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Archive: previous ESDN Quarterly Reports

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

October 2018Cooperation between Stakeholders and Policymakers in the Implementation of the SDGs (by Eric Mulholland)
 The topic of this European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN) Quarterly Report is cooperation between stakeholders and policymakers in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It provides an overview of cooperation mechanisms and practices in Europe and looks at the EU, the national level, and at stakeholder activities. This topic is also related to the theme of the ESDN Conference 2018, which focused on stakeholder-policy cooperation in the age of the SDGs. The findings from the Annual Conference, which brought together 120 stakeholders and policymakers from 27 countries for 1.5 days of exchange and learning, can be found in the conclusions section of this Report. However, before addressing cooperation between stakeholders and policymakers in the implementation of the SDGs and whether the SDGs have changed the nature of cooperation, a look into past experiences of cooperation between stakeholders and policymakers with respect to sustainable development is needed to form a basis of measure for how the SDGs have potentially changed this cooperation overall.
July 2018The Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in Europe (by Eric Mulholland)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) will provide an overview of and update on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in various European countries, based on a survey the ESDN Office undertook and the most recent information on national implementation activities that can be found in the country profiles section on the ESDN homepage. To be more specific, information for this QR was collected through a survey that the ESDN Office sent to the ESDN National Focal Points (NPFs) of the government ministries that are responsible for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The survey, which was conducted between May and early July 2018, contained 8 main questions, with a few questions having sub-questions, that all pertained solely to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs within the respective country. The survey questionnaire, which can be found in Annex II to this QR, was sent to 22 NFPs. In total, the ESDN Office received a filled out survey questionnaire from 11 countries. This QR and its subsequent chapters will be broken down by survey topics for the 11 countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, and Switzerland) that have filled out the survey and provided the most current information and overview of what is transpiring within their country regarding Agenda 2030 and SDG implementation. An overview of identified trends will be included in the conclusions chapter and focus on potential reoccurring themes between European countries regarding their implementation mechanisms. Countries for which no replies to the survey were returned, but the country’s section on the 2030 Agenda on the Country Profile section of the ESDN website had been updated in 2017 or 2018, will also be included in the Annex (9 countries in total: Austria, Croatia, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Slovakia, and Sweden). Please find the information on these 9 countries in Annex I of this QR.
April 2018SDG Indicators and Monitoring (by Eric Mulholland, Asya Dimitrova & Markus Hametner)
 The well-known maxim: ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’, is not only relevant in the context of business operations, but is also helpful when it comes to global SD governance and the implementation of political priorities, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). Indicators provide an important measuring ability that enables a relation to be made between the current state of affairs, such as how a country is presently doing regarding reaching certain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and where a country would like to go, or be at, in the future. Indicators also allow progress to be tracked over time, which is important in keeping on track to reach targets and goals, as well as to inform the policy-making process as time goes on. In the context of the SDGs, quality and timely data and metrics are a powerful ‘management tool’ that can help governments, businesses, and civil society identify main challenges and focus their usually limited financial resources accordingly. Going beyond strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation when based on indicators also help improve transparency and accountability, and thus help to ensure the overall success of the SDGs. The development of global, national, or regional indicators, and their regular monitoring, allows countries to evaluate their progress and learn from the successes of others. In learning from past shortcomings, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the predecessors of the SDGs, which were characterized by long data delays, large gaps, and lack of metrics for important indicators, such pitfalls can be avoided when defining indicators, collecting data in a timely manner, and proactively dealing with gaps. To avoid repeating this mistake, and to ensure political and financial commitment, it is important that governments and the international community establish metrics and monitoring processes as early as possible for measuring progress made towards the SDGs. This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a comprehensive, but not exhaustive, overview of the main existing indicator sets and processes for monitoring the SDGs at the global, European Union, and the national level of European countries.
January 2018Budget Provisions in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs (by Eric Mulholland)
 This Quarterly Report focuses on the importance of aligning national budgets along the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in order to help in their successful implementation. Within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there is a reference made in paragraph 45 to the role that national budgets have in implementing the SDGs. Although the passage reflects more on the role and responsibility of parliaments in adopting national budgets, this can be seen as further stressing the importance with which budgets should be bestowed, and the serious effects they have on the implementation of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. Not only is the national budget important for the implementation of the SDGs at the national level, but it also is important, as can be seen from the passage below, in the implementation of the SDGs at the regional and local level: “§45 We acknowledge also the essential role of national parliaments through their enactment of legislation and adoption of budgets and their role in ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of our commitments. Governments and public institutions will also work closely on implementation with regional and local authorities, subregional institutions, international institutions, academia, philanthropic organizations, volunteer groups and others”. Chapter two will look into how the SDGs will be incorporated into the budgets of the European Union, as the European Union is often held to a very high standard by the global community with respect to sustainable development. Recently, the EU and the European Commission have been signaling the increasing importance the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs have, and have reaffirmed their desire to remain a frontrunner in its implementation. Chapters three and four will be dedicated to taking stock of the current situation in Europe regarding national budgetary alignment along the SDGs. Information for the stocktaking exercise is based on European countries that have completed their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) for the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) meetings in New York. Chapter four will highlight good case examples of European countries that are actively pursuing national budgetary alignment along the SDGs. In order to better understand the role of national budgets in the implementation of the SDGs, an understanding of what national budgets are and how the budgeting process works, is helpful in being able to better understand budgeting for the SDGs and sustainable development, in general, as budgeting for sustainable development has been in existence, having taken various forms, such as environmental fiscal reform, taxes, etc., before the advent of the SDGs.
October 2017Experiences and Governance Mechanisms at the Local and Urban Level for SD and 2030 Agenda Implementation (by Eric Mulholland & Alessia Bernardo)
 This Quarterly Report (QR) will focus on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030) 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 focused 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. Although the 2030 Agenda attributes responsibility for the implementation of the 17 SDGs to the national level, the local and urban levels have their part to play in the effective implementation of the SDGs. Cities, municipalities, and communities were felt to be so vital to the successful attainment of the SDGs that there is one SDG (SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) that specifically targets the local level, including both the urban and municipal level. SDG 11 is accompanied by a subset of targets, which is further disaggregated into indicators that all levels can use to measure their progress towards this particular SDGs, which can be seen below in Table 1. Municipalities and cities should attempt to address the this SDG, as many of the sub-goals and indicators that cities and municipalities will be addressing with SDG 11 have spill-over effects into other SDGs, such as SDG 8 (good jobs and economic growth) and SDG 13 (climate action). Being able to address many of the other SDGs within this singular SDG, provides municipalities and cities with the opportunity and flexibility to determine how implementation best suits their needs and local contexts.
July 2017The Role of European Parliaments in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs (by Eric Mulholland)
 This Quarterly Report will primarily focus on the role of European national parliaments in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but will also briefly include the European Parliament and the European Commission, as they also play a role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in Europe. This Report will seek to determine what actions parliaments and parliamentarians are taking in order to deal with this ambitious agenda and the highly integrated and interrelated nature of the SDGs. Firstly, this Report will look at the UN level and to the 2030 Agenda document regarding how it sees the role of national parliaments when it comes to implementation and the SDGs. This section will also include the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which works closely with the UN and is made up of parliamentarians from around the world. The IPU has worked with the SDGs and published a report on how parliamentarians can, and should, become involved with the SDGs. This will be covered in more detail in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 of this Report will then centre on the European Union level and focus on how the European Parliament and the European Commission are dealing with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. As the two bodies work very closely with one another, it is very important to see how both institutions are addressing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Chapter 3 of this Report will take a closer look at what European national parliaments are doing regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. A comprehensive table will, therefore, be developed, that documents how national parliaments are involved in the implementation process. Country specific information has been compiled from a survey that was sent out to the National Focal Points (NFPs) of the European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN), where NFPs were asked about their national parliament’s involvement in implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. In order to receive the relevant information from the ESDN’s NFPs, a survey was made and distributed to the NFPs. Based on the information that the NFPs provided, a more in-depth analysis of a few case examples will be chosen to elaborate upon. In addition to the information provided by the NFPs, the same survey was sent to a group of parliamentarians from national parliaments around Europe. The answers from these parliamentarians will also be included in the analysis of European national parliaments.
