The 31st Conference of the European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils (EEAC) Network is titled “Sustainability, Solidarity, and Resilience: Shared Values in the European Union.”
The conference will take place from October 4th to 5th, 2023, in Bucharest, Romania, at the Parliament Palace. On the 6th of October, the EEAC is inviting all councils to stay in Bucharest to attend the Annual Plenary Session in the morning hours.
In light of the ongoing HLPF and the SDG Summit in September, we will meet in Bucharest to discuss the future of sustainable development. This year’s halfway point for reaching the sustainable development goals is a moment for reflection and reassessment of priorities.
Our priority in Bucharest will be to focus specifically on SDG 16, a critical pillar for promoting peace, justice, and strong institutions. The high level events at the UN will bring many lessons and we believe that reflecting on what policymakers and councils can do to provide a strong foundations for better institutions is one of utmost importance.
The Conference will therefore focus on two main questions:
What is the future of sustainable development policies in a changing world?
How can peace, justice and strong institutions be promoted, as stipulated in SDG 16?
We will look at sustainable development governance and the role of advisory councils on the road to strong institutions through the conference’s three lenses: sustainability, solidarity and resilience. By adapting and strengthening institutions to meet evolving needs, SDG 16 enables societies to respond effectively to new threats and opportunities, fostering resilience and sustainability
In the two days in Bucharest, we will facilitate interactive sessions on challenges and trends of the past years. Hereby taking a bird’s eye perspective and investigating what has changed for advisory councils in the past years and how their role as “strengtheners” of good institutions can be improved.
The sessions will deal with financial strategies concerning the MFF, the way that the SDG Summit should be interpreted and how cross-border partnerships such as the Danube River Cooperation can lead to answers for building transnational institutions. Lastly we are happy to welcome most relevant speakers from Brussels NGOs for civil society engagement in the fight for better and stronger sustainable development.
Choosing SDG 16 as the central topic of this conference, the Romanian Consultative Council for Sustainable Development hopes to provide an engaging and concrete program that has take-home messages for every participant. We have all been adjusting to governance in permacrisis mode and the emerging challenges that need new coping strategies.
One of SDG 16 specific focus points is dealing with these emerging challenges. The world is undergoing profound transformations, driven by rapid technological advancements, globalisation, and climate change. We cannot wait to spend time together to find answers to how advisory councils can continue to foster dialogue, share best practices, and formulate collaborative strategies to address the multifaceted challenges.
To register please use the following link: https://shorturl.at/pvHLZ
Today marks the start of the 2023 High-Level Political Forum in New York. The EEAC network is represented by its national councils and its president Arnau Queralt Bassa travelling to speak at a range of events. Below are the two events the EEAC is cohosting this year.
On the 12th of July, Arnau will be speaking at an EEAC event cohosted with the European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN) titled: Experiences in Peer Learning in Achieving the2030 Agenda and the SDGs. This side event will focus on the contribution of peer learning for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The ESDN has launched its Peer Learning in 2015, and they have become a core activity of the network. Partner organizations, such as our network and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), have also put in place their respective peer learning activities. This Side Event will seek to share collective experiences made over years of peer learning activities and how these can be improved upon. Youth Delegates from the ESDN Youth Network will also share their experiences in peer learning through the ESDN with other Youth Delegates from Europe.
12 July, 08:00 am, UNHQ, CR C
On the 18th of July, the EEAC is cohosting an event titled: Transformative potential of Continental Voluntary Reviews (VR): Peer-learning and experience sharing between Europe and Africa. This is an initiative by the German Council for Sustainable Development. This event aims to discuss the potential for supranational and regional actors to deliver voluntary reporting on Agenda 2030 and other continental agendas with the aim of strengthening regional cooperation for sustainable development. It aims to provide answers the following questions. How to foster more continental coherence through subnational sustainable development and in how far can VRs be helpful on this way? In what areas of the 2030 Agenda and the Agenda 2063 are supranational organizations important actors to deliver the SDGs? What are the connections and impulses of supranational VRs for the national delivery of the 2030 Agenda and, conversely, what are the effects of national strategy and reports on supranational organizations? What role do regional agendas, such as the European Green Deal and the 2063 Agenda of AU, play with regard to sustainable development and how can their interfaces with the 2030 Agenda lead to mutual acceleration? How can the HLPF serve as enabler for regional/supranational reporting and stimulating regional strategizing and delivery of sustainable development?
