SINGLE COUNTRY PROFILE
Wednesday, 15 July 2020
The Austrian Strategy for SD (NSTRAT) was adopted as a document relating to the federal level authorities by the Austrian Federal Government in April 2002. Two work programmes have been published at federal level: the 2003 work programme presented 200 specific measures to be implemented in line with the objectives of the strategy. The second work programme (2004) presented 80 additional measures.
Starting with 2006, a joint national strategy addressing both the federal and regional levels (ÖSTRAT) had been developed by the Coordinators. The Council of Governors adopted this joint strategy, as well as accompanying the first working programme in May 2009. In July 2010, the Federal Council of Ministers re-affirmed this decision, also adopting the national SD-strategy (ÖSTRAT), and adding new objectives within the jurisdiction of the federal level. In 2011, both political bodies adopted a new ÖSTRAT working programme and the interim progress report 2011ff.
ÖSTRAT was the first common SD strategy of a federal state addressing both the national and regional level in Europe.
NSDS covers all three dimensions (economic, ecological and social) of SD plus international issues
The NSTRAT is coordinated by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology
Together with the Austrian Federal Chancellery, The ÖSTRAT implementation is coordinated by the “Expert Conference of National and Regional SD Coordinators”, chaired by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology and the Austrian Federal Chancellery on national level together with representatives of Regional SD Coordinators.
Austria has launched the implementation of the 2030 Agenda with a Decision by the Austrian Council of Ministers in January 2016. In line with its universal, integrated and interrelated nature , the Decision of the Council of Ministers emphasizes a mainstreaming approach. In this way, the SDGs are integrated into all activities of Austrian politics and administration in an efficient, goal-oriented and autonomous manner.The sectoral ministries will utilize their existing multi-stakeholder strategy and programming processes to take the SDGs into account in the respective national policy frameworks. Thereby, well-established structures of numerous national policy frameworks will be deployed for the enhancement of SDG implementation.
Additionally, the SDG Focal Points of each Ministry teamed up in an inter-ministerial working group co-chaired by the Austrian Federal Chancellery and the Ministry of European and International Affairs – with particular involvement of the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection
This working group accelerates information sharing on the Agenda 2030 and provides guidance on national reporting. Moreover, it coordinates reporting at the federal level on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda
In March 2017, the working group published the Outline 2016 - Contributions to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the Austrian Federal Ministries (German). The Outline 2016 provided information on the general approach taken, the national policy processes and on the international dimension of the SDG implementation in Austria. It provided a basis for further discussions with Parliament, civil society and other stakeholders.
Further work has been carried out by Statistics Austria on the development of the national indicator report in conjunction with Austria`s first Voluntary National Review (VNR). National indicator works are compatible with the UN guidance and should be regarded in addition to Eurostat reports on SDG progress.
At its level, the former Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism also devised an action plan, “SDG Action Plan 2019+” in 2019 tracking the ministry’s then activities including its future planning with respect to the SDGs. An update of that action plan yet based on the new areas of activities of the current Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology is currently under way.
Austrian Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs
All ministries are closely involved, VNR preparations with special involvement of the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection
Austria will be submitting its first Voluntary National Review in 2020
National — sub-national linkages
Several institutional arrangements foster the cooperation and coordination between the national and sub-national levels in the ÖSTRAT process:
- The ‘Actors Network Sustainable Austria’ is intended to facilitate networking among SD coordinators from the national, regional and local levels. In order to exchange experience on SD issues, a network journal is published and regular network meetings are held. Since 1998, members of the Actors Network Sustainable Austria regularly have met in ‘round tables’ organised by the former Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management in cooperation with one of the Austrian regions. The round table meetings focused on the exchange of experience and information among actors of different working fields and different levels of implementation. During the preparation of the NSDS, one round table meeting was dedicated to discuss governance issues and the expectations of different stakeholders related to the strategy. In 2009, two round tables were held: the first one focused on sustainable resource use and transition towards sustainable lifestyles, at the second the actors network discussed the challenges of demographic development and options to cope with it (click here for more information on the round table meetings. Since 2010 onwards, the activities of the actors network have been closely linked with the implementation of the ÖSTRAT, the joint SD strategy of the Federal and provincial authorities, its implementation by means of joint work programmes, and its further development. As a consequence, the “Round Table Sustainable Austria” was given a new design. In November 2010 the Actors Network Sustainable Austria met at the “1. ÖSTRAT Platform” to develop the first joint ÖSTRAT work programme. More than 50 actors from key institutions of the national and regional levels discussed the further development of existing initiatives as well as options for new partnerships and new initiatives
- The ‘Expert Conference of National and Regional SD Coordinators’ was approved by the “Conference of the Environmental Ministers of the Federal Provinces” in 2000. National and regional SD coordinators meet twice a year in order to develop common activities and to coordinate the implementation of SD strategies and policies. In 2019, the “Expert Conference of National and Regional SD Coordinators’ was merged with the “SDG Focal Points” from the federal level to promote the exchange of information and experience on the 2030 Agenda implementation.