April 2017Communication and Awareness Raising in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs (by Eric Mulholland, Alessia Bernardo & Gerald Berger)
 This Quarterly Report will focus on communication and awareness raising activities that are being employed regarding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the challenges that are being faced in its effective communication at the UN, national, sub-national, and stakeholder level. This report will be looking specifically at communication and awareness raising activities that go beyond consultation mechanisms, which many countries employ when dealing with and implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs into National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS). For the purposes of this Report, communication and awareness raising will not only focus on what types of communication and awareness raising tools the UN, national, sub-national, and stakeholder levels are using regarding the SDGs, but also how they are using them to spread awareness. Some examples of the tools and activities that will be discussed in this Report include, media campaigns, websites, videos, SDG guides, conferences on sustainable development, workshops, newsletters, educational programs, etc. This Report will, after providing a basic definition of communication and awareness raising activities and tools, focus, firstly, on communication and awareness raising in the 2030 Agenda document itself, in order to determine which stakeholders the 2030 Agenda is addressing and how the UN is trying to communicate and raise awareness for the SDGs among different stakeholder groups. In order for the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs to have the highest possible chance of success, there needs to be in place communication and awareness raising activities that seek to reach as many stakeholders as possible. From there, this Report will shift its focus to look at the national level within Europe, in order to take stock of what countries are doing in terms of communicating and raising awareness for the SDGs. The Report will give an overview of the tools and initiatives that countries are using, in order to illuminate good practices regarding communication and uncover tools that are effective in being able to communicate and raise awareness for the SDGs. From the group of European countries that have something in the way of communication and awareness raising activities and tools, a few countries will be selected for closer inspection on why they employ certain awareness raising activities and how these tools function in enhancing communication and awareness raising. Through analysing different country cases within Europe, it is hoped to be able to showcase interesting strategies that are effective in communicating the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at all levels of government, which includes all stakeholders and civil society, and potentially lead to an enhanced success rate in not only the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, but also its uptake by stakeholders and civil society. In addition to taking stock of the current communication and awareness raising atmosphere in Europe, it is an added goal of this Report, in being able to identify communication and awareness raising initiatives and tools, that countries can learn from one another, communicate further with one another in terms of ideas about different communication and awareness raising tools, in order to facilitate more exchange and to avoid duplication of efforts. Apart from the UN and national levels, this Report will also inspect what different stakeholder groups are currently doing to raise awareness for the SDGs, whom they are targeting, and how they are targeting them. Stakeholder communication and awareness raising is interesting, as stakeholders and stakeholder groups tend to be very familiar with how best to reach members of their communities and interest groups than larger bodies, such as sub-national, national, regional, and international bodies, could be. Communication and awareness raising tools can, therefore, have a more targeted focus upon selected groups of stakeholders, which can elicit a more pronounced response from the target audience. When engaging with the SDGs, it is important to be able to present them to stakeholders in a way that is not only understandable to them, but also applicable. It is, therefore, important for stakeholders to be actively engaged with the SDGs, whether that is business, NGOs, CSO’s, research and academia, and civil society, as they sometimes know how best to make the SDGs approachable and appealing to their audiences. Instead of dedicating a special chapter on the European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW), this Report will briefly mention it here, as it is a communication and awareness raising tool that all levels are welcome to use in promoting the SDGs, meaning all European countries, regions and municipalities are involved in the ESDW, as well as stakeholders in encouraging people to register events to the ESDW website that have to do with the SDGs. The ESDW is a European-wide initiative to stimulate and make visible activities, projects and events that promote sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It takes place every year from 30 May until 05 June 2017. The European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) is an initiative to facilitate the organization of activities that promote sustainable development and make these efforts visible on a common platform. The ESDW contributes to this ambitious, universal and transformative agenda by promoting the organization of bottom-up activities that have a thematic link to and support the SDGs. As such, the ESDW aims to raise awareness for the 2030 Agenda in Europe and calls upon local stakeholders to actively engage with sustainable development, in general, and the SDGs, in particular. At the end of this Report, we provide some conclusions about communication and awareness raising tools for achieving the 2030 Agenda and SDGs that are applied at the national and stakeholder level.
January 2017Multi-level governance and vertical policy integration (by Eric Mulholland & Gerald Berger)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report will focus on multi-level governance and vertical policy integration in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels of government. However, before arriving at the main theme, this Report will broadly discuss governance for sustainable development, as multi-level governance and vertical policy integration, while of vital importance in themselves, are pieces of the entire concept of governance for sustainable development. The Report will examine the literature available, in order to discern what governance for sustainable development, multi-level governance, and vertical policy integration are, and how they can be used in relation to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Also of importance, to better understand the role of vertical policy integration in the implementation of Agenda 2030, is not only to grasp how to integrate policy across different levels of government (local, sub-national, national, and supranational), with sometimes conflicting objectives, but also to be aware of the potential pitfalls that contribute to vertical policy integration being ineffective. After arriving at a clearer understanding of multi-level governance and vertical policy integration, this understanding will then be used as a lens to look at how these concepts are framed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and what is happening regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in different European countries. The goal is to determine if, and how, countries have been integrating the 2030 Agenda at all levels of government. Specific attention will be given to countries that participated at the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2016 and submitted Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), since they have already prepared and presented, in-depth, about their efforts in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Since the HLPF 2016 took place in July 2016 many of the presenting European countries have integrated, or are working on integrating, the targets of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs into their National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS). This report will look into the NSDSs of various countries, in order to examine how they are dealing with the vertical integration of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at the sub-national and local level. Based on the outcomes of interactive group work with participants of the ESDN Conference 2016, the Report will, in a concluding section, list important ingredients for successful vertical policy integration for the 2030 Agenda implementation.
October 2016Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD and the SDGs in Europe (by Umberto Pisano, Eric Mulholland and Gerald Berger)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report 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.
July 2016Stakeholders activities in support of the 2030 Agenda for SD and the SDGs implementation (by Umberto Pisano and Gerald Berger)
 In the context of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this ESDN Quarterly Report tries to provide a picture of the extremely variegated, wide and multi-faceted world of stakeholders, other organisations and local initiatives that are relating to the 2030 Agenda. With the intention to understand how different actors are contributing to and supporting the 2030 Agenda implementation, the report looks into a selected number of examples from civil society organisations, business, research, and local initiatives to present what these different experiences and initiatives are bringing into the debate, especially in connection to the implementation aspects of this crucial new sustainable development agenda. We explore these issues throughout this quarterly report, which has the following structure: Chapter one provides an overview of the UN framework for the 2030 Agenda and SDGs implementation and looks at crucial links to other major initiatives at UN level that are connected to this framework. Chapter two provides an overview on how selected stakeholders are contributing to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD and SDGs. Although the chapter does not aim to provide a comprehensive overview on stakeholder efforts, we offer a glimpse on selected stakeholder activities in the context of the 2030 Agenda from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the business world, and research. Chapter three reports about the experiences of the European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) that is a European-wide initiative that aims to stimulate and make visible activities, projects and events that promote sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Chapter four concludes and provides several reflections on the topic.
