Friday, 19 December 2008

European Sustainable Development Network | Newsletter 2008-12


ESDNewsletter December 2008

This ESDNewsletter informs about the following topics and activities on SD in Europe:

If you have colleagues who may be interested in SD governance in Europe, please feel free to forward this newsletter. We invite them to subscribe to the quarterly ESDNewsletter by clicking here.


New ESDN Quarterly Report on "Interfaces between the EU SDS and the Lisbon Strategy: Objectives, governance provisions, coordination and future development"

The ESDN Quarterly Report December 2008 provides an overview of the interfaces between the EU SDS and the Lisbon Strategy. After a brief outline on two major governance issues in relation to both strategies (policy integration and multi-level governance), the QR presents an overview of objectives and governance provisions of both strategies and reflects on their similarities, differences and interfaces. This is followed by two scenarios of future strategic development in the EU post-2010. Finally, the QR presents the results of a survey among SD coordinators, conducted by the ESDN Office, on the links between the EU SDS and Lisbon Strategy processes on the Member States level.

>> Read the current ESDN Quarterly Report

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Extensive update of the 'country profiles' section on the ESDN homepage

The ‘country profiles’ section on the ESDN homepage has been updated extensively. The country profiles of 33 European countries have been updated on all topics, plus another topic on ‘sub-national activities’ has been added. Moreover, the country profiles are now more easily accessible and the design of the individual country profiles has been renewed.

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Documentation 3rd ESDN Workshop in Brussels

The 3rd ESDN Workshop on ‘Post-2010: The Future of the EU SDS and its Interface with the Lisbon Process’ took place in Brussels on 19 November 2008. It was hosted by the ESDN in cooperation with the Sustainable Development Observatory of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). For a full documentation of the workshop, including a workshop summary report, please click here.

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News on the governance of SD from European countries

This part of the ESDNewsletter provides regular updates on the governance of SD across Europe.

Cyprus: Update of NSDS and sustainable development indicator set

Cyprus is currently in the process of updating its NSDS and preparing a national SD indicator set. More information on the proceedings regarding these issues will follow in 2009.

Denmark: Update of sustainable development indicators

On 30 September 2008, Denmark published an update of its sustainable development indicators. The new indicators are currently only available in Danish. The indicators show continued challenges regarding nature protection, marine environment and agriculture. Despite some reduction achieved in air pollution, there are also some challenges left in this topic.

Finland: Workshop on sustainability assessment in February 2009 and new term of sub-committee on regionally and locally sustainable development extended

The Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development (FNCSD) will organize a workshop on Sustainability Assessments on 11 February 2009 in Helsinki. The objective of the workshop is to identify potential tools and outline various feasible ways in assessing the impacts of sustainable development policy objectives. The special focus is to find out how the tools developed could be used to assess in an integrated way the likely environmental, social and economic impacts of a National Sustainable Development Strategy.

In order to learn from various experiences and good practices, some European researchers and policy-planners working on sustainability assessments are invited to the workshop. One important objective of the workshop thus is to create a dialogue between scientists and civil servants and to outline a roadmap from methodology development to policy-process and an actual assessment outcome. In the Finnish case, the workshop aims to feed into a comprehensive sustainable development assessment process taking place in 2009 and ultimately to produce an assessment report in December 2009. The ESDN member countries will be provided with more information on the workshop in early January.

The ‘Sub-committee on Regionally and Locally Sustainable Development’ of the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development (FNCSD) was established in June 2007.  Its term was now extended until the end of 2012. The sub-committee has 35 members from national ministries, regional organizations and municipalities, association of local authorities, employers and trade federations, labour union, local NGOs (consumer, youth, women, indigenous people, health and environment) and the church. The work plan of the sub-committee has been revised in December 2008. The sub-committee will concentrate in the future on the promotion of sustainable climate and energy policies as well as on eco-efficient land-use and transport systems and sustainable community structures in the regional and local levels. 

Germany: Progress Report 2008 on the NSDS and monthly meeting of State Secretaries' Committee on Sustainable Development

On 29 October 2008, the cabinet of the German Federal Government adopted the Progress Report 2008 on the National Sustainable Development Strategy, ‘For a Sustainable Germany’. Currently, the progress report is only available in German; an English version is expected to be available in January/February 2009. The development of the progress report was accompanied by a wide ranging consultation process, running from November 2007 to June 2008. A documentation of the process (in German) was published together with the progress report in October 2008. With this progress report, the German government adopted sustainable development as a leading principle for policy-making.

