Day III: Governing the transformation in the new Digital World

Day three of the EEAC Conference had the sub-titled, Governing the Transformation in the new Digital World. Alex Gutierez Margarit moderated a panel addressing the digital era and concerns about the absence of ethical considerations in existing business models. Simona Levi, Founder of XNET; Gemma Caldon Clavell, CEO of Eticas Consulting; and Anne Marie McGauren from the Irish National Economic and Social Council discussed their concerns about how currently digitalization and artificial intelligence are not only bringing about positive developments. They are enhancing discrimination against women, excluding the perspectives of minority groups, empowering a subset of actors, and being misused to promote particular interests. This occurs as a result of how algorithms are designed and with their use tend to reinforce patterns. They warned that more needs to be done to establish appropriate regulatory frameworks, establish privacy by design, and promote distributive democracy. Andrea Rodriguez, from the Global Cities Program, Barcelona Center for International Affairs discussed her work to integrate minimal ethical basics into European regulatory frameworks. These minimal ethical foundations include sustainability and participation as well as human rights and security. It matters who designs and controls applications, thus, inclusive participatory inputs are critical.

Day II. The twin challenge: towards a green and digital Europe

During the second day of the EEAC Annual Conference the relation between the green and digital transitions took center stage. Four experts representing advisory councils, think-tanks and the European Economic and Social Committee shared their views.

The morning session was opened by Pallas Agterberg from the Council on the Environment and Infrastructure. In her speech, Ms. Agterberg touched upon the role governments should pursue to advance both the green and digital transformations, with special attention to the role of digital platforms. On behalf of Ecologic Institute, Aaron Best provided a critique of economic theories suggesting that the invisible hand of the market had left a visible ecological footprint and should be replaced with coordinated and integrative approaches.  He zoomed-in on the complex and intertwined relationship between the digital transformation and the need to battle climate change.

Following an exchange on the role of national and regional governments, the speakers discussed the  EU’s emerging efforts at an integration of digitalization and sustainability. On behalf of the European Economic and Social Committee, Peter Schmidt (President of the European Economic and Social Committee-NATS Section) shared his views on the opportunities associated with digitalization for rural areas but also the need to not leave communities behind. Thorfinn Stainfort from the Institute for European Environmental Policy pointed out problematic gaps in the integration of the green and digital transformations in a variety of EU policies, including the EU Green Deal and the National Recovery and Resilience Plans, and the problems visible in their implementation.

The final day of the conference (Friday November 19th 2021),  will focus on ethics, democratic values and inclusion in the digital era. With a round table and live interview the third day promises to be highly informative. The conference recordings will be made available in the next weeks. Click here to consult the PowerPoint Presentations of day I and day II.

Day I: Digital transformation in the Anthropocene

Today, November 17th 2021, we kicked-off the 29th EEAC Annual Conference, hosted virtually from Barcelona. After the institutional welcome by – among others – the President of the government of Catalonia Pere Aragonès i Garcia and the Secretary for Climate Action of the Catalan government Anna Barnadas-López, three experts set the scene, talking about digital transformation in the Anthropocene.

In the first address of the day, Marcel Dorsch  (advisor for digital transformation to Dirk Messner, President of the German Environment Agency)) touched upon the relationship between the green and digital transformations (please consult his PowerPoint presentation Here). Asun Lera St.Clair shared her views on the ethical and social implications of the digital transformation, including the application of Artificial Intelligence Systems (please consult here PowerPoint presentation Here.)

The third and final contribution, setting the scene from an EU perspective, was provided by Martin Harris-Hess, representing the European Commission (DG Growth). In his contribution, Harris-Hess talked about the initiatives that  the European Commission deployed to enhance the twin-transitions, and the initiatives being taken to limit any negative social and ethical implications of this digital transition.

We will continue on Thursday November 28th 2021 discussing the role governments and the European Union are pursuing to advance both the green and digital transformations (the twin-transitions) while mitigating against unintended consequences.  The complex and intertwined relationship between the digital transformation and the need to battle climate change will be a key focus. The recordings of Day I will be made available soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Webinar III: Making Policies Work for Planetary Health

The third and final webinar in the joint EEAC/CADS webinar series on Planetary Health,  took place on Thursday October 28th 2021. The session focused on various initiatives that are working to help governments prevent future health risks related to ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. Two specific initiatives – The Helsinki declaration, and EU Green Deal – were discussed in the context of the Planetary Health Concept by  Jaana Halonen (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare) and Céline Charveriat (Institute for European Environmental Policy). The presentation given by Sabine Schlacke (German Advisory Council on Global Change) then focused on policy instruments available to prevent future health risks related to ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss, and land use (change). The webinar was concluded by a video message from the Planetary Health Alliance and a plea by EEAC Network Chairman Arnau Queralt for better integration of the concept of Planetary Health in policy making.The recordings of the session can be found on the EEAC youtube channel, and the presentations can be found on the EEAC website.

Webinar II: Planetary Health in the Anthropocene

The EEAC Network, in collaboration with the Advisory Council for the Sustainable Development of Catalonia, held two of three consecutive webinars on the concept of planetary health. The recordings of the two first sessions are now available.

During the second webinar, entitled “Planetary Health in the Anthropocene”, Nick Jacobs (Director, IPES-Food), Jordi Serra-Cobo (Lecturer, IRBio), and Aleksandra Kazmierczak (Expert – Climate change and human health, EEA) touched upon the food-health nexus, the profound relation between biodiversity loss, land use change and threats to health, as well as on the relation between climate change and human health. The recordings of the session can be found on the EEAC youtube channel, and the presentations can be found on the EEAC website.

