Catalonia approves 2030 Agenda Plan

The Catalan government has approved the National Plan for the 2030 Agenda in Catalonia. The Plan was prepared under the auspices of the Advisory Council for the Sustainable Development of Catalonia, together with the participation of the 13 departments of the Generalitat.

The plan includes 696 unique commitments, reflecting the broad nature of the UN 2030 Agenda and the plan. Of the 920 commitments, 810 are focused on Catalonia and 110 are actions managed from Catalonia that will have a worldwide impact, strengthening the commitment with the international community to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs on a global scale. Read More (in Catalan)

EEAC Annual Plan 2020

The EEAC Network published it’s Annual Plan 2020 on January 24th 2020. The Network aims to enrich the advice that individual advisory bodies can give to their governments and parliaments, to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and policy making and to connect the work of the (sub)national councils and the European policy level with regard to climate change, the environment and sustainable development. To achieve these aims, the board of the EEAC Network presents an Annual Plan. The Plan is a framework for action. Including, a list of thematic areas of common interest; proposed exchange and activities as well as an overview of the tentative agendas of the EEAC member bodies. Click here to read more

Out now: working session outcome letter

The EEAC Working Group on Fresh Water Affairs met online with other stakeholders to discuss the outcomes and possible consequences of the recent EU Water Directives fitness check. These Directives are crucial tools for achieving the goals set out by the European Commission in the Green Deal, and are to be considered important pillars to achieve the SDGs, especially SDGs 6, 14 and 15. Hans Stielstra (European Commission, DG Environment) guided the participants through the fitness check and its outcomes. Possible consequences of the fitness check for the work ahead were debated among all participants. In his session outcome letter, Jan Verheeke (Chairman of the EEAC Working Group on Fresh Water Affairs) wishes to share the main observations and findings of our gathering. Click here to read the session outcome letter.

Latest publication: Towards a sustainable economy

Climate change, raw materials scarcity and loss of biodiversity make the transition to a sustainable economy inevitable. To ensure a smooth transition the government must provide greater direction, and this should be based on a guiding vision that gives primacy to the pursuit of well-being – a broad concept of prosperity and welfare. This is the conclusion of the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure’s advisory report ‘Towards a Sustainable Economy: The governance of transitions’.

Sustainable economy requires a vision based on well-being

The Dutch government has set ambitious goals for sustainability for both the short and long term, such as a 49% CO2 emissions reduction by 2030 and a fully circular economy by 2050. But there is no coherent vision of what a sustainable society will look like, nor a roadmap for getting there. Such a vision should make the connection between economic, social and economic objectives. In view of the limits to growth that the earth sets on our current economic system, this vision should be based on a broad concept of well-being which goes beyond material prosperity to include aspects such as health and quality of life. Furthermore, creating this vision as advocated by the Council is not a one-off exercise, but a gradual process.

The government must strike a balance between old and new

The government wants the transition to a sustainable economy to inflict the least possible damage on society and rightly attaches importance to striking a balance between maintaining the existing economic structures and fostering structural change. However, the Council notes that, in practice, too often the source of economic renewal is sought within the existing economic system, and that this can hamper progress towards the sustainability targets as well as depress long-term national economic prospects. Right from the start of the transition, therefore, the government should pay more attention to phasing out particular economic activities wherever necessary. This will require not just a sector-by-sector approach to sustainability, but also a macroeconomic perspective on a sustainable economy as a whole. Moreover, existing legislation and institutional structures – which includes the government itself – favour established parties and interests over innovative newcomers wanting to enter the market.

The government should be more willing to regulate and adopt pricing measures

During transitions, the government is reluctant to use the effective instruments of pricing and regulation to get producers and consumers to embrace sustainability. This is particularly the case for internationally operating industries. The Council concludes that because these instruments are so effective they should be used sooner and more often in the transition process. In the Council’s view, the argument that sustainability harms international competitiveness is used selectively to avoid introducing appropriate measures, which can lead to unnecessary delays.

Click here to read the report


Save the date: NESC to host the 28th EEAC Annual Conference ‘Delivering a Just Transition for All’ Dublin, October 29th, 2020

Hosted by the Irish National Economic and Social Council, the European network of advisory councils on environment and sustainable development (EEAC Network) will hold its Annual Conference in Dublin on the 29th October 2020, ‘Delivering a Just Transition for All: Principles, Policies and Practice.’

The 28th Annual Conference of EEAC Network will focus on how principles of justice, fairness, equality and equity of a just transition can act as a lever and guide to shape policies and practices to deliver the transformation.

With no single definition or blueprint for action, this conference provides a timely forum for Irish and European colleagues to share perspectives, experiences and practices and develop a common understanding and concrete strategies for making progress.

The conference aims to shed light on how other countries are managing the transition process, with special attention paid to managing the impacts of climate policy that might disproportionately impact specific groups in society. This is required because transitions represent enormous challenges and the ambition of the 2030 Agenda states that no one should be left behind.