The purpose of the progress report 2008 is - similar to the previous reports – twofold: to evaluate the progress of the NSDS on the basis of concrete targets and indicators and to further develop the strategy of 2002 by setting up new topics. The report focuses on four thematic topics: climate and energy, steps towards a sustainable resource management, demographic change/opportunities for greater social cohesion, and world food affairs. Furthermore, the report includes additional thematic chapters along the EU-SDS structure, an independent analysis of sustainability indicators by the Federal Statistical Office and contributions of the German Parliament, the federal regions (Bundesländer), the German Council for Sustainable Development and from the national associations of local communities.

Additionally, the report stresses and adopts the management rules for sustainable development which were revised slightly due to different global conditions and the experience made since the NSDS was adopted in 2002. For the first time, the report explains the governmental organisation of sustainability politics and specific institutional responsibilities. The report strengthens the management of sustainable development in Germany’s federal government. A new management tool for implementing the strategy in daily policy-making will be the assessment of new regulations concerning impacts on sustainable development; it will be an obligatory part of the law-making process.

Beginning in December 2008, the State Secretaries' Committee on Sustainable Development will have monthly meetings. The work programme for the committee will deal with relevant sustainability issues like sustainable use of resources, land use, demographic change or the EU SDS. Additionally, there will be reports of the different ministries on the implementation of sustainable development in specific policy fields and on their priorities concerning sustainability.

Lithuania: Report on NSDS implementation and update of NSDS

The report on the implementation of the National Sustainable Development Strategy 2005-2007 has been finished recently. At the moment, the report on only available in Lithuanian: . Moreover, the process to renew the NSDS and the SD indicators has been set up. The process will start when the new government has given its approval. More information can be found on the homepage of the Ministry of Environment.  In August 2008, the government approved a resolution on the regulation of the National SD Commission which resulted in changes in the membership and the organisation of the Commission’s meetings.

Romania: Renewed NSDS approved

The renewed National Sustainable Development Strategy of Romania was approved by the Government and officially launched on 16 December 2008, including a presentation at the European Commission. The review process of the current NSDS was a common project of the Romanian Government, through the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MESD), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Romania. The reviewing process ensured a broad dialog between different stakeholders, and included national authorities, public bodies, universities, the business community and civil society. The renewed NSDS takes into account the objectives of the EU SDS. Please click here to view the renewed Romanian NSDS.

Switzerland: Monitoring Sustainable Development - Switzerland in a Globalised World

Switzerland’s lifestyle and economic system are closely intertwined with other countries through a variety of global interplays. A number of indicators show whether these interplays are sustainable with respect to the use of environmental, economic and social resources. This publication is available in German, French and Italian at

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Other news

ESDN Conference 2009 in Prague: 17-19 June 2009

Next year’s ESDN Conference will take place in Prague. It will focus on the interface between the EU SDS and the Lisbon Strategy. We invite all ESDN Members and Associated Partners to mark this date already now. For an overview of previous ESDN Conference, click here.

EEAC: Bordeaux Declaration / 16th Annual Conference

At the annual plenary session of the European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils (EEAC), held in Bordeaux on 11 October 2008, representatives of national environmental and sustainable development councils decided to give their view on the current financial situation in the context of their statement on Sustaining Europe for a long way ahead. As a result the EEAC steering committee created the "Bordeaux declaration". It is addressed to the Council of the EU and the European Commission, as well as for EEAC member councils to take to their national governments. For more information on the EEAC’s annual conference, click here.

5th Annual Meeting of the OECD LEED Forum on Partnerships and Local Governance

The OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Program invites members and partners of the ESDN to its 5th Annual Meeting on Partnerships and Local Governance to be held at Austria Trend Hotel Savoyen Vienna, Austria on 9 - 10 February 2009. For more information, click here.

EASY-ECO Trainings on Evaluation of Sustainable Development

EASY-ECO offers a special opportunity for researchers (with less than 10 years of research experience) and public administrators (dealing with SD or evaluation of projects and programmes) to attend trainings on evaluation of SD. The participants of EASY-ECO trainings learn about key elements in sustainability evaluation, e.g. roles of evaluation in the policy cycle, stages of evaluation as well as methods and techniques to conduct an SD evaluation. The trainings consist of an online training phase and a 5-day case training. Two trainings are foreseen in 2009: The online course for the upcoming training in Lund/Sweden (14-18 April 2009) starts at the end of December 2008. The second training will take place in Bilbao/Spain (6-10 July 2009), with online courses starting in February 2009. To register for either of the trainings, please contact the EASY-ECO coordinator, Mr Michal Sedlacko ( as soon as possible. For more information on the EASY-ECO trainings, please click here.


