGs to national priorities and circumstances by undertaking various activities.

Preparation for HLPF 2018: Greece will be going through the VNR process for the HLPF 2018. The “Inter-ministerial Coordination Committee”, led by the General Secretariat of the Government, has already started the national preparations for the drafting of the outline of the National VNR Report. Since the 5 SDGs selected for the in-depth thematic review during the 2018 HLPF are of an “environmental nature” (i.e. SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 15), an important part of the work to be done regarding the thematic analysis falls under the responsibilities of the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy. Greece plans to elaborate a National Implementation Action Plan after the VNR process is completed, which is due to be finalized in later 2018.

Stakeholder engagement: In terms of participation and consultation, and since the implementation of the SDGs goes far beyond the responsibilities of the government, particular emphasis is given to awareness raising on SDGs at all levels and to stakeholders engagement. The aim is to set up a permanent consultation platform for all stakeholders (both an electronic one / online and also through regular Meetings and Dialogues) to ensure balance, regularity of consultations in a structured manner, transparency, partnership and accountability. In this regard, the GSG holds meetings with stakeholder to also provide the opportunity to stakeholders to develop a more efficient internal self-coordination process so that they can more effectively participate to the overall national dialogue and contribute with concrete proposals.

Montenegro: National Strategy for Sustainable Development until 2030: English version now available

Starting from the vision of sustainable development of Montenegro, set in the 2007 National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD), and the assessment of the development priorities of Montenegro expressed by the citizens of Montenegro within the consultative process “Montenegro We Want”, and later in the consultative process that followed the development of the new NSSD for the period until 2030, the vision of sustainable development of Montenegro until 2030 was defined, and it consists of ten key elements. A summary of the NSSD until 2030 with its key elements is available on the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism website. The full document is now available also in English!

Poland: Towards the Voluntary National Review at the 2018 HLPF

The Strategy for Responsible Development (SRD) is a key document through which the SDGs are implemented in Poland. The task of the Ministry of Economic Development as a coordinator of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Poland and the Strategy for Responsible Development is to use an integrated approach (in line with the 2030 Agenda provisions). An integrated approach means the concentration of different actions taken by different actors - the government, the local government, the business entities and the social partners - around the indicated strategic objectives. In order to coordinate the implementation of SDGs in Poland, a special Task force for coherence of the objectives of the SRD and the 2030 Agenda has been appointed within the Development Policy Coordination Committee. The main goal of the new Task force is to prepare Poland for its VNR at the 2018 HLPF. Representatives of national government ministries, the local government, academia and social and economic organizations participate in the team's work.

Back to overview

Other news:

EEB Annual Conference 2017: “Changing Landscapes – Protecting the environment in a new Europe”, 6 November 2017, Edinburgh, UK

Organized together with EEB member Scottish Environment, the EEB’s 2017 Annual Conference will debate how policies can and should be delivered to tackle the changing landscape for the environment in Europe. The conference will bring together members of the environmental movement from across the EU, the UK and Scotland, together with policy makers, civil society, thought leaders as well as entrepreneurs. Participants will debate issues such as tackling climate change, preventing biodiversity loss, undertaking a deep reform of agriculture policies and safeguarding our marine environment, with the overarching aim of fully implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More information is available at

The Nordic Council of Ministers: “Generation 2030 – Nordic programme for implementing Agenda 2030” adopted

On 5 September 2017, the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation adopted the “Generation 2030” programme. The overall ambition of the programme is to ensure that the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) works with the Agenda as a whole within the eleven different minister councils through a systematic integration of Agenda 2030 in strategic documents, budget processes and in the management of ongoing and new projects and programmes. Much of the current work of the Nordic Council of Ministers supports the SDGs, however a successful mainstreaming of Agenda 2030 across the organisation will strengthen and further develop Nordic collaboration on sustainable development. A central feature of the programme, running from 2017 – 2020, is a thematic focus on Sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12, with links to several other goals, in particular 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15). This has been identified as one of the areas where the Nordic countries face the biggest challenges in reaching the SDGs (see the short publication “Bumps on the Road to 2030”). The programme consist of efforts supporting three overarching areas:

  1. Ensuring that the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers contributes to the implementation of Agenda 2030 by way of political focus and relevant projects;
  2. Contributing to knowledge sharing and awareness raising related to Agenda 2030 in the Nordic Region;
  3. Improving the visibility of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ work with Agenda 2030 in the Nordic Region and internationally.

The programme has been developed based on the study Sustainable Development Action – the Nordic Way (2017) and through dialog with a wide range of Nordic stakeholders from civil society, the private sector, and youth organisations. As indicated by the title of the programme, “Generation 2030” emphasises the involvement of children and young people as agents of change – now and in the future. The programme will be carried out with from a gender mainstreaming perspective.

Briefing report on “Evaluation: a missed opportunity in the SDGs’ first set of Voluntary National Reviews” available online

At the 2016 UN High Level Political Forum, 22 countries presented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on their efforts to implement national-level follow-up and review frameworks for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). VNRs are meant to cover the status of the 17 SDGs in each reporting country and to provide an overview of processes planned to assess national progress towards them. This briefing reports on a review of the 22 VNRs, which focuses on how each addressed the role of evaluation. It found that most VNRs show little awareness about just what evaluation is and how it could be used to support the 2030 Agenda. Many more countries will soon be presenting their VNRs. The recommendations presented here can strengthen and improve future reporting on VNRs.

Back to overview

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

We wish you a colourful autumn!

The ESDN Office Team at the WU Institute for Managing Sustainability

André Martinuzzi
Gerald Berger
Alessia Bernardo
Andreas Endl
Markus Hametner
Eric Mulholland

Our subscription policy

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