This unique gathering in Dublin Castle will bring together European and Irish Advisory Councils, their stakeholders, international experts, policy makers and practitioners to reflect on what a just transition means and how it is shaping policy and practice. Read More



Two advisory bodies have joined EEAC Network on Junuary 1st, 2020

The EEAC Network  welcomed two new members on 1 January 2020. Both the Danish Council on Climate Change and the Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development have joined the EEAC Network. In his capacity as Chair of the EEAC Network, Mr Queralt Bassa welcomed the two advisory bodies by stating that he looks forward to peer-exchange and informed deliberation with colleagues from Denmark and Finland, ‘in order to mutually strengthen the advice that we give to our governments and parliaments’.

The Danish Council on Climate Change advises on the most effective and cost-efficient ways for Denmark to undertake the transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050. The council is engaged in working with all aspects of the transition to a low-carbon society. Its work therefore includes issues concerning the areas of energy, buildings, transport, agriculture, the environment, nature and the economy. In order to tackle this major task, the Danish Council on Climate Change is composed of experts with knowledge of the various areas. Read more about the Danish Council on Climate Change.

The Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development supports the Finnish Commission for Sustainable Development in order for it to have an impact on decision-making and public discussion by bringing evidence-based understanding. Furthermore, the Panel promotes societal change that considers both the environment and human wellbeing and aims to be the focus of the debate on sustainability. To this end, the Panel is composed of panellists from Finnish universities, research and science institutes. These scientific experts represent many aspects of sustainable development. Read more about the Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development.

Update: Serving the science, society, policy interface for a better world

Serving the science, society, policy interface for a better world: An overview of Advisory Councils on the Environment and for Sustainable Development in Europe.

Implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires multi-layered decision making, multilevel coordination and cooperation with a multitude of stakeholders. In order to arrange an institutionalised gathering of these various stakeholders, it is broadly recognised that advisory councils on the environment and for sustainable development and similar bodies (hereafter ‘advisory councils’) play a significant role.

Advisory councils are – mostly – established by national or regional governments or parliaments. These councils offer independent advice to their respective national and regional governments and parliaments relating to the environment and sustainable development.

To provide interested parties with an updated overview of different advisory bodies on the environment and for sustainable development as st established in the European area, the European network of Advisory Councils on the Environment and for Sustainable Development (EEAC Network) drafted this overview study.

By means of this study, we hope to shed light on the different compositions, governance structures, tasks, mandates and working methods of advisory councils. This overview study is a living document, meaning that the study will be regularly updated. The document is based on open source data and is not intended to provide a complete and exhaustive overview of advisory councils. Rather, it should merely serve as a source of general information and inspiration. an overview of different advisory councils on the environment and for sustainable development as established in the European area

EU MSP sent letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

The members and observers – including the EEAC Network – of the EU Multi-Stakeholder Platform for the implementation of the SDGs sent a letter to Ms von der Leyen congratulating her on taking up her role as President of the European Commission.

In their letter, the Platform members and observers reiterated their call – shared by the European Council and Parliament – for an overarching Sustainable Europe 2030 strategy and implementation plan. In addition, members and observers of the Platform called upon the President of the European Commission to show political leadership in steering the whole-of-Commission approach towards sustainable development. To conclude, the members and observers called for the renewal of the platform’s mandate – expiring at the end of 2019 – to advise the Commission President.

The letter was signed by twenty-seven members and three observers and was sent to the office of the President of the European Commission on Tuesday, 17 December 2019.  Click here to read the full text of the letter.

Out now: European way to a common digital future

Germany should build upon the Green Deal announced by EU Commission President-designate Ms. von der Leyen and work towards a close integration of digital change and sustainability. To this end the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) presents cornerstones of a European way to a common digital future.

In its Policy Paper, WBGU argues that particularly during its presidency of the Council of the EU in 2020, Germany’s Federal Government should work towards a close integration of digital change and the Transformation towards Sustainability. The new EU Parliament and the new European Commission should also pursue this goal, according to WBGU. Read More

Out now: Mainline Summary of the 27th EEAC Annual Conference

The ambition to live well within the boundaries of our planet is an increasingly deep-rooted desire among a growing number of Europeans.  Support of citizens, scientists, entrepreneurs and organized civil society will be essential for embarking on an unprecedented journey of systemic transformation. And this is a journey that the European Union must undertake in order to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

This societal support should be leveraged to create new partnerships and alliances. This is why, at the 27th EEAC Annual Conference partnerships for sustainable development (SDG 17) were the main lens through which we engaged with challenges such as the energy transition, fresh water, and the preservation and sustainable use of our seas and oceans.

During the 27th EEAC Annual Conference, national and sub-national advisory councils on the environment and sustainable development met with experts from academia, society and the public sector. This annual gathering of councils and their partners fostered our common European debate on the implementation of the SDGs in Europe.

On the basis of the rich diversity of contributions, a Mainline Summary of the conference is drafted. Click here to read the summary.