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e wish you a peaceful Christmas and all the best for 2009!

The ESDN Office Team at the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability

Andre Martinuzzi
Gerald Berger
Markus Hametner
Ursula Kopp
Wilhelm Zwirner

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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Reverend Billy Says 'Stop Shopping'

The Reverend Billy is on a mission, a mission to stop us shopping. You can see a trailer of his film 'What Would Jesus Buy' below, or go to the website here
The blogs are good too, including the latest Christmas offering.
'The big ritual of giving is changing. We have thousands of reports coming into Families are approaching the holiday as an open experiment, often in step with other families in their neighborhoods or in their places of worship. In this Christmas Revolution, we ignore the veiled threats from the media that we’re bad Americans if the retail corporate grosses sink. We are returning to the very seed of the whole thing: the act of giving.'

Friday, 12 December 2008

The Collapse of the Stuff Market.

Well, it was bound to happen in the end. The highstreet stores are now entering into all out price-slashing war. In the battle to sell the most stuff, the now failed Woolworth's and the not so badly off Tesco are firing 50%-off-rockets at eachother. The media are whipping it all up - the Western Mail report 'Sales Chaos Forecast..' , the Daily Express '50% off bargain Britain' , apparently, 'Britain went bargain crazy yesterday''.

Meanwhile, the FT reports that FTSE continues to plummet after the US senate failed to conjure up the big bucks necessary to prop up two motor manufacturers you may have heard of - General Motors and Chrysler, who claim they'll go bankrupt, yes bankrupt if the taxpayer doesn't cough up. Robert Peston thinks UK taxpayers could be coughing up to help Vauxhall, a subsidiary of GM.

There's clearly a human story here too - the Woolworth's workers, the $1 detroit homes nobody wants - nobody likes the fall-out when a business collapses.

I can't help wondering if the reason Woolworth's is struggling, that Tesco is selling discounted Ipod speaker sets and that GM are begging for help, is that between them, they sell alot of stuff that just doesn't fit the future. From the giant GMC trucks doing 12 city miles per gallon, to the low quality electricals that will last only a few years - these products deserve to struggle off the shelves because (during tough times) because they don't really offer relevant value to customers. If they ever did.

If you do have some money to spend this christmas and you're genuinely feeling the pinch why would you buy more usless stuff, when you could invest in your hard earned cash on something that will increase you or somebody else's resilience or efficiency.

So top tips:
100 quid - go to a DIY store, buy insulation (preferably recycled or natural fibre), insulate your loft.
200 quid - go to this DIY store, pay them to do the above, or the same to do your cavity walls (check the eco credentials of their method first).
6 quid - go to Oxfam Unwrapped and Buy school dinners for 100 children or for...
25 quid - buy somebody a goat
1-50 quid - buy yourself or somebody with a garden, a vegetable plot, or seeds, ready for the spring. You can go to any garden centre and many local hardware stores for these.
4-5 quid - a tap flow reducer - there's lots on the market, but here's an example.
3-30 quid - a wind up torch - I have one, I've used it many times and I haven't bought a battery since. E.g. here.
0 - make a gift, throw a party, bake a cake......

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Great Minds......

A few months ago, we put a call out for essay contributions. We wanted to capture the moment, stimulate and document debate at this most confusing of times. At the time financial institutions were dropping like flies, the UK government had just announced it would sign up to an 80% cut in GHG emissions by 2050 and there was a growing sense that now was the time to do some thinking.

That feeling hasn't passed. As finance ministers meet parallel to the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan this week, Oxfam call for 'Bold action on Climate and Recession' and Mark Lynas tells us that 'high economic growth cannot be reconciled with limited resources'' in his excellent republished piece from the New Statesman. In Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government has published drafts of it's new Sustainable Development Scheme and Green Jobs Strategy  - both of which pose some significant questions for policy makers, espescially those outside of the obvious 'green' agendas. Politicians in Wales will need to get to grips with the notion of a One planet Wales and the context in which Wales and it's economy will operate in coming years.