April 2016Exploring Peer Learning to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD (by Umberto Pisano and Gerald Berger)
 In the context of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this ESDN Quarterly Report focuses on the topic of peer learning applied in policy-making, and how is related to practices of governance for sustainable development. In this context, the report aims to support national policy-makers in their challenging job of implementing the 2030 Agenda. In addition, the ESDN is aiming to establish a peer learning mechanism for national policy-makers who are responsible for the 2030 Agenda/SDG implementation and the stakeholders involved in this process. One important cornerstone of this mechanism will be the yearly ESDN Peer Learning Platform (the first one in autumn 2016) that will offer policy-makers from all European countries and selected stakeholders the chance to exchange experiences and learn from implementation practice. We see ‘peer learning’ as an umbrella concept that encompasses a number of different mechanisms or instruments that support ‘learning’ from and with peers with regard to policies, in our case related to sustainable development. But, what exactly is a ‘peer’? Who are the peers in this context? Why is ‘peer learning’ key to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD? And is peer learning connected to policy learning? We explore these and many other questions throughout this report, which has the following structure: Chapter 1 defines peer learning in the context of policies for sustainable development and, more specifically, in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Chapter 2 provides an overview of practical approaches of peer learning and peer review. Firstly, the international level is explored through an overview of UN and OECD practices that relate to reviews potentially leading to peer learning. Secondly, we present the experiences made in Europe, especially in relation to peer reviews of National Sustainable Development Strategies that several European countries have voluntarily undertaken. We particularly focus on the German experience as the only country in Europe that has launched a Peer Review of its SD Strategy twice, in 2009 and 2013. Chapter 3 concludes and provides several reflections on the topic. This ESDN Quarterly Report is also one of the background documents for the 14th ESDN Workshop on Peer Learning.
December 2015The 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.
October 2015The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (by Umberto Pisano, Lisa Lange and Gerald Berger)
 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 will put 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 will then describe 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 will then investigate 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 treated in the Quarterly Report.
July 2015The European context for monitoring and reviewing SDGs (by Umberto Pisano. Lisa Lange, Katrin Lepuschitz and Gerald Berger)
 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.
April 2015Social Innovation in Europe (by Umberto Pisano, Lisa Lange and Gerald Berger)
 Social Innovation is very high on the political agenda, not only as new way of addressing social issues often overlooked either by the private sector or the public sector, but also as a chance to respond to the multiple social, economic and environmental crises that are faced by societies all over the world. In Europe, austerity, budget cuts, unemployment, ageing, migration, and climate change are only a few of the many issues that can be cited as examples of the effects of such crises. Whereas the public sector is often having difficulties to address such challenging issues adequately, the business sector often does not find it profitable to address those issues. Therefore, civil society and individual citizens are often attempting to react and to seek new ways through ‘social innovation’ and, thus, new structures, hybrid organisations or a multitude of attempts across sectors are on the rise. Despite this strong involvement of civil society, and the fact that citizen engagement should be seen as a constant of social innovation policies and activities, social innovation can emerge from any sector. In general, the link between social innovation and the sustainable development agenda and policies is very apparent, especially with regards to social and equity issues. In this Quarterly Report (QR), our intention is to understand and showcase the main initiatives and activities undertaken at the EU level, and present several examples that help to understand how social innovation works in practice. This QR comprises four chapters: The first chapter defines the concept of social innovation, also focusing on the role of social entrepreneurship in the context of the social innovation discourse. The second chapter provides an outlook on the policy activities that are happening in the European Union. In the third chapter, we portray three practical experiences of social innovation that are able to explain of what social innovation is all about. The report concludes by summarising the main topics treated in the previous chapters so as to offer several considerations that can guide the reader in reflecting deeper on the topic.
January 2015The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their impact on the European SD governance framework (by Umberto Pisano, Lisa Lange, Gerald Berger and Markus Hametner)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report is devoted to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the broader context of the post-2015 agenda, with the main focus on the impact that such a process is having and will have on the European SD governance framework and, hence, on EU Member States. The first chapter of the report gives an overview of the post-2015 agenda in the context of sustainable development, providing the current status of the process, its timeline, and the governance challenges and opportunities for implementing SDGs at the European level. In the second chapter, we provide an analysis of how the European Union’s SD goals and targets relate to the targets included in the list of the zero draft of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, we offer a picture of how the EU is doing in those areas and issues highlighted by the SDGs. By referring to and using the EU SD Indicators Framework developed by Eurostat, we present the main differences and commonalities between the two frameworks: the SDGs and targets, and the European SD Indicators. The third chapter presents a comparative overview of national activities on SDGs put in place and expected in Europe in the context of the post-2015 agenda. It summarizes the results from a survey the ESDN Office undertook among SD policy-makers in European countries, mainly focusing on the following three main areas: (i) the process (before and after September 2015); (ii) the foreseen implementation phase; and (iii) the governance mechanisms. The fourth and final chapter describes the key topics, relevant discussions and main results of the ESDN Conference 2014held in Rome in November 2014. Entitled, “A renewed policy framework for sustainable development – The international SD agenda and its impact on Europe”, the ESDN Conference mainly reflected on how the UN process impacted the EU and the national level with regards to sustainable development, also considering the role of National SD Strategies in the context of current socio-economic and environmental policy challenges.
October 2014National Sustainable Development Strategies in eight CEE countries (by Katrin Lepuschitz & Gerald Berger)
 In 2014, the Central and Eastern European (CEE) EU Member States celebrate their 10th anniversary of EU Membership. This was reason enough for the ESDN to look into the National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) processes of 8 CEE Member States (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) and what experiences they’ve made since EU accession. The main purpose of this Quarterly Report is thus to explore the impact of the EU accession on the NSDS processes in the CEE countries. In so doing, a comparative stocktaking of NSDS processes in CEEs is provided, based on up-to date information of the ESDN Country Profiles and telephone interviews with policy-makers from national government ministries of the eight countries. This report has the following structure: In chapter one, we provide a general overview of the CEE countries’ socio-economic and environmental situation by comparing the year of their EU accession with the current situation. The second chapter includes a comparative stocktaking of NSDSs processes in the eight CEE countries, based on up-to-date information provided in the country profiles (September 2014) of the ESDN homepage. The last chapter presents the results of the telephone interviews and gives more in-depth insides of structural and procedural NSDS processes of the respective countries. In the conclusions chapter, we summarize the main findings of this Quarterly Report.
July 2014Sustainability transitions at the international, European and national level (by Umberto Pisano, Katrin Lepuschitz & Gerald Berger)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides an overview of the concept sustainability transitions and transformative environmental and sustainability policies and thus deepens the work that started by preparing the 11th ESND Workshop (Berlin, June 25-26, 2014) on the same topic. In general, sustainability transitions take place in the context of ongoing and very lively debates about future aspects of sustainable development on the international level (e.g. Rio+20 follow-up, post-2015 debate and SDGs) and important developments in Europe and on the national level. For example, EU level policy strategies formulate long-term visions for society and include objective for economic, societal and environmental innovations. In addition, several European countries (e.g. Belgium, Finland, France) work towards societal commitments for sustainable development, transformative issues, and long-term perspectives up to 2050 which signal important new angles for sustainable development. In the first chapter of this QR, we provide an overview of the concept of transition/transformation in the context of environmental and sustainability policies. The second chapter looks at sustainability transition activities and initiative on the international and national level, with the aim to better understand the motivation and reasons for initiating a sustainability transition process; the development process; the selection of objectives for achieving transition; inter-ministerial cooperation and stakeholder involvement; and evaluation and monitoring schemes for policy learning. The third chapter includes results from the discussions with delegates at the 11th ESDN Workshop. Finally, the concluding chapter offers several reflections on sustainability transitions.
