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The ESDN Quarterly Reports provide in-depth documentation of a selected topic on a quarterly basis. The current ESDN Quarterly Report is displayed below. For previous ESDN Quarterly Reports click here.

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ESDN Quarterly Report December 2015

The role of stakeholder participation in European
sustainable development policies and strategies

by Umberto Pisano, Lisa K. Lange, Katrin Lepuschitz and Gerald Berger

This ESDN Quarterly Report reflects on the importance of stakeholder participation and engagement with particular emphasis on the processes and policies that concern National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDSs) in Europe, but also in light of the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The development and implementation of SD related policies take place in a multi-actor, multi-level and multi-sectorial context. Continuous learning and adaption of policies and political commitment to pursue long-term goals in an active and adaptive manner are necessary. Stakeholder participation and engagement is necessary not only in the design and implementation of SD strategies, policies and projects, but also into the general decision-making process.

This QR also reflects on the discussions and exchanges held at the 13th ESDN Workshop, entitled “Strengthening environmental and sustainable development dialogue in Europe in the context of the 2030 SD Agenda”, which took place in Paris on 12-13 November 2015. The 13th ESDN Workshop was organised as a joint event with the EEAC Annual Conference 2015, “Civil Society and climate change: On the road to Paris”. Both events were organised in cooperation with the French Ministry for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. The main aim of the 13th ESDN Workshop was to 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 Agenda for SD. This theme is also reflected within this report.

This Quarterly Report has the following structure: Chapter 1 provides a definition of stakeholder participation by referring to the main discussions in the academic world, and concentrates on describing rationales, characteristics, challenges, and potential benefits of participation in the context of sustainable development. Chapter 2 describes the role and the usage of stakeholder participation in Europe in the context of environmental and sustainable development policies and strategies. For this reason, we include and reflect on the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS), the Europe 2020 strategy, and reflect on its flagship initiatives. We also look into how stakeholder participation is dealt with in the newly adopted ‘Circular Economy Package’ by the European Commission. Chapter 3 then provides an overview on how stakeholder participation is incorporated in SD policies and strategies at the national level in Europe: we first give a more general European picture taken from an analysis of the contributions on the country profiles section of the ESDN website, and then present in more detail the experiences of four European countries: France, Finland, Germany and Switzerland. Chapter 4 summarises the main discussions and results of the 13th ESDN Workshop. Finally, chapter 5 concludes by providing a reflection on the main themes elaborated in the report.

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