Latest publication: Approaches to Transition

This latest paper by the Irish National Economic and Social Council (NESC) is part of the Councils ‘work on transitions and looks in particular at how transitions are approached elsewhere and the range of perspectives at play. The paper reviews the practical tools and conceptual approaches being used to support transition, with particular focus on international experience in  managing downside risks that disproportionately affect specific cohorts of workers or communities. It provides  an improved understanding of the practical ways and strategies that support and build resilience for those most challenged by Ireland’s low-carbon and digital transitions. This paper should be read alongside Council Report No. 149. Read More

One pandemic, numerous lessons and 17 goals that we must not put in lockdown

In a response to the Covid19 crisis that sweep the world, several EEAC member bodies drafted statements or posted blogs. For example, the Luxembourg High Council for Sustainable Development published a statement (FR) in mid-May.  The statement addresses the Government of Luxembourg, and urges to draw lessons from and respond to the Covid-19 crisis and its aftermath. The Council  stresses that no country will be able to emerge from this crisis alone. In the context of Europe Day on 9 May, the Council thus joined the initiative of the EEAC Network, by reiterating the consensus that the pandemic reinforces the need to actively pursue the implementation of the Green Pact for Europe (Green Deal) and Agenda 2030.

Also the Irish National Economic and Social Council are undertaking research to contribute to Ireland’s policy response to Covid19. The Council dedicated a special area on their website where research reports are published. This research work, in normal circumstances, would be used to produce NESC reports, which would be published following detailed deliberation by the Council. By putting it in the public domain earlier, it is hoped this research can help those now working on the response to Covid-19. Learn more

The Council for the Sustainable Development of Catalonia earlier released a statement, entitled ‘One pandemic, numerous lessons and 17 goals that we must not put in lockdown’. In this statement the Council argues that the Covid19 pandemic force us to reinterpret the world and the way we live, and it stresses the need for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the importance to act.

The Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development posted a blog based on the statement issued by the Expert Panel to the Parliament’s Committee for the Future on 25 March 2020 regarding the European Green Deal and the implications of the Covid19 crisis. In the blog, entitled ‘Coronavirus fostering the implementation of the European Green Deal and boosting sustainability transformation’ the Expert Panel touches upon the expected consequences of Covid19 for the European Green Deal and describes how the sustainability transformation should rise from the ashes of the crisis.


The 28th EEAC Annual Conference in the context of Covid19

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic the Irish National Economic and Social Council and the European network of advisory councils on environment and sustainable development (EEAC Network) had planned to hold its Annual Conference in Dublin on the 29th October 2020, ‘Delivering a Just Transition for All: Principles, Policies and Practice.’

The crisis has made this conference more important.  The public health crisis is transforming economies, societies, and the environment in ways that cannot yet be fully understood.  In the face of what is unprecedented change and uncertainty the organizers believe that Just Transition, can and indeed must, provide guidance and practical support to policy makers across Europe. Read More

Now available in English: A Framework for Danish climate policy

A majority of the Danish Parliament (Folketing) has decided that Denmark had to have a new climate act. The aim of such new climate act was to support and steer the Danish transition towards a climate neutral society by the middle of this century. Following this ambition, the Danish Council on Climate Change published a study entitled A Framework for Danish climate policy – input for a new Danish climate act with global perspectives.

The report examines the need for national climate policy goals as well as whether these targets can be considered as being consistent with The Paris Agreement. When Denmark adopted its new climate action on December 6th it appeared that the act coincided with many of the recommendations given by the Danish Council on Climate Change in their report.

Now, the report is available in English with the clear aim to make the observations, analyses and recommendations available for interested parties beyond Denmark.  Click Here to read the report in English

Latest publication: Addressing Employment Vulnerability as Part of a Just Transition

How do you manage a transition to a fundamentally new economic future? This question had been the focus of work at the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) in the months and weeks before Covid-19. The Council’s work focused on how to manage the transition associated with climate change and digital automation.  These challenges will endure beyond the current crisis and the Council have identified recommendations which will help Ireland address these and embrace the significant the opportunities.