March 2014The 7th Environment Action Programme (by Andreas Endl & Gerald Berger)
 The main aim of this ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) is to investigate the recently adopted 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) of the European Union, which is the European Union’s main strategy for environmental policy and, in particular, environmental policy integration. In this respect, the 7th EAP builds on existing policy initiatives, such as the Europe 2020 Strategy and the renewed European Sustainable Development Strategy, and aims to tackle environmental challenges which should help achieve long-term sustainable development goals. To this context, this QR provides an analysis to investigate the 7th EAP with respect to the concepts of sustainable development and environmental policy integration.
January 2014Framing Urban Sustainable Development (by Umberto Pisano, Katrin Lepuschitz & Gerald Berger)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides an overview of the concept of urban sustainable development (SD) as well as initiatives and programmes of urban SD on the global and European level. In the first chapter, we approach urban SD from a conceptual point of view and portray the reasoning and the trigger behind this ESDN Quarterly Report. Therefore, we look at terms and concepts, and define the basic understanding of urban SD. We then describe the main features, challenges and potentials that make it easier to narrow down the concept of urban SD. Furthermore, we present a reflection on the necessity of multi-level governance approaches to manage the development and transformation of cities and urban areas towards a more sustainable future. In the second chapter, we guide the reader through several policy initiatives and programmes as well as the main actors that define the arena of urban SD on the global and European level. Therefore, we provide an overview of international and European policy efforts on urban SD and the work of various city networks on this topic. We also review and present several concrete initiatives and institutions engaged in urban sustainability on a global and European level. Finally, we present several city networks, differentiating again between city networks acting on a global and on a European scale. In the closing third chapter, we briefly reflect on the main points touched in the first two chapters and offer several points for discussion, especially for a further elaboration on the topic of urban SD.
October 2013Planetary Boundaries for SD (by Umberto Pisano and Gerald Berger)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides an overview of the planetary boundaries concept and related framework. In addition, it seeks to reflect on possible links between planetary boundaries with sustainable development as well as on chances and opportunities for its approach to be considered by the policy-making world in the context of international governance for sustainable development, but also at the national and regional level. In the first chapter, we provide a comprehensive overview of the concept of ‘planetary boundaries’. Firstly, we look at how the concept has been developed. Secondly, we describe the scientific basis in a very concise way and with the help of several visual and descriptive tools. Finally, we briefly consider the topic in light of the sustainable development discourse, also looking at it from a social and equity perspective. The second chapter provides an overview on the responses that the planetary boundaries framework has received, especially with an eye on the policy-making world. We look at different angles, from the global sphere (such as the United Nations), the supra-national perspective of the European Union, and also the national viewpoints from eight European countries (i.e. Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom), always keeping in mind the sustainable development context. In so doing, we explore whether chances and opportunities can be found, particularly in terms of application and implementation, of the planetary boundaries framework. With this intention, we summarise and present a research study commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), which represents the first attempt to comprehend the feasibility of using planetary boundaries as a framework for understanding national contributions to the transgression of the planetary boundaries. Finally, the concluding chapter presents the main arguments explored in the report and provides several reflections that we consider interesting and potentially stimulating for furthering the planetary boundaries framework’s uptake, especially in the policy-making world.
July 2013National Sustainable Development Strategies in Europe 2013 (by Umberto Pisano, Katrin Lepuschitz & Gerald Berger)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) is based on up-to-date information from the ESDN Country Profiles (updates from May/June 2013) and continues the NSDS stock-taking that has begun with the ESDN Quarterly Report September 2010. It also includes and reflects on the work and debates at the ESDN Conference 2013 on the same topic. The intention behind this QR is to provide an analysis of the situation of National Sustainable Strategies (NSDSs) in Europe. Therefore, we tried to investigate past achievements, explore new developments, identify future challenges, but we also take into consideration the discussions and insights with delegates during the ESDN Conference 2013. As first chapter, a brief introduction is provided with a short overview of the objectives of the report and a few details on the ESDN Conference 2013. The second chapter then introduces the concept of National SD Strategies and gives an extensive background on the notions behind them, especially by exploring what NSDSs represent and their characteristics, by describing their historical development and their relationship with the new framework of Rio+20, and by providing a European perspective and the new context of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The third chapter describes in detail the stock-tacking analysis of European NSDSs. In particular, it investigates the status quo and recent developments in the following aspects of the NSDS processes: 1) Basic information about SD strategies; 2) Mechanisms of vertical integration; 3) Mechanisms of horizontal integration; 4) Evaluation and review; 5) Indicators and monitoring; and, 6) Participation. The information collected for individual countries is based on the information provided in the respective country profiles on the ESDN homepage. In addition, the 2010 September ESDN Quarterly Report - compiled for a similar stock-tacking exercise concerning National Sustainable Development Strategies in Europe in 2010 – has been also used as main reference for this new analysis, including the interviews with national SD coordinators that have been undertaken for the Quarterly Report in the summer 2010. Finally, the fourth chapter presents the main results and reflections from the ESDN Conference 2013 for further discussion.
April 2013The Future of the EU SDS in light of the Rio+20 outcomes (by Umberto Pisano, Andreas Endl & Gerald Berger)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a comprehensive overview on the Rio+20 final outcome text, the EU SDS and the Europe 2020 Strategy and how they relate to each other. In this sense, the comparative analysis presented focuses on objectives, topics and governance mechanisms stressed in these policy documents. The goal of this QR is thus to shed light on similarities and differences between Rio+20 outcomes and important European policy strategies. Moreover, this QR takes into account the discussions and exchanges held among participants at the 9th ESDN Workshop, “The Future of the EU SDS – Expectations and Possible Contributions from the ESDN” that took place in Brussels on 21-22 February 2013 as well as recent policy developments at European level. The QR is divided into five main chapters: The first chapter presents the Rio+20 process and its implementation on the EU level. The second chapter offers a comparative analysis of Rio+20 outcome document and EU policy strategies, including two subchapters that take into consideration, on the one hand, the SD topics in Rio+20 and how the EU policy strategies relate to these topics; on the other hand, special attention is dedicated to governance mechanisms and structures. In the third chapter, we describe those objectives included in the EU SDS of 2006 that have not been achieved yet; and, therefore, we analyze them also in the light of the Europe 2020 Strategy objectives and targets. In the fourth chapter, we consider recent developments at European level, such as the proposal for a 7th EAP and the EU Commission Communication on Rio+20 that was published in February 2013. Finally, as concluding chapter, we provide some interrogatives and points for reflection that aim to stimulate discussion are considered as important for further debates.
December 2012The Financial Sector and Sustainable Development (by Umberto Pisano, André Martinuzzi & Bernulf Bruckner)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) offers insight into the relationships, linkages, and differences between the financial sector and sustainable development. Although we recognise the vastness of the task, which is mainly caused by the complexity of the financial sector, we try to provide an explanatory journey and a fertile environment for further reflections and discussions, especially where linkages and differences with sustainable development are portrayed. Despite this complexity, this QR tries to communicate the main financial notions in a language that is as simple as possible, with the intention of avoiding an overload of technicalities. The QR does not aim to be exhaustive, but should uncover those links that are particularly relevant for sustainable development and SD governance. The report is based on the Discussion Paper of the 8th ESDN Workshop, which it expands in all chapters that are also informed by the debates at the workshop and additional desk research.