- The chair of the Regional SD coordinators participates in the ‘Committee for a Sustainable Austria’, the key (governmental) mechanism at Federal level that -in previous years- managed the NSTRAT implementation by means of work programmes and progress reports, and today manages both the renewal of the 2002 NSTRAT, as well as the Federal contributions to the ÖSTRAT work programmes and the progress reports. External support for the ÖSTRAT-process: An external support office provides technical assistance for the implementation of the present and the development of the next work programme. It also supports the preparation of progress report and provides back office support for the cooperation and coordination mechanisms that link the national and sub-national levels in the ÖSTRAT process (see above).
- Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) is regarded as an important approach to implement SD at the regional and local level. In 2002, a sub-group of the ‘Expert Conference of National and Regional SD Coordinators’ was established to improve coordination of LA 21 activities which include a standardized quality assurance and evaluation of LA 21-processes, arranging events for exchange of views and experiences and organizing EU-subsidies for LA 21-processes. In 2019, the quality management process was adapted to the objects of the Agenda 2030.
Members of the Actors Network Sustainable Austria regularly have met in ‘round tables’ organised by the former Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism in cooperation with one of the Austrian regions.
Austria actively participates in EU processes connected to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. As an EU Member State, Austria belongs to one of the most important actors in development cooperation worldwide. In this role, Austria is particularly committed to supporting sustainable economic development in the partner countries, mainstreaming of environmental protection, and the advancement of human rights, democracy and good governance.
During the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018, the priority of the Council Working Group on the 2030 Agenda was to establish instruments, processes and structures that would promote the desired mainstreaming within the Council and make use of synergies. In addition to communications with external stakeholders (e.g. Multi-Stakeholder Platform on the implementation of the SDGs in the EU, SDG Watch Europe, UNECE), other Council Working Groups were also sensitised to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. For example, an informal dialogue on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda was initiated on the EU level.
Horizontal coordination on the Federal level is fostered by the ‘Committee for a Sustainable Austria’ that consists of representatives of all Federal Ministries, social partners and the chairs of the ‘Expert Conference of National and Regional SD Coordinators’. Moreover, a ‘Sustainable Development Steering Group’ was established on the national level to coordinate SD activities among the different ministries. As of 2010 the Committee is co-chaired by the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology. These mechanisms work as a
- means of coordination through common projects and programmes,
- political guidance and
- steering mechanism.
Horizontal coordination on the level of federal provinces is facilitated by the Regional SD Coordinators. They assist implementation of SD within the provincial administrations. Furthermore they share experiences and develop joint activities among the provinces, mostly using the mechanism of the ‘Expert Conference of National and Regional SD Coordinators’, which serves both horizontal and vertical integration.
Some of the Austrian provinces decided to develop own SD strategies complementary to the ÖSTRAT to enhance the process of horizontal integration within the respective province.
Horizontal coordination on the regional and local level is encouraged and fostered by the above-mentioned sub-group of the ‘Expert Conference of National and Regional SD Coordinators’ on LA 21. For more details see “sub-national activities”.
In March 2017, the interministerial working group “Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (IMAG) was created, including representatives of all federal ministriesunder theCO-Chairmanship of the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs. The IMAG meets at regular intervals.
To promote vertical and horizontal policy integration, further relevant actors, including the SDG focal points at the federal level, representatives of the Städte- und Gemeindebund and the stakeholders (social partners, NGOs and scientific community) are informed and invited to the IMAG meetings on a regular basis.
As part of the preparations for Austria's first VNR, a drafting group consisting of ministerial- representatives that represent the three dimensions of sustainability was created under the co-chairmanship of the Austrian federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs. In addition, two editorial committees were created, which include all relevant Austrian stakeholders with regard to the 2030 Agenda.
The first Austrian Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the SDGs is a stocktaking and also a point of reflection to spur further activities on all levels. The production of this review has initiated greater cooperation between all levels of government and all relevant stakeholders. The Government Programme 2020–2024 also foresees the further strengthening of a targeted coordination in implementing the 2030 Agenda by systematically involving relevant stakeholders.
- The Federal Chancellery commissioned a National Indicators Report that was published by Statistik Austria in May (preliminary final version in March) 2020. The results of this special report are also taken into account in Austria's first VNR and are published there yet in a shortened manner.
- A first stocktaking compilation of implementation measures undertaken by all federal ministries was released 2017.
- Statistik Austria plays a central role at national level. In 2017, Statistik Austria published its first Austria-specific set of indicators, which was based on, and developed from, the UN set of indicators and the standards of the European Statistical System (ESS). The national indicators were updated in December 2018 and 2019. As a whole, the Austrian set of indicators was substantially improved and expanded there are now around 200 indicators, some of which have even been disaggregated based on gender.
Transparency in, and information on the progress in the implementation of the NSTRAT is considered as equally important. Several measures were set so far:
- Work programmes: Work programmes define specific measures and objectives that are to be implemented. They also refer to relevant sectorial and institutional competencies. Work programmes were published in 2003 and 2004..