Our hope is that our essay symposium will help inform some of those decision makers. Having spent last Thursday afternoon reading through the contirbutions, I'm enthused. We'll be publishing the essays online, via this blog and the Cynnal Cymru - Sustain Wales website , early in the new year. We'll also make sure that Assembly Members and senior civil servants get copies and hopefully getting some debate through the Welsh media.

We've had contributions from:

Calvin Jones, Cardiff Business School

Eluned Morgan MEP, Welsh Labour

Gerry Gold, A World to Win

Tim Jackson, Sustainable Development Commission

Stephen Brooks, Oxfam Cymru

Lee Waters, Sustrans Cymru

Mal Williams, Cylch (Community Recycling Network)

Morgan Parry, WWF Cymru

Leanne Wood, Assembly Member (Plaid Cymru)

Owen Evans, Business in the Community

Andy Middleton, TYF Group (Cynnal Cymru Board)

Peter Jones, RSPB Cymru

Peter Wells, BRASS, Cardiff University

Rachel Auckland & Jan Cliff Sundance Renewables

Steve Harris, Science Shops Wales

Charlie Mason, Friends of the Earth Pembrokeshire

Victoria Winckler, Bevan Foundation

David Melding, Assembly Member (Welsh Conservatives)

Steve Williams, Improvement Team, WLGA

Kirsty Williams, Assembly Member (liberal Democrat)

Bill Thomas, Sharp Electronics

Nuria Zolle, NEA Cymru

Meanwhile, George Monbiot is getting understandably frustrated by David -  '"Have you noticed there is a wind turbine on Teletubbies? That's subliminal advertising, isn't it?" -  Bellamy and the climate change deniers, which reminds us that whilst the great minds of Welsh politics and academia are committed to finding a sustainable future, lots of people are still pretending there's nothing wrong with the world as it is. I'm sure Kirsty WIlliams, the new leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be feeling just fine about the world today, even if Betsan thinks she faces 'one hell of a job'. If the essay Kirsty sent us is anything to go by - she'll be just fine and she's well aware of the challenges Wales faces.

Apologies for the lack of comments sections below - Blogger has gone crazy but I'm working on it....

Monday, 8 December 2008

60k a year to save the planet - CDM has arrived in the Middle East.

"Due to business growth and increased customer demand, a pioneering Environmental Advisory Services Consultancy based in the UAE seeks to hire a Carbon Sourcing and Advisory Manager to join their successful team." reads the job description for the post of 'Carbon Sourcing and Advisory Manager' . Its seems like a fair deal - go to the UAE, identify ways to reduce emissions and get paid a fair loaf for doing so. Nobody thought sorting out climate change would be cheap did they?

Last week I spent some time reading up on CDM, or the Clean Development Mechanism. As the UN(FCCC) website explains: 'The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), defined in Article 12 of the Protocol, allows a country with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (Annex B Party) to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries. Such projects can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.'' See here.

Or as George Monbiot put it to Yvo de Boer (see below post and link to video) 'a money printing exercise'. There certainly appears to be a growing industry around the CDM and the trading of CER credits. There does also seem to be a wide variety of projects undertaken and proposed that look as if they will achieve emissions reductions 'that are additional to what would otherwise have occurred' (UNFCCC).

But the efficiency and effectiveness of the CDM as a process for realising GHG emissions, globally, is very much open to question. Spend a bit of time looking aorund the CDM Bazaar webiste and you'll get a feel for how the market is sturctured.
Sellers are runnning emissions mitigation projects, or looking to set them up. They therefore have CER credits to sell, or are looking for investment from Buyers, on the basis that they will achieve credits, which can be bought out and then traded on the markets.

Let's imagine I have mate in the Phillipines, who has some land and a 'positive relationship' with the local planning officials. We might form a company - let's call it 'SolarDrain' and put together a propoal to build a small solar farm, linked into local factories, homes etc.

We then make a guesstimate as to the emissions reductions our plant might be able to deliver over a given period of years. This will give us a sense of how many CER credits we would receive.

Now we can go to potential investors, or buyers, and invite them to specultatively buy up our CER's. They'll be looking to pay the bare minimum and we'll be looking for enough to cover the project and a nice meal or two.

Sufficed to say, I'm now going to work out, by looking at existing projects, what you might expect to get per CER from a buyer and what sort of expenditure a Seller might be expecting to make for each CER they realise. E.g. if it costs me X to build a solar plant and I can get >X from selling CERs, then I'm getting straight onto my man in Manila. To save some Carbon of course......