September 2012Resilience and Sustainable Development (by Umberto Pisano)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a condensed overview of the concept of resilience. Despite the complexity of the theory behind resilience, this QR tries to communicate the main notions behind this concept in a way that is understandable and not overly technical. The intention of this QR is to serve as a guide through the concept of resilience. The report does not aim at being exhaustive but intends to provide an overview on the links which are particularly relevant for sustainable development (SD) in general and SD governance in particular. A multitude of diverse sources have been used, mainly from the academic literature. It has to be mentioned the significant and decisive role that the Resilience Alliance has in providing extensive knowledge: the website that they are running, is an exceptionally good source of information for those who are interested and want to deepen their knowledge of resilience. Additionally, among all the scientific publications cited throughout the report, a special mention goes to the book by Walker and Salt (2006) entitled “Resilience thinking: sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world”, which is very much suggested as a practical source of information on resilience.
June 2012The Rio+20 Conference 2012 (by Umberto Pisano, Andreas Endl & Gerald Berger)
 Being published soon after the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 (Rio+20) that took place on 20-22 June 2012, this ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a comprehensive overview of the road to the Rio+20 and what the outcomes the conference produced. The introductory chapter of this QR provides an overview about the concept of global sustainable development (SD) governance and its links with the UN system as well as the large array of actors that are involved in it. In the second chapter, a brief history of the various UN environmental and SD mega-conferences is portrayed. This will provide an extensive background and will help to understand the background for the Rio+20 Conference. The third chapter summarizes what happened in the negotiations prior to Rio+20 and how the conference came into form, its objectives and the main two themes taken into consideration: firstly, a green economy in the context of SD and poverty eradication; and, secondly, the institutional framework for SD. These two themes are substantially analysed and described. In addition, a thorough examination of the development process of an international set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is included in this chapter. Additionally, a particular focus has been devoted to the European Union and its position toward SD, especially in the context of the Rio+20 Conference. The report then offers a dedicated and meticulous analysis of the text of the final Rio+20 outcome document, entitled “The future we want”, where a number of interesting reflections are suggested. Additionally, an unusual analysis of the outcome document is proposed; known as word-cloud analysis, the outcome document of Rio+20 is compared with the ‘Zero draft’ document (January 2012), the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (2002) and of the ‘Rio declaration’ (1992). Finally, some conclusions and reflections are suggested at the end of the report where we propose an interesting way to understand, assess and judge the conference and its outcomes.
March 2012Renewing the commitment for SD (by Andreas Endl, Gerald Berger, & Michal Sedlacko)
 In the light of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 (Rio+20), this ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a comprehensive overview on precedent international and European policy documents that include objectives on how to achieve sustainable development. As part of the preparation for Rio+20, the development of a global set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could assist in focusing the broad international sustainable development agenda at a practical level. Thus, in answering the recent development on SDGs, the QR investigates trends on identified SDGs among international and European SD policy documents and their link to two recent Rio+20 proposals for SDG sets. With regard to SDGs, among international SD declarations, such as the Stockholm 1972, Rio de Janeiro 1992 and Johannesburg 2002 declaration, an important evolution took place: the dominance of SDGs related to fundamental human rights, economic development and socio-economic development increased over time 'at the expense' of SDGs related to environmental issues. Furthermore, SDGs originating from Rio+20 proposals are well addressed by similar or identical counterparts in the most important international policy documents over the last 40 years. The acceptance and agreement on these SDGs as a common ground of discussion could act as a catalyst for further negotiations on time-bound and measurable targets. This step will be a critical challenge as well as opportunity to further spur effective implementation of a sustainable development agenda. The introductory chapter of this QR gives an overview about the historical development, the concepts and models related to sustainable development. In the second chapter, the relevance of SDGs as well as their importance in the process of political agenda setting is discussed. The third section summarizes international SD declarations with regard to 1) the context of their development, 2) the actors and institutions involved in the process of delivering the document, 3) the political commitment attributed towards the identified SDGs, and 4) associated frameworks for implementation. In this regard, a comprehensive comparative analysis is conducted in order to reveal the evolution of already existing SDGs and SDGs developed through recent Rio+20 proposal. Some conclusions and highlights of the analysis are presented at the end of the report.
December 2011The New Communication of the EU Commission on CSR and National CSR strategies (by André Martinuzzi, Barbara Krumay & Umberto Pisano)
 This Quarterly Report refers to recent developments concerning Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As the European Commission published a new Communication on CSR in late October 2011, this important policy document will be presented and discussed with policy makers from DG Enterprise and DG Employment in the first part of this report. As a part of this communication, the Commission asks the European Member states to develop or review their national CSR strategy or action plan. During the last months, we collected and analyzed these policy documents, not only of EU Member States, but also of countries outside the EU. The results will be presented in the second part of this report, where you can find comprehensive overviews as well as three case studies of outstanding approaches (Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands). Our aim is to demonstrate the innovative and diverse roles of CSR strategies, action plans, and frameworks in Europe and beyond. Chapter one of this report starts with a general introduction to CSR, describes recent facts and figures on CSR, and presents different approaches to national CSR policies. Chapter two highlights the key elements of the new EU Communication on CSR and compares them to the previous Communication of 2006. Two interviews with leading policy makers in the area of CSR show insights into the perspectives of the European Commission. We talked to Tom Dodd (DG Enterprise and Industry) who was one of the key actors in preparing the new Communication, and Sue Bird (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) who is in charge of co-ordinating the CSR High Level Group, a network of national representatives that plays an important role in policy learning on CSR in Europe. Chapter three starts with a short introduction into national CSR strategies, action plans or frameworks, and presents an in depth analysis of policy instruments, governance structures, and indicators used. Three interesting cases are presented in detail, which may serve as role models for other countries. In a concluding chapter, we summarize the information presented and provide further ideas how national CSR strategies, action plans, or frameworks may influence the whole CSR discussion in the future.
September 2011SD governance and policies (by Umberto Pisano, Gerald Berger, Andreas Endl & Michal Sedlacko)
 This Quarterly Report (QR) provides an overview and analysis of sustainable development (SD) governance and policies at the EU and Member States level. Currently, the framework for SD governance and policy in the European Union is in a state of change. On the one hand, the EU SDS of 2006 requires the European Council in 2011 to decide "when a comprehensive review of the EU SDS needs to be launched" (para 45); a decision on the review will also influence the future of the EU SDS. On the other hand, SD issues and targets are increasingly included in other important EU policy strategies, most notably in the Europe 2020 strategy as well as the flagship initiative, "A resource-efficient Europe" (2011), and its Roadmap that was published on 20 September 2011. Additionally, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) will focus as one of its major themes on the institutional framework for SD and issues of SD governance, including SD strategy processes at the national level. All these recent developments call for a reflection on how SD governance and policies can be best addressed in current EU policy strategies and in preparation to the Rio+20 conference.
