The Working Group on Sustainable Development consists of representatives from different national and regional advisory bodies which have longstanding experience on the issue of sustainable development.
Through communication and coordination, as well as the combined knowledge, expertise, and resources of its members, the working group is able to address a number of relevant issues with regard to the development and implementation of sustainable development policies in the European area.
The Working Group is currently Chaired by:
Arnau Queralt-Bassa Gábor Bartus
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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 session provided participants with the monitoring report’s findings, and put the Council conclusions in the context of the report’s findings.
We were pleased that Ms. Mayer (Eurostat), Ms. Humphries (WWF EU), and Ms. Lindblom (ESDN) shared their insights during the briefing.
Presentation by Ms Mayer (Eurostat)
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.
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.
The Minister and the Secretary General of the Ministry for Environment and Climate Action of Portugal will provide an EEAC-exclusive policy briefing on the agenda of the Portuguese EU Council Presidency.
Portugal took over the Presidency of the European Council on January 1st 2021. The Portuguese Presidency organized its programme around five main pillars: A) Resilient Europe; B) Social Europe; C) Green Europe; E) Digital Europe; and F) Global Europe. In the e-presentation the ‘Green Europe’ pillar will be centre-staged.
The Presidency has an ambitious agenda, including the finalization of the EU climate law, approval of the EU’s Circular Economy Strategy and a successful wrap-up of the negotiations on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. A packed Presidency agenda that needs to be delivered amidst the challenges of the covid19-pandemic.
While having pledges, strategies and ambitions in place, the EU and its Member States still struggle to meet the SDGs and the related targets. This leaves Europe with a void. A void between ambitions and reality on the ground. In the EEAC background paper, the authors dedicate their attention to a specific issue that might play a role in this void: the use of economic instruments to enhance sustainable development.
With the valuable inputs of five EEAC member bodies, the background paper touches upon the fundamental benefits of economic instruments to enhance sustainability.
During the presentation of the report by Prof. Bartus (NFFT), the following questions took center stage: A) What prerequisites need to be met to deploy such instruments successfully? B) why are most European countries struggling to do so? And C) what basic principles need to be applied to move towards a more successful use of these instruments?
You can find the background paper enclosed to this message.
ECONOMIC INSTRUMENTS TO ENHANCE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
A two-day (online) seminar was organized on financing the green transition in times of economic recovery. The event was a joint initiative of the Belgian Federal Council for Sustainable Development (FRDO-CFDD) and the European Commission, in collaboration with the European network of Advisory Councils on Climate Change, the Environment and Sustainable Development (EEAC Network), the European Investment Bank and the Belgian regional sustainable development councils.
The Covid19 has shaken Europe and the world to its core. To help repair the economic and social damage, kick-start European recovery, and protect and create jobs, the European Commission has proposed a major recovery plan for Europe, Next Generation EU. Reforms as well as significant investments, both from the private and public sector, are at the heart of this plan, which builds on Europe’s growth strategy, the European Green Deal, to a more sustainable, digital, fair and resilient Europe.
What was addressed
The EU has already taken several initiatives to facilitate the financing of the green transition. We will take stock of these, as well as the particular challenges and opportunities in Belgium, during a two-day seminar.
The following questions were on the agenda:
- 18 September: What are the EU initiatives to facilitate green transition financing in times of economic recovery?
- 25 September: How to address the green transition financial challenges and opportunities in Belgium in times of economic recovery ?
Speakers included: Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (UCL), Arnau Queralt-Bassa (EEAC), Veerle Nuyts (EU Commission), Emmanuel Buttin (EU Commission), Thomas Verheye (EU Commission), Michèle Lacroix (EFRAG), Philippe Lamberts (MEP), Sirpa Pietikäinen (MEP), Pierre-Emmanuel Noël (EIB), Xavier Vanden Bosch (EU Commission), Yelter Bollen (Arbeid en Milieu, Fairfin), Pierre Vanheuverzwijn (Pacte national d’investissements stratégiques), Agnès Giner Lloret (Sowalfin), Pierre Hermant (Finance Brussels), Johan Reynaert (PMV), Jan Verheeke (Minaraad).
Webinar Report by FRDO-CFDD
The meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) in 2020 was held from Tuesday, 7 July, to Thursday, 16 July 2020. This included the three-day ministerial meeting of the forum from Tuesday, 14 July, to Thursday, 16 July 2020. The theme was “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development’.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adjustments to the format and programme of HLPF 2020 were made. All meetings were held virtually, including all side and special events. In the light of this unprecedented situation, Dr. Beisheim (SWP) provided the EEAC member councils with her insights on the aim of this year’s HLPF, and answered questions about the effectiveness of the forum as well as about the possible impact of this year’s HLPF on Sustainable Development policies at European and national level.