George Monbiot meets Yvo de Boer

Link to video interview posted on Guardian this morning. Makes interesting viewing. I'll be following up by looking at CDM later - Cean Development Mechanism, or not so clean, perhaps.
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George Monbiot meets Yvo de Boer

George Monbiot charges the UN's leading climate change official with lacking ambition for a global emissions deal, and takes him to task over expensive carbon offset schemes and his support for the US president, George Bush. Includes stock footage from Greenpeace

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Thursday, 4 December 2008

Equality? 2/3rds of worlds poor are women or girls

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There are around 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty worldwide. More than two-thirds of them are women and girls.

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Mid-life climate crisis? Well I'm talking about my generation

If you're 50 years old today, you'll have been born in 1958 - Lord Rockingham's XI were number one with 'Hoots Mon'. By the time this song had been adapted for the 'there's juice loose aboot this hoose'  Maynard's Winegums advert, circa 1991, levels of CO2 in the atmosphere were already spiralling up towards the high 300's where we now find ourselves.

Over the period 1950 - 2000 many in the increasingly affluent West entered into a brave new world, from which we are yet to exit - an era of fossil fuelled consumption catalysed by adverts, such as this, for the Ford Freedom. As the lady says, before they owned two cars 'I couldn't get out and shop' - 'It's a whole new way of life'.

Yes, suddenly anything was possible and anybody could and should own an inefficient fridge capable of holding '49 pounds of food'. This Pearl and Dean compilation makes for good watching - highlighting the rise of new markets in luxury products - The Rimmel and Supersoft beauty products, the Choc Ices, the Cordial - this was the birth of aspiration, not for the good life (as sold) but the good stuff.

After a brief period during the 60'/70's when some people took LSD, got worried about the cold war, marched for civil rights and generally did some world changing from the comfort of a music festival then wore flares, people got back to the serious business of consuming as much as possible and in the process underpinning the continued destruction of the planet's ecosystems. I'm recklessly paraphrasing history here and not necessarily attaching any blame to you crazy 50's cats.

Product of that generation are the kids born into a world already locked into climatic change and a consumption culture that has come to drive so much of our social interaction and shaped our culture so profoundly. I grew up, surrounded by the home comforts of the 50's, 60's and 70's and exposed to dog-eat-dog wealth aspiration of the 1980's - Alan Wicker and Rowan Atkinson selling me credit-fuelled dreams of fossil fuelled overseas travel. Just look where all that got us!

Simultaneously, at school and sometimes via the media, noteably Newsround, I was learning of the Greenhouse effect, global warming and the hole in the ozone layer. I do remember feeling that the world was in great danger - that if we were stuck in a greenhouse, we needed to get out.

We've carried on as usual though - many of my peers have consumed, travelled and disregarded the planet more than any prior generation during their brief time on earth. I include myself in this category. We've grown up in a world where it's easy to carry on regardless, even though the science we've seen from our formative years has told us we face a problem.

We're the first generation that's lived through the emergence of the mainstream climate change debate and the information age. We're connected on facebook and by email, by mobile phones and through online media: virtually. But we're largely disconnected from the decisions that shape our future. We turnout in the 30-40%s at a general election and we have never marched, on mass-scale, in unison on any issue of significance.

Yet, as leaders meet in Poznan, as Adair Turner publishes his climate change commission report and as today the Climate Change Commission in Wales meets again - all of those top tables are dominated by the middle-aged. If you're under 40 and you are influencing the climate change debate - how to achieve a technological, logistical and cultural shift unlike any previous, you are very much in a minority. The rest of us are spoken for, by a generation who may live to see us fail on emission reduction targets but will by that point have a less immdeiate concern as to the consequences of that failure.

We've all been part of the problem, at different times - we must all shape the solutions. Achieving a sustainable world or Wales will never succeed if we populate decision making arenas only with those whose age and experience qualifies them for senior roles: They have no more to offer than the next person to be born and much less to lose.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Monday's Newsnight

You can watch Monbiot, Paxman, Adair Turner and David Porter thrash out their wildly differing stances on the state of the world here, via the iplayer.

Paxman gets fairly irate at one point, questioning whether the public will care about the value of investments in energy supply, if they're not alive. I rather enjoyed it, brief as it was...

Monbiot has a plan - 25% cuts by 2012

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Turning Carbon into Gold

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The $50bn-a-year needed to help poor countries adapt to the effects of climate change can be found without squeezing extra cash from rich country taxpayers struggling in the credit crunch, Oxfam said today.
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