June 2011Innovation and sustainable development (by Nisida Gjoksi)
 The main challenge towards the transition to greener, cleaner and more equitable economic growth is to address innovation not only from an economic, but also from a social and environmental dimension. The interface between innovation and sustainable development is difficult to capture, as both are horizontal policy fields, sharing facets with each other and with other policy areas. Various paradigms in research and policy have shaped the directions of innovation, based on the prevailing economic goals in policies, institutional arrangements, and societal values. For centuries, the concept of innovation has been primarily related to economic issues, but environmental and societal pressures have spurred the rethinking of innovations in the context of sustainable development. In the political arena, increasingly stringent economic competition, unequal access to scarce natural resources, an aging workforce and environmental degradation have motivated European institutions to go beyond a traditional understanding of innovation, which focuses mostly on technological solutions and scientific innovation linked to market developments. New innovation concepts such as "eco-innovation", "social innovation", "open innovation", or institutional, governance and organisational innovation are increasingly regarded as a "window of opportunity" for the markets and society to move towards societal progress with an equal, low-carbon and knowledge economy. As innovations are regarded as a means towards this transition, an integrated perspective between social, economic and environmental dimensions should be held in the centre of attention. This report therefore aims to frame the discussion on innovation and sustainable development by outlining various recent concepts, approaches and paradigms, as well as assessing recent European initiatives and some examples of good practices at the national level, in the understanding and vision of innovation. This Quarterly Report (QR) is divided into four chapters. The first chapter includes a reflection on the various paradigms related to innovation in the political and scientific debates. It also introduces a definition of innovation and related concepts to be found in individual initiatives presented in the second and third chapters (such as eco-efficiency, circular economy, life-cycle approach, dematerialisation and decoupling) and outlines why innovation is currently on the political agenda. The second chapter shortly outlines the European 2020 flagship initiative Innovation Union and the approach it takes to integrate the environmental, economic and social dimensions of innovation for sustainable development. The third chapter highlights some of the recent innovation initiatives on the Member-State level (Finland, France, Germany and the Netherlands), focusing on innovation leaders' strategies towards innovation for sustainable development. In the fourth chapter, the report sketches future challenges related to innovation policies which can serve as a basis for further discussions.
March 2011Resource policies in the context of sustainable development (by Nisida Gjoksi & Michal Sedlacko)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) is intended as a first stocktaking of major international and national initiatives related to natural resource policies and management and in particular, resource efficiency, for the forthcoming ESDN Conference 2011 which takes place in Szentendre, Hungary in late June 2011. It would seem that although numerous scientific disciplines achieved a certain understanding of complex interrelations between ecological and socioeconomic systems, a lack of a systemic perspective has been the main cause for the policy for decades failing to ensure sustainable outcomes of natural resource management. In particular in a situation when resource efficiency is regarded as a strategy out of the dilemma of achieving continuous economic growth while decreasing resource use and environmental degradation, an integrated perspective between social, economic and environmental dimensions should be held in the centre of attention. This report therefore aims to frame the discussion on sustainable natural resource management by outlining various recent concepts, approaches and paradigms as well as their implementation at the international and national levels. The report is divided into four chapters. The first chapter includes a reflection on the various paradigms related to natural resource use in the political and scientific debates. It also introduces resource efficiency and related concepts to be found in individual initiatives presented in the second and third chapters (such as eco-efficiency, circular economy, life-cycle approach, dematerialisation and decoupling) and outlines why is resource efficiency back on the political agenda. The second chapter outlines application of these various concepts in the major international initiatives, in particular in the OECD work on sustainable materials management, the UNEP International Panel on Sustainable Resource Management and the EU activities on resource efficiency (the Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and the Europe 2020 flagship initiative A Resource-Efficient Europe). The third chapter highlights some of the recent developments on the Member-State level, focusing on best practice strategies, action plans and policy tools used to boost efficiency improvement in Austria, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. In the fourth chapter, the report sketches some issues and future challenges related to resource efficiency policies and their measurement which can serve as a basis for further discussion in the forthcoming ESDN Conference.
December 2010The Beyond GDP Debate and Measuring Societal Progress in the Context of Sustainable Development (by Nisida Gjoksi & Michal Sedlacko)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) is a direct follow-up of the 6th ESDN Workshop in Berlin in early December 2010. It provides an overview of the various measurement approaches in the current “beyond GDP” debate that aim at measuring societal progress with more comprehensive indicators than the economic progress-oriented approaches. The aim of the QR report is to provide an overview of the debate at the conceptual and political level in the measurement initiatives in going “beyond GDP” as well as to outline the challenges ahead in the reforms towards measuring social progress. The QR is mainly based on the ESDN Case Studies No.3 and No.4, the background paper and discussions at the 6th ESDN Workshop in Berlin in December 2010 as well as the report summarising the debates at the workshop. The QR is sub-divided in three sections: The first section includes a reflection on the different concepts, such as quality of life and well-being, welfare, environmental wealth and their different underlying measurement frameworks in measuring societal progress. It introduces Herman Daly’s Sustainability Triangle as a conceptual framework for demonstrating the relationship of these approaches from a more systemic perspective. The second section provides a comparative analysis of concrete international and national initiatives of government authorities and international organizations in measuring welfare and well-being in the context of the “beyond GDP” debate. The third section outlines three identified challenges at the academic, measurement as well as at the political level in introducing reforms in measuring welfare and societal progress, based on discussions during the 6th ESDN Workshop in Berlin on “Reforms for Measuring Welfare and Wealth in the Context of Sustainable Development”. The identified challenges are: firstly, the development of a “new economics” model; secondly, the implementation gap between new measurement approaches and their translation into political actions; thirdly, the challenges of choosing a set of indicators which best integrates information on quality of life, welfare and sustainable development and which can at the political level compete with GDP.
September 2010National Sustainable Development Strategies in Europe (by Nisida Gjoksi, Michal Sedlacko & Gerald Berger)
 The Quarterly Report (QR) of September 2010 provides a comprehensive update on National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDSs) of 29 European countries (27 EU Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland). The introductory chapter gives a general overview of NSDS processes, objectives and differences between countries. In the second chapter, the status quo and recent developments in NSDSs will be described and analysed along several aspects, including (a) basic information and institutional anchoring of NSDSs, (b) vertical policy coordination mechanisms, (c) horizontal policy coordination mechanisms, (d) evaluation and review, (e) monitoring and indicators, and (f) participation and consultation processes. Moreover, institution-building and mainstreaming of sustainable development through NSDSs will be reflected upon in a separate chapter. Finally, the QR presents some potential effects of NSDSs. Information for this comprehensive update is based on telephone interviews with NSDS coordinators, the ESDN country profiles and NSDS documents.
June 2010Research and development for sustainable development (by Markus Hametner, André Martinuzzi, Michal Sedlacko, Nisida Gjoksi & Andreas Endl)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) focuses on the role and potential contribution of research and technological development (R&D) in relation to sustainable development (SD). The first section explores selected issues related to science, knowledge, policy making and sustainability. By doing so, it takes a look at the history of the relationships between environmentalism, science and policy making, investigates the role science plays in evidence-based decision making, and describes the characteristics of sustainability science. The second part of this QR presents some main results as regards how research funded with the EU’s seventh framework programme (FP7) contributes to the key challenges and operational objectives outlined in the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS). It is based on the monitoring system that has been recently set up by DG Research. The third section aims at providing an overview of how research and development (R&D) targets are being addressed in National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS) of EU Member States. The QR is concluded by outlining the attempts of two countries (Germany and Austria) in compiling and funding national research programmes for sustainable development.