Presentation by Dr. Beisheim
Germany will commence its Presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1st 2020. Rarely have there been so many sustainability related topics on the agenda – plus the opportunity to put the billions of euros earmarked for the coronavirus recovery to transformative use. Therefore, expectations seem high.
However, due to the Covid19 crisis Germany will not be able to execute its previously stipulated Presidency agenda. This raises the question what changes the Covid19 crisis might bring to the agenda, and what the possible risks and opportunities of these changes are. Furthermore, the focus will be on the Presidency’s ambitions regarding issues such as climate change, digitalization, environmental policies and the complex Multi Annual Financial Framework negotiations.
Karsten Sach, Director General International and European Policy at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety will provide insight into the Presidency’s agenda during an EEAC exclusive policy briefing. The briefing aims to inform EEAC members about the focus of the German Presidency of the European Council, with special emphasis on issues related to climate change and environmental and sustainable development policies.
The EEAC Network organized a working session on the European Green Deal in Brussels on Thursday February 13th, 2020.
During the one day working session, EEAC members engaged with think-tanks and other EU oriented organizations to learn how these organizations perceive the ambitions and proposals included in the European Green Deal.
Experts from – among others – IDDRI; IEEP, EESC-SDO, and EPC shared an overall assessment of the Green Deal’s content and potential, as well as more sector specific analyses.
Please find an summary of the working session below.
EEAC Working Session Outcome Summary
Programme of the Working Session
The EEAC Network co-organized, together with GIZ, a workshop at the U.N. Global Festival of Action 2019. The interactive workshop focused on multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs), in which stakeholders from the public sector, private sector, civil society and academia cooperate on equal footing in order to implement the SDGs.
Partnerships are crucial for reaching the SDGs – that is widely acknowledged. However:
A) How can we actually make partnerships work (set-up and composition; governance and financing)?
B) When is forming partnerships a suitable approach, and when not (reasoning; legitimacy; characteristics)?
The aim of this session was to:
1. Share practical experience, knowledge and tips as well as further contacts and opportunities to create new partnerships and improve existing ones for participants of the session
2. Create the space and spirit where not only best practices but also ‘failures’ can be shared and discussed.
3. Learn about the experiences with MSPs among Global Festival participants in order to enrich the know-how of the organizing parties.
The Festival provided a dynamic and interactive space to showcase the latest innovations, tools and approaches to SDG advocacy and SDG action. It brought together leaders from governments, local authorities, international organizations, civil society, activists, young advocates, the creative industry and the private sector– to scale up the impact of their work and strategize joint actions, whilst motivating new organizations and individuals to join the movement and take action for the SDGs.
Complementary to initiatives taken and recommendations made by the EU Multi-Stakeholder Platform on SDGs, Think 2030, IUCN, and the report to the Club of Rome ‘Transformation is feasible’ and after the events it hosted in Rome, Brussels and Milan in 2017 and 2018, the informal group Europe Ambition 2030, of which the EEAC Network is a partner, organized a debate on the issue of alliances to transform Europe on the basis of Agenda 2030. The debate was co-organized together with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels on February 25th, 2019.
Two days later, the EESC-SDO organized a public hearing on the European Commission Reflection Paper ‘Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030’. In prelude to this public hearing the Co-Chairs of the EEAC Working Group on Sustainable Development sent a message to the EESC rapporteurs. The letter includes the current observations among EEAC-Network member councils with regard to the Commission’s Reflection Paper and conclusions drawn by the Co-chairs.
Letter to the EESC-SDO rapporteurs on the EU Reflection Paper
By being an active contributor and observer to the EU’s high-level multi-stakeholder platform; by for example providing input to the targeted consultations on this issue and by participating in several other European initiatives, the EEAC Network has been closely involved in the preparatory process of the Reflection Paper. The Paper will be analyzed and discussed in several forums at EU level in the weeks to come. In prelude to these discussions, the EEAC Working Group on Sustainable Development will have an video-conference to discuss the paper among fellow advisory councils.
Several Advisory Councils for Sustainable Development work on the issue of Sustainable Finance. The EEAC Network is glad to facilitate European cooperation among councils and stakeholders on this important issue. In 2019, we kicked off with a joint event together with our Belgium colleagues.