Webibar I: Planetary Health: introduction to a new paradigm

The EEAC Network, in collaboration with the Advisory Council for the Sustainable Development of Catalonia, organized its first of three consecutive webinars on the concept of planetary health today. During this first webinar, entitled “Planetary Health, Introduction to a New Paradigm”, Josep Maria Antó-Boqué (ISGlobal), Sarah Dickin (Stockholm Environment Institute) and Peter Sousa Hoejskov (World Health Organizaiton, Regional Office) touched upon the concept of Planetary Health from different angles, like human health and the one health concept, and discussed policy coherence and entry points for the concept of Planetary Health across the Paris Agreement, Agenda2030, the  Sendai Framework, and the New Urban Agenda. The recordings can be found here, and the presentations can be found here.

Towards net-zero: Sound policies need science. Session recordings now available

Following the release of the Fit for 55 package and the EU Climate Law’s promise to create a Climate Change Advisory Board, IEEP and the EEAC Network gathered scientists and policymakers to discuss how scientific evidence can best be used in the context of European climate policymaking.

After EEAC Chairman Arnau Queralt’s introduction, the discussion, moderated by IEEP Executive director Céline Charveriat, focused on what has been proposed in the Fit for 55 package in terms of the role of scientific advice in recent European climate policy initiatives. Later on, the speakers discussed how science, and the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change in particular, can further support Europe’s climate objectives, i.e. a 55% reduction of gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2030, and climate neutrality by 2050.

Insights from the panels

“The European Climate Law brings science into the heart of European climate policy by establishing a new Climate Change Advisory Board. Yet, many challenges remain to ensure that the best available knowledge reaches policymakers, notably overcoming policymakers’ own confirmation bias.”

— MEP Jytte Guteland, S&D, Rapporteur for the European Climate Law

“EU policies have long-term effects on Europe’s economy, environment and society and should therefore be based on the best, most accurate scientific understanding.”

— Christina Moberg, President of the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC)

“The European Climate Law sets a sound framework and tools to deliver the climate neutrality objective, including bridging the gap between politics and science. The Fit for 55 package is the first stress test for its efficiency. Timely implementation is necessary to capitalise on the benefits and deliver high standard policy decisions.”

— Elisa Giannelli, Policy Advisor, E3G

“The European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change will strengthen the role of scientific expertise and advice in outlining actions and opportunities to reach the EU’s climate goals.”

— François Dejean, Head of Climate change mitigation, energy and transport, European Environment Agency (EEA)

“The European Scientific Advisroy Board could take inspiration from the way the Danish Council on Climate Change is governed and operates, as a watchdog, an advisor, and a contributor to the public debate.”

— Peter Møllgaard, Chair of the Danish Council on Climate Change

“We need to develop modelling tools that are better adapted to addressing just transition questions; but we need to use these modela as tools to explore options and trigger policy discussions, involving all stakeholders.”

— Pierre-Marie Aubert, Coordinator, European Agriculture Initiative, Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI)

Recording of the event

Listen to the full conversation in the recording: Webinar | Towards net-zero: Sound policies need science – YouTube

Click here for more information.

Implementing the SDGs at EU level

The implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were prominent on the European agenda in June 2021. Not only launched Eurostat its report entitled  “Sustainable development in the European Union. Monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context”, also the Council of the EU reaffirmed strong EU commitment to the implementation of the SDGs.

Following these developments, the EEAC Working Group on Sustainable Development organized an online policy briefing. The aim oprovided participants with the monitoring report’s findings, and put the Council conclusions in the context of the report’s findings.

Ms. Mayer (Eurostat), Ms. Humphries (WWF EU), and Ms. Lindblom (ESDN) shared their insights during the briefing. Read More

FRDO-CFDD, RNE and EEAC organized a joint webinar on corporate sustainability reporting

The Belgium Federal Council for Sustainable Development (FRDO-CFDD), the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) and the EEAC Network organized a webinar entiteled:  “Corporate sustainability reporting: recent developments”. The webinar took place on June 17th.

Background

Since the launch of the European sustainable finance action plan, the financial sector is asking for improved information on the exposure of companies to sustainability risks. Diverse stakeholders think that companies should better account for their social and environmental impacts. Moreover, companies facing increasing transparency requirements consider that the related reporting costs are too high.

The EU Commission’s proposal for a new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), and the proposal for an EU sustainability reporting standard-setting should address these various expectations and concerns.

Aim of the webinar

To give you further information about these initiatives and to highlight their implications for the financial sector, for stakeholders of sustainable development and for enterprises, the FRDO-CFDD, RNE and EEAC organized the webinar. The morning session focused on the EU reforms for sustainability reporting, and the afternoon session focused on their practical implications at the national level.

Over 150 people particiapted in the session on June 17th. Follow-up documentation and presentions will be made available on the website soon.

 

EEAC member councils discussed CAP Strategic Plans

The EEAC Working Group on Ecosystem Services gathered for an online session on the national implementation of the new EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2022-2027, and the potential role that advisory councils can play in that process. With this session the Working Group informed the colleagues of the different advisory councils about the policy process that will start after the finalized CAP negotiations, and what role advisory councils at national and sub-national level can play in the pursuit of a CAP implementation that does justice to the specific challenges in the different countries and/or regions. Additional attention was paid to optimizing policy coherence between CAP, climate, environment and biodiversity policies. Read More