March 2010Futures studies in the governance for sustainable development (by Michal Sedlacko & Nisida Gjoksi)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report focuses on the potential contribution of future studies and their analytical tools (foresight and scenarios) to governance for sustainable development (SD). Sustainable development is associated with a difficult multi-scale and multi-level transition requiring a long-term vision of the future and new approaches and tools to realise that vision. The examples offered in this report intend to show national- and international-level initiatives where futures studies have been employed successfully and integrated in the policy-making process, and we suggest that these tools are well-capable of supporting governance for SD. In the first section the challenges for governance for SD are explored, and on this basis key features of governance for SD (interactionism, pluralism, reflexivity, long-term orientation, holistic approach) are identified. Following this several types of tools supporting a strategic approach to SD are highlighted. The second section focuses on futures studies (particularly visioning, foresight and scenario planning) and their placement in policy planning and strategic management processes in more detail. It describes the processes of foresight and scenario planning and identifies some of the conditions necessary for successful deployment of these tools. The third section offers an analysis of several case studies (national foresight programmes and horizon scans in the UK and the Netherlands, Belgian Federal Reports on SD, the report Getting Into the Right Lane for EU 2050, Environmental Outlooks of both the OECD and UNEP) of the application of futures studies. It focuses especially on the institutional embedding of these processes and their integration into the policy cycle. The conclusions specifically attempt to show how futures studies can support governance for SD.
December 2009Sustainable development and economic growth (by Michal Sedlacko & Nisida Gjoksi)
 This Quarterly Report (QR) focuses on the linkages between sustainable development and economic growth from a conceptual perspective and provides reflections of these concepts in the strategies, initiatives and other exploratory events at the international, European Union and national level. The QR is subdivided into four parts. After outlining the historical development of the growth debate and its linkages to the sustainable development process, the current paradigms and the divergences between mainstream economics and ecological economics are presented in the first part. In the second part, the QR presents the manifestation of these concepts in the current Lisbon and European Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS). The third part provides an overview of strategies, initiatives and events at international level, specifically from international institution (UN and OECD), the EU institutions and initiatives in the EU Member States (France, UK, Ireland and Austria) and of selected Green Parties in Europe. For each strategy or initiative, the QR provides background information, lists objectives and topics covered, and gives information on the coverage of specific topics such as sustainable consumption, knowledge and innovation, employment and education. The overview on strategies and initiatives also includes information on responsible institutions and on implementation tools and shows follow-up measures for the future. Finally, the QR presents some concluding remarks on similarities and differences between these strategies and initiatives in their understanding of economic growth and sustainable development.
September 2009Sustainable development strategies beyond Europe (by Gerald Berger & Nisida Gjoksi)
 This Quarterly Report (QR) focuses on sustainable development strategies beyond Europe in order to provide an overview of strategic policy documents for sustainable development in countries of various world regions. After outlining some basic international developments with regard to national sustainable development strategies (NSDSs) and different types of NSDSs, the QR provides an overview of selected sustainable development strategies of countries in the Asian & Pacific region, South and Latin America & the Caribbean, North America and the non-European Mediterranean region. In total, 16 countries and two regional cooperations (Pacific Islands Forum, Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development) are covered in the QR. For each country, the QR provides background information, lists the objectives and topics of the sustainable development strategy, includes information on responsible institutions and on implementation processes, and shows how efforts of strategy delivery are monitored and evaluated. Finally, the QR presents some concluding remarks on similarities and differences among these countries and regions.
June 2009Horizontal Policy Integration and Sustainable Development (by Gerald Berger & Reinhard Steurer)
 Horizontal policy integration in the context of sustainable development (SD) is commonly understood as balancing economic, social and environmental interests and policies in a way that trade-offs (or negative effects) between them are minimised and synergies (or win-win-win opportunities) maximised. This ESDN Quarterly Report explores the meaning of horizontal policy integration in the context of SD, it highlights in how far the functioning of public administrations stand in the way of meeting this governance challenge adequately, and what governments do to overcome these barriers. It briefly characterises selected strategic instruments (e.g. SD strategies, departmental action plans, impact assessments, etc) and institutional structures (e.g. inter-departmental committees, national SD councils) that aim to foster horizontal policy integration. The report concludes that addressing horizontal policy integration adequately requires not only an update of existing SD strategies or the launch of more inter-ministerial institutions. It would require a more holistic approach of ‘Strategic Public Management’ that reforms the functioning of the public sector in more fundamental ways. As the New Public Management movement (geared mainly towards efficiency gains) has shown, this is an ambitious but not an impossible task.
March 2009Involvement of sub-national authorities in National Sustainable Development Strategy processes (by Gerald Berger & Michal Sedlacko)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) focuses on the involvement of sub-national authorities (i.e. regions and municipalities) in the various processes related to National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDSs). After outlining some general aspects of strategic public management of NSDSs and vertical integration, this QR presents an overview of sub-national involvement in NSDS processes in the EU Member States. The four identified types of sub-national involvement (general consultation processes, national sustainable development councils/commissions and inter-ministerial committees, institutionalised mechanisms for better coordination between national and sub-national levels, links between NSDSs and sub-national sustainable development activities) are then explored in more detailed by describing examples of their application in individual Member States. This is followed by an exploration of general findings of sub-national involvement in NSDS processes and by conclusions and recommendations. Substantive parts of this QR represent a summary of the study Contributions of regional and local authorities to sustainable development strategies which was commissioned by the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and conducted by the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability (RIMAS).
December 2008The Interfaces between the EU SDS and the Lisbon Strategy (by Gerald Berger & Wilhelm Zwirner)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) focuses on the interfaces between the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) and the Lisbon Strategy processes. These two main EU strategies outline important development trajectories, include sustainable development (SD) objectives and define governance structures which have impacts not only on the European, but also on the Member States’ and sub-national levels. Due to the similar timetables of review processes of both strategies and the fact that the Lisbon Strategy will terminate in 2010 make a reflection on their interfaces and the future strategic development of the EU necessary and timely. After a brief outline of two major governance issues in relation to both strategies (policy integration and multi-level governance), the QR provides an overview of the Lisbon Strategy and the EU SDS as well as of the similarities, differences and interfaces of the strategies. This is followed by two scenarios of future strategic development in the EU post-2010. On interfaces and future scenarios, the QR includes topics presented in the keynote speeches and the main issues raised and discussed during the 3rd ESDN Workshop in Brussels in November 2008. Finally, the QR presents the results of a survey among SD coordinators, conducted by the ESDN Office, on the links between the EU SDS and Lisbon Strategy processes on the Member States level.
September 2008Participatory Mechanisms in the Development, Implementation and Review of NSDS (by Wilhelm Zwirner, Gerald Berger & Michal Sedlacko)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) focuses on participatory mechanisms in the development, implementation and review of National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDSs). Generally, public participation is one of the key elements of NSDS processes as it builds a basis for involving various stakeholder groups and aims to link top-down and bottom-up approaches. Viewed from a ‘new governance’ perspective on policy-making, participatory mechanisms are crucial for multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral settings of collaboration to successfully address the challenges of sustainable development (SD). However, practical experiences show that establishing meaningful and effective exchange mechanisms between different stakeholders remains a challenge that needs to be addressed more systematically. This QR attempts to provide an overview of various aspects of participation in policy-making in general and its application in NSDS processes in particular. After a general introduction on public participation in policy-making and SD strategy processes, the QR includes several empirical findings on public participation in NSDS processes. In order to demonstrate how participatory mechanisms are applied in practice in NSDS processes, the QR includes three case studies of experiences made in Austria, Finland and the UK. The empirical findings and the case studies are partly based on a research project on participatory mechanisms in NSDS processes that is commissioned by the German Environment Agency (UBA) and the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and conducted by Ecologic and RIMAS. The project started in December 2007 and will be finished in late 2008 with a final project report. In April 2008, an ESDN workshop on the same topic was organised in Berlin. A full documentation of the workshop, including the workshop report, can be found on the ESDN homepage.