In the context of their work on the financing of the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy, the Federal Belgium Council for Sustainable Development ) with the collaboration of the European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils network (EEAC) organized a seminar on: A) the implementation of the EU Action Plan: Financing Sustainable Growth; B) The proposal for a regulation on disclosures relating to sustainable investments and sustainability risks and C) the revision of the guidelines on non-financial information.
The programme included an in-depth discussion about the related key issues for actors involved in financing the transition in Belgium and in other European countries: institutional investors, asset managers, savers, NGOs and financial regulators.
The seminar was conducted in English. Please click here to see the seminar’s presentations.
The EEAC Working Group on Sustainable Development co- organized a workshop at the United Nations Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development. The Workshop is entitled: ‘From policy to practice: Framing communication of the Sustainable Development Goals in the European Union’.The workshop took place on Friday 23 March in Bonn, Germany. The Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development brought together the global community taking action to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality. It recognized and celebrated the innovators, conveners and breakthrough actors who are transforming lives and generating practical solutions to some of the world’s most intractable problems. Thematic background Through the global 2030 Agenda, the European Union and its member states have committed to sustainable development with its clear resolve to ‘leave no one behind. Europe is nevertheless still struggling to embrace these goals: broad swathes of civil society and business associations, as well as political parties, promote their agendas quite detached from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At a time when it becomes increasingly challenging to mobilize people for a joint agenda, actors need to improve their communications to protect and promote established norms and goals in the sustainability field. This includes mainstreaming the human-rights based approach to development, as provided by the framework of the SDGs. Programme outline The joint-session focused on means, strategies and tools of communicating the SDGs to different audiences in Europe. Our organizations identified common challenges in communicating SDGs to different target groups, including the public, influencers, policymakers and constituencies, to increase awareness of decision-makers in politics, business and society for their role in engaging for a sustainable future. case studies from our organizations were presented. After setting the scene, a lively discussion took place and the knowledge exchange with the global audience on different communication means, strategies and approaches kicked off. In a world-café setting, we worked together along the lines of the following guiding questions: • Which narratives promote and protect sustainable development in the EU in your respective field? • Which communication tools and instruments do you use to (effectively) communicate the SDGs? • How can you reach the public and constituencies that are unfamiliar and not engaged with the SDGs? • Can you identify important milestones or events that can be tied into the narrative of the EU’s future? • What instruments exist to ensure that sustainability and/or the SDGs are part of the broader debate in prelude to the European Parliament’s elections in 2019? A concluding debate with selected representatives from our organizations was utilized to reflect on the discussion results and outcomes. The representatives served as rapporteurs from the diverse world café discussions and tied together our take-aways. To conclude The EEAC is pleased that we had the opportunity to co-host this session together with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA); the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN); European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP) and a consortium of German NGOs.
The International Conference on Sustainable Development Goals: Actors and Implementation is a leading international meeting aiming to create a permanent and multidisciplinary knowledge network on implementation of SDGs, where all stakeholders learn from each other: universities, governments, cities and public agencies. Held in Barcelona, Catalonia, from 18th to 19th September 2017, it will gather multidisciplinary experts and high-level practitioners from around the world to exchange knowledge, ideas, experiences and expectations around the challenges involved with the SDGs. Through a combination of speeches by renowned experts, round tables and thematic workshops, the conference wants to open a debate among the different stakeholders on solutions for a sustainable development to transform society at local and global level. The International Conference is one of the activities organized by the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi) in the frame of the International Summer School on Higher Education and Research Leadership. It aims to provide intellectual guidance and scientific evidences to the challenges of SDGs, with a humanist and critical thinking, promoting research and education to build a fair global community and more sustainable cities. Click here for more information
March 23rd marked the Sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. On that occasion, the international conference “Europe Ambition 2030 – Make Europe the world leader of sustainable development: a unique opportunity to build a stronger European Union” was organized to discuss the launch of a new vision for Europe based on the values and objectives of the 2030 Agenda. The international conference organized by ASviS and other international partners – such as IDDRI, IEEP and the EEAC Network created a forum to discuss how Eu governance and policies should be redesigned to encompass the realization of the SDGs as a new basis for the achievement of the Union’s aim to “promote peace, its values and the wellbeing of its peoples” (art. 3, Lisbon Treaty). The event had over 200 attendance. Amongst others, European high-level officials as well as representatives of leading civil society organizations, scientists and representatives of advisory councils. The Conference was hosted by the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Sala della Regina and took place in Rome on 23 March 2017.
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Open letter to Heads of State