18th July, 2:45 pm at the Mission of the African Union
Both events are held live in New York. In case online participation becomes available, this will be shared on the website.
Multiple members of the EEAC actively participated in the 21st Workshop of the European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN). László Borbély, EEAC member and ESDN Vice President, delivered a speech on Theater and Cultural Models for Sustainability. Gábor Bartus, EEAC Working Group Co-Chair and Fee Kirsch, EEAC network coordinator, took on the role of hosting a roundtable session focused on SDG output efficiency and the European Voluntary Review.
The workshop, held in Vienna, Austria, brought together more than 80 participants from 15 European countries over two days. The first day of the workshop centered around the theme of “Culture and Sustainable Development,” while the second day focused on “SDG Implementation in Policymaking – Approaches in SDG Budgeting, Mainstreaming, and Performance Management.”
During the workshop, László Borbély delivered a keynote speech that emphasized the importance of literature, theater, and the audiovisual as integral components of culture in successfully implementing Agenda 2030. Lazlo highlighted that culture has always been a vital part of human development, social cohesion, and sustainable societies. He specifically emphasized the power of theater to connect people emotionally, transcending language and cultural barriers. Theater has the ability to inspire, educate, entertain, and raise awareness about social and environmental issues, making it a valuable tool for achieving the goals of Agenda 2030. He showcased Romania’s Department of Sustainable Development’s cultural projects as examples of this integration. These projects, such as the exhibition at the Antipa Museum and the National Educational Theatre Caravan, demonstrated the younger generation’s openness to sustainability and their desire to be actively involved in positive change.
In their roundtable session, Fee Kirsch and Gábor Bartus provided insights and discussions on the practical aspects of SDG implementation, including budgeting, mainstreaming, and performance management. They shared good practice examples and approaches from Hungary and other EEAC member countries. The session also delved into the European Union Voluntary Review, which was recently published for the High-Level Political Forum. Through their active discussion with participants, they discussed the question of what the analytical annex can do for SDG implementation in policymaking beyond the EU and how we can use the Voluntary Review for the better.
Find the presentations on the ESDN website.
Photos via ESND. Credits: BMK/Viktoria Miess
This month the EEAC hosted two webinars on sustainable finance. The first was on the Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) and the second on the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD).
Both are now available for rewatching on YouTube. Find the CSDDD here and the CRD here.
Jan Verheeke, vice chair of the EEAC, spoke at the European Water Association Conference in Antwerp on the 11th of May.
The European Water Association (EWA) is an independent non-governmental organization, dealing with the management and improvement of the water environment. As a professional association, it covers the whole European water sector (wastewater as well as drinking water and water related waste).
In their yearly conference, the EWA focused on the proposed changes to the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive: What are the challenges and instruments? There were about 70 participants.
Here is Jan’s report from the conference:
Rejane Beurrier (European Commission) presented an overview of the proposed changes and of other water-related initiatives: taken together, the proposed changes form a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get urban water policy at a higher level. In the second introductory speech, I myself explored the challenge to build the connections between an existing more ‘structural’ policy and the potential of the proposed, more ‘systemic’, approach. Next, speakers from WAREG (the water regulators), Aquapublica and EEA showed a broad support for the overall direction of the proposal: a further reduction of the pollution, new measures in relation to emerging and micro-substances, the ambition towards energy-neutrality and the circular economy, an amplified application of the polluter pay’s principle and an increased transparency. In the afternoon, talks were about water policy and innovation, about technological challenges in relation to energy-neutrality, digital transformation, the problem of toxic cocktails in the stormwater, the funding opportunities in Horizon Europe and the effects of climate change on water quantity management – with repercussions on quality. It was definitely useful to participate, and some networking delivers that we could try and find good speakers for our own plans.