Click Here to read the report, entitled Addressing Employment Vulnerability as Part of a Just Transition in Ireland, which the Council has published

Latest publication: What steps would be necessary to ensure a safer handling of hazardous substances?

Over the course of several decades, government policy successfully reduced the occurrence of hazardous substances in the physical environment, but of late this development is stagnating. The number of hazardous substances is increasing, as is the number of products that contain them. As a result, these substances are accumulating in the physical environment, giving rise to new risks and incidents.

in it’s report the Dutch Council for the environment and infrastructure (Rli) argues that current policies on hazardous substances are not sufficient to adequately control the risks to people and the physical environment. The use and number of hazardous substances is increasing, as is the reuse of products containing such substances. New policy is needed if we are to get a grip on hazardous substances.

Furthermore, the Rli makes 10 recommendations to effectuate a better grip on the dispersion of substances within the environment, reduce the adverse effects of cumulative exposure and move towards a safe circular economy by 2050. The recommendations are partly aimed at involving social parties more actively in assessing the usefulness and necessity of chemical substances. This requires greater transparency. Knowing which substances are in which products and what risks are involved is crucial to achieve safe closed-loop systems.

Click Here to read to report, entitled ‘A grip on hazardous substances’

Covid19: We must work closer together than ever before

Following the impact of the SARS-CoV-2, the board and working group chairs of the EEAC Network discussed in a video conference the overarching  challenge the Covid19 crisis poses to sustainability, and the role and activities of the EEAC Network in this altered context.

Covid19: An extensive crisis

The impact of the SARS-CoV-2 on public health, life, wellbeing and the economy is vast. Governments respond with measures that focus on immediate containment, control and relief. In addition, medium-term measures to battle the expected economic and social fallout are being prepared. These measures are all necessary. However, some governments and non-governmental actors are already proposing to curtail sustainability policies, in the name of crisis management. At the European level, Member States are also facing substantial difficulties in finding common solutions to the immediate crisis and its aftermath, putting pressure not only on the Green Deal ambitions and related transitions but on the core of the European project itself. We see this as a time for the EEAC to focus on what we can share with and learn from each other.

The role of advisory councils and similar bodies

This extensive crisis requires a proactive and future oriented response from all, including from advisory bodies like ours. Operating at the interface of science, society and policy making, the councils as gathered in the EEAC Network are in a position to suggest steps towards a sustainable response to the crisis.

The major challenges and uncertainties stemming from the crisis require meaningful and creative ideas so that societal, environmental, and economic resilience can be strengthened against future disasters. The EEAC board hopes that the members of the network will be able to share and compile ideas, views and insights which may profit not only ourselves, but also society and policymakers alike. It is therefore that all secretary generals, directors and council representatives of EEAC member councils are invited to join a conference call in early April 2020.

The agenda of this meeting will include a discussion on possible effects of the Covid19 crisis on the work of each council and the EEAC as a whole, as well as on the transition towards sustainable development. The session will facilitate open exchange on how policy initiatives to reboot European societies and economies can be in line with the EU Green Deal ambitions and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

ESDN Interview with Prof. Furman

The colleagues of the European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN) launched a series of interviews, in which experts in the fields of sustainable development, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and the SDGs are interviewed. The series addresses current topics in the debate surrounding sustainable development and the SDGs.

The March edition features Finnish scientist Eeva Furman. She was part of a group of fifteen scientists who co-authored the Global Report on Sustainable Development for the UN and is Chair of the Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development, one of the EEAC Network’s members.

In her interview Eeva Furman touches upon e.g. the GSDR ’19, the need a stronger and more diversified sustainability science and finally, she argues that the European Union and the Green Deal has the potential to drive forward real change in Europe. Click Here to see the whole interview.

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