June 2008Public policies on CSR in EU Member States (by Reinhard Steurer, Sharon Margula & Gerald Berger)
 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is ‘a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis’ (European Commission, 2001). Since the European Commission has published a Green Book on the topic in 2001 and a Communication in 2002, CSR has gained significant importance across Europe, also as a new field of public policies. This report describes how EU Member States aim to facilitate CSR by raising awareness, by advancing Sustainable Public Procurement, and by fostering Socially Responsible Investment. It provides a systematic description of CSR policies in Europe. This report is based on a 2-year research project on CSR policies in the EU that was terminated in March 2008. It was commissioned by DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, and conducted by RIMAS, the Institute that operates the ESDN Office. This, the report summarises findings of extensive empirical research, and it draws evidence-based conclusions. Since each of the three studies summarised here is longer than this report, we had to focus on some key findings. The three final reports as well as several PowerPoint presentations delivered to the EU High-Level Group for CSR can be downloaded from the project website at
March 2008The Governance of the Lisbon Process (by Reinhard Steurer, Markus Hametner, Gerald Berger & Ewald Rametsteiner)
 In March 2000, the heads of states of the then 15 EU Member States agreed upon a ten-year development strategy, the so-called “Lisbon Strategy”, with the strategic goal to make Europe “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion” (European Council, 2000, para 5). To achieve this goal, the so-call “Lisbon Process” was launched. In the political discourse, the Lisbon Process and SD strategies are framed as two complementary policy-making processes that both attempt to integrate economic, social and environmental policies, although with different emphases. While previous ESDN Quarterly Reports as well as other parts of the ESDN website explore SD strategies in Europe in detail, this report addresses different aspects of the Lisbon Process. It describes the governance of the Lisbon Process as well as some basic characteristics of Lisbon National Reform Programs. Furthermore, it reviews the coherence of Lisbon indicators used across the EU. Finally, it draws some conclusions on similarities, differences and the relationship between Lisbon National Reform Programmes (NRPs) and SD strategies. Overall, it seems that the coherence of Lisbon NRPs across the EU is not as strong as one might expect due to the prominence of OMC, and that the governance routines of Lisbon and SD strategies in the Member States do not resemble the complementarity rhetoric mentioned above, but run very much in parallel to each other.
December 2007Objectives and Indicators of Sustainable Development in Europe (by Markus Hametner & Reinhard Steurer)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report gives an overview of objectives and indicators of sustainable development (SD) in Europe. It first introduces objectives and indicators as key ingredients of strategic processes in general, and of SD strategies in particular. The report then summarizes some key findings of a study that was commissioned by Eurostat and conducted by RIMAS (operating the ESDN Office) together with the Department of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU) in early 2007. One purpose of the study was to compare objectives and indicators of SD across Europe. The points of reference used for the European comparison were (i) the objectives of the renewed EU SDS from 2006, and (ii) the indicators of the EU Sustainable Development Indicators (SDI) framework from 2005. By using these two points of reference, both the study and this report provide a comprehensive picture of how coherent objectives and indicators of SD are across Europe.
September 2007Strategic Approaches to Climate Change in Europe (by Gerald Berger, Markus Hametner & Reinhard Steurer)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report provides an overview of strategic approaches to climate change in Europe. It is a very topical issue because the debate about climate change has constantly increased over the last years and has led to the formulation of policies that try to reduce manmade greenhouse gases (GHG). As climate change mitigation cuts not only across many policy fields (e.g. energy, transport, industry, agriculture, waste, etc.) but also involves long-term planning, strategic policy approaches play an important role. First, the report introduces some key scientific reports on climate change that inform political action and briefly portrays the UN climate change regime (UNFCCC and Kyoto). Second, it describes the EU’s climate change approach and the latest Greenhouse Gas emission trends, suggesting that significant additional efforts are needed in numerous countries if the EU-15 want to meet their Kyoto reduction target of -8%. Based on a comprehensive review of all SD strategies in the EU-27 and other European countries, the report then gives a complete picture of climate change policy objectives and indicators in the context of SD strategies. Fourth, the report provides a list of climate change strategies in Europe, complemented with a portrait of the climate strategies of Sweden and the UK – two EU-15 countries that have the best climate policy performance with respect to their Kyoto emission reduction targets.
June 2007Sustainability Impact Assessment (by Gerald Berger)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) focuses on sustainability impact assessments (SIAs) in Europe. Generally speaking, impact assessments (IAs) address governance challenges like informed (or knowledge-based) decision-making, policy integration, improved strategic management, transparency and stakeholder participation. The growing acceptance of sustainable development (SD) as an overarching guiding principle for policy-making stimulated the use of IAs in order to evaluate the impacts of (cross-)sectoral policies regarding SD. This QR will first provide a definition and overview of different IA approaches. Second, it will describe the integrated IA method developed and applied by the European Commission. Finally, two case studies on Switzerland and Belgium will show how IAs are applied to national policy-making.
March 2007The EU SDS Process in the Member States (by Gerald Berger & Reinhard Steurer)
 The report follows up on the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) which was adopted by the European Council in June 2006. It focuses on recently established governance arrangements that help to implement the renewed EU SDS at the Member State level . By focussing on the European Commission and the practices in five EU Member States (Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and the UK) the report describes in particular the appointment and the roles of the SDS Coordinators and the biannual progress reporting from Member States as well as the European Commission. The report also provides a reflection of the support the ESDN could offer to the SDS Coordinators in terms of exchanging experiences and sharing information, and it highlights that the EU SDS process increasingly resembles the so-called Open Method of Coordination/OMC.
December 2006The Finnish NCSD and the UK SDC (by Gerald Berger & Reinhard Steurer)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report complements the overview of participatory arrangements provided in the country profile section of this website. It addresses the role of National Councils for SD (NCSD) as a key mechanism of involving different stakeholder groups in SD policy making. After a brief introduction it describes two distinct models of stakeholder involvement, namely: (i) The Finnish National Commission on SD (FNCSD) and (ii) The upgraded UK Sustainable Development Commission (SDC). While the FNCSD applies a partnership model that brings government officials, businesses and civil society organisations together in one organisation, the SDC is an independent ‘watchdog’ and advisory body involving different stakeholders. Based on the description of the two models of stakeholder involvement, the Report tries to summarize some of their key characteristics.
September 2006Evaluation and Review of NSDS (by Gerald Berger & Reinhard Steurer)
 This ESDN Quarterly Report gives an overview of different approaches in the evaluation and review of National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS) in Europe. In so doing, it concentrates on qualitative evaluations and reviews that assess the quality of process-related aspects of SD strategies, such as policy-making processes, policy instruments, implementation procedures, stakeholder involvement, coordination activities, etc. Taking the relevant presentations and discussions at the ESDN Conference 2006 in Salzburg into account, the report provides further details about evaluation and reviewing experiences made in Austria, France, Switzerland and the UK. It summarizes the different approaches by discussing their strengths and weaknesses.
May 2006The EU SDS process (by Ursula Kopp)
 This report gives a basic introduction to the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) process launched in 2001, its connections to the related Cardiff and Lisbon processes and the revision of the EU SDS between 2004 and 2006. Since the renewed EU SDS has been adopted by the Brussels European Council at June 15-16, 2006, this updated report also summarizes some key features of the renewed EU SDS mainly focussing on those parts in which the EU SDS refers explicitly to policy making at the Member State (MS) level. Reactions of important stakeholder groups and links to relevant documents and events (such as public hearings on the EU SDS) are provided at the end of the report.


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