The EEAC Network, together with the colleagues of ESDN, has established recurring exchange cycles with delegates from the Council Working Party on the 2030 Agenda and delegates from the European Commission. These exchanges aim to support inter-collegial exchange on Europe’s sustainability challenges. During the latest exchange in Brussels on May 4th, Delegates discussed the Voluntary Review that the EU will provide to this year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum, the work of the Council Working Party on the 2030 Agenda and the upcoming global SDG Summit.
Arnau Queralt Bassa, Gabor Bartus, Jan Mertens, and Fee Kirsch were representing the EEAC Network in this exchange.
On the 3rd and the 10th of May, the EEAC is organising two high-level expert webinars on sustainable finance. After the success of last October’s webinar on the CSRD, we are back to delve into two directives of the European Union. Both proposals are currently in different stages of the legislative process. At the same time, parliaments are discussing their impact and the consequences at national level. The FRDO-CFDD, the Rli and the RNE have invited two expert panels to shed a light on the current situation.
On the 3rd of May we will focus on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). The legislative proposal was presented 23 Feb 2022 and the institutional trilogue for the CSDDD should start mid-2023. The proposed directive is addressed at Member States and will cover approximately 13.000 EU companies. MS will have to ensure that large companies conduct human rights and environmental diligence at the level of own operations, operations of their subsidiaries and value chain operations of entities with which the company has an established business relationship. The webinar focuses on Article 15 of the draft directive, which will require companies to also adopt a plan to ensure their business model and strategy are compatible with the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
This webinar aims at offering an overview on the obligation of companies to define and implement plans to ensure compatibility with the transition to a carbon neutral and sustainable economy in accordance with the latest developments of the CSDDD proposal. Beyond the implementation process, the panel of high-level experts will also address key issues such as possible supporting guidance and best practices, and the role of national initiatives to promote corporate climate commitments. Additionally, we will set out the challenges of the directive’s transposition by the Member States.
To take part in the webinar on May 3rd from 14:00- 15:30, please register here
- Opening words by the Moderator Jan VERHEEKE
- Presentation by Mr. Dan DIONISIE (DG JUST)
- Mr. Dionisie will provide an overview of the key aspects of the CSDDD directive and focus on the obligation to adopt a transition plan (Art.15 of the proposal for a CSDDD). He will provide insights into the specific requirement regarding possible emission reduction objectives and how they can be included in corporate transition plans.
- Presentation by Ms.Anaïs BERTHIER (CLIENT EARTH)
- Ms. Berthier will comment on the challenges and opportunities of Art.15 of the CSDDD proposal.
- Presentation by Mr.Günther THALLINGER (UN HLEG on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments)
- Mr. Thallinger will present the recommendations from the UN High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities and how they could be taken into account by Member States implementing Art.15 of the CSDDD proposal.
- Presentation by a Frederic HANS (New Climate Institute)
- Mr. Hans will present the New Climate Institute Report titled our Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor (CCRM), which looks at global companies across various economic sectors.
- Discussion and Q&A
- Closing words
On the 10th of May, we focus on the Capital Requirements Directive. For the CRD, the trilogue is in April. The European Banking Authority will have a strategic mandate because it will set up many crucial modalities of transition plans such as their content, criteria and their implementation. From the moment that these plans are to be integrated into Pillar 2 of the prudential regulation, it will open up possibilities for action and sanctions by the supervisory authorities, who check whether banks’ risk management processes and capitalisation match their risk profiles.
The EEAC has invited a panel of high-level experts to address which aspects need to be taken into account to ensure that the ambitious goals of the amendments to the CRD can actually be achieved. The panel will zoom in on the main issues discussed in the trilogue . We will also look at the leeway of the European Banking Authority in the implementation process, and the possible risks and opportunities of its mandate. Finally, zooming in on a Dutch and an English example, the webinar also focuses on what we can learn from national initiatives of transition plans in the financial sector.