- Progress reports: Bi-annual progress reports are foreseen to describe the results achieved in the implementation and to present new implementation measures. The last progress report was issued in 2006 (in German).
- External process review: In 2002, a report on an external process review focussing on the process of development of the NSDS was published. (Link tohttp://www.nachhaltigkeit.at/article/articleview/72444/1/26482) Furthermore, an external process review published in July 2005 summarizes experience gathered and lessons learned by the main actors in the implementation process of the NSTRAT (link to http://www.nachhaltigkeit.at/article/articleview/72450/1/26482)
- External evaluation: In 2005, an external evaluation of the implementation activities and results achieved regarding NSDS was conducted by a group of independent researchers. The results were intended to be taken into account in the further development and improvement of the NSDS. The full version of the evaluation report was published in December 2005; a summary is also available (in German language).
- Audit by the Austrian court of Auditors: In 2005, the NSDS and its mechanisms of horizontal and vertical integration were audited by the Austrian Court of Auditors. In 2009, the Federal Court of Auditors carried out another audit. The aim of the audit was to identify if, and to which extent, integration of SD has proceeded in decision-making processes in the federal provinces and on the national level. Another focus of the audit was the organisational framework and its suitability with respect to the targets to be achieved. The results of the audit were published in 2010; the reports are provided here.
The findings are integrated for the further development/implementation of the NSDS and its on-going revision, as well as the joint ÖSTRAT working programmes, respectively.
In order to monitor progress in the implementation of the ÖSTRAT, a 2-year’s reporting cycle is foreseen, starting with the first progress report scheduled for 2011. Evaluation of the effects of the implementation and of the framework for the process of ÖSTRAT implementation is considered to be important also.
Statistik Austria. STATISTICS BRIEF – Dezember 2018. p. 1.
Statistik Austria. STATISTICS BRIEF – Dezember 2018. p. 3.
Austria takes part in Eurostat and OECD publications on benchmarking sustainability and has recently refined its national indicator based monitoring system again as outlined above.
It should be noted in this context that in addition to official indicator reports such as those by Statistik Austria, Eurostat or the OECD also private benchmarking systems on parts of sustainability or the SDGs as a whole occur and a few of them are carried out regularly even on a global basis. The EU 27 and Austria in particular so far perform well in such private reports that are fairly different to official reports from a methodological view.
Indicators on the page of the Federal Chancellery: https://www.bundeskanzleramt.gv.at/themen/nachhaltige-entwicklung-agenda-2030/indikatoren-agenda-2030.html
In addition to the various participatory approaches applied to ensure stakeholder group integration in the development and implementation of both the NSTRAT and the ÖSTRAT, a strategy group was established in 2002 in order to develop guidance for participation in relation to SD and to interlink the actors working in this field in Austria. The strategy group comprised 20 persons from administration, academia, consulting, NGOs, etc. They drew up practical recommendations (‘work sheets for public participation’) and discussed with stakeholder groups. For further information go to www.partizipation.at.
In July 2008, the Council of Ministers approved the new “standards of public participation” work sheets for public participation (www.partizipation.at).
In July 2008, the Council of Ministers approved the new “that were developed by an inter-ministerial working group that included several stakeholders (social partners and NGOs) and experts. These standards should be applied by the administration when developing programmes and policies.
The outcomes of these standards and the work of the strategy group aimed at:
- Within the IMAG (see above) and in the context of the preparations of the VNR (see above), specific stakeholders, including social partners, NGOs and representatives of scientific community, are informed and invited to meetings on a regular basis.
- The stakeholders provide their inputs as members of the VNR Editorial Committee in all phases of preparation of the VNR. The relevant stakeholders for elaborating the VNR were determined in a participatory and transparent manner by the VNR Editing Group that consists of five ministries
- (the Federal Chancellery, Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs, Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection), and by the IMAG. The members of the VNR editorial Committee inter alia include representatives of social partners, NGOs such as SDG Watch and the scientific community.
LA 21 initiatives
Local/regional Agenda 21 in Austria:
In the year 1998, the first Local Agenda 21 processes (pilot-processes) started in Austria. Currently, more than 529 processes at local level and almost 50 at regional level (regions, districts) can be found. Processes at regional level cover political districts as well as tourist regions or aggregations of communities. A constantly increasing number of processes in Austria can still be observed. The number of LA21 processes is measured periodically by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology. Local Agenda 21 was strongly linked to the NSDS (2002) and the ÖSTRAT (2009/2010).
All federal ministries were tasked with the coherent implementation of the 2030 Agenda by a decision of the Council of Ministers of 12 January 2016. In its progress report on implementing the SDGs the former Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism mentioned the „Local Agenda 21“ as one of important activities with overlapping function.
Organisation at regional level (9 Austrian regions):
Each of the 9 regions has its own coordinating office providing quality management, evaluation, training of moderators, subsidies in processes and projects, communication etc.
To provide best possible support, a working-group on Local Agenda 21, the “DNS-LA21”, has been established by the “Regional SD Coordinators