To take part in the webinar on May 10th from 14:00- 15:30, please register here
- Opening words by the Moderator Jan VERHEEKE
- Presentation by Mr. Thierry PHILIPPONNAT (Finance Watch & EFRAG Sustainability Reporting Board)
- Mr.Philipponnat will present the proposed amendments to the CRD regarding mandatory ESG transition plans in the banking sector: background, focus on financial stability and legislative process.
- Presentation by Ms. Anuschka HILKE (I4CE Institute for Climate Economics)
- Ms.Hilke will set out her views on the conditions under which prudential transition plans could become a game changer for making financial flows consistent with the transition to climate neutrality.
- Presentation by Mr. James VACCARO (Climate Safe Lending Network – Delivery Group of the TPT)
- Mr. Vaccaro will give a presentation on the experience of the Transition Plan Taskforce (TPT) in the United Kingdom.
- Presentation by Ms. Gerdie KNIJP (Sustainable Finance Lab Nederland)
- Ms. Knijp will give a presentation on the experience of the Klimaatcommitment in the Netherlands in the banking sector
- Discussion and Q&A
- Closing words
The newly elected Danish government faces the major task of fulfilling the objectives of the Danish Climate Act and ensuring that Denmark can be a climate frontrunner that can inspire the rest of the world. In its annual status report, the Danish Council on Climate Change (DCCC) takes stock of Danish climate policy, assessing whether current policy efforts demonstrate that Denmark will meet its national climate targets and its EU obligations, e.g. the obligations under the newly agreed burden sharing agreement and the Regulation on land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). Finally, the report includes recommendations for policies and measures that the government should prioritise in the coming year.
Status Outlook 2023 – English Policy Brief
Denmark’s current national climate targets include a target of a 50-54 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 compared to 1990, a reduction of 70 percent by 2030 and climate neutrality no later than 2050.
The DCCC commends the government for outlining a strategy for how to meet the 70 percent target, but, overall, the Council assesses that the government has not yet demonstrated that the targets are likely to be met. This is mainly due to a significant risk that several of the elements in the government’s strategy will not deliver the expected reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Council also finds that even if national targets are met, this will not necessarily mean that Denmark also fulfils its new EU obligations. Most likely, Denmark needs to do more in the transport, agricultural and household sectors to also meet these obligations. Finally, the DCCC recommends that the coming year’s climate policy should focus on implementation of already agreed policies and measures and on addressing emissions from the agricultural sector.
The EEAC Network has a new coordinator. On the first of March, Fee Kirsch assumed her position in the Network. Her background is in Climate Policy and Transnational Governance. She holds a masters from the European University Institute in Florence. In 2021 she was first introduced to the Network while working for the German Sustainable Development Council. Since then, she has trained at the European Commission, working at DG CLIMA and volunteering at the We Are Tomorrow Global Partnership, a network of youth-led organisations campaigning for better climate policy and youth participation.
She replaces Michiel de Vries. Read more
The EEAC Network and the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU organized a policy debate on the way forward to a sustainable European food system. Over 65 invited guest joined the session in Brussels on February 2nd 2023.
European society and its food system are facing a triple challenge, guaranteeing a healthy diet for all, mitigating and adapting to climate change, as well as protecting and restoring habitats for their biodiversity and ecosystems services. This triple challenge requires a systems approach. The Legislative Framework for sustainable food systems, which the European Commission has announced in the Farm to Fork strategy and is expected to adopt by the end of 2023, could provide a strong basis for the system approach. The ambition as well as the challenges to achieve a sustainable food system in the EU are vast and raise questions. How should the Legislative Framework best foster human and planetary health in a coherent and balanced approach between an agricultural supply policy, environmental policy and food (consumption) policy? And will the Legislative Framework direct the strong innovation capacity of actors away from ever lower food prices towards more sustainable farming, food processing and food consumption? Or how can a just transition be ensured?
The debate facilitated a a constructive and open exchange of views about the opportunities and challenges of transforming the European food system and the role that the EU legislative framework for sustainable food systems could play in this transformation. The Exchange was timely given that the European Commission is in the midst of preparing the EU legislative framework on a sustainable food system in the EU. It furthermore built upon the recently issued EEAC position paper on a sustainable food system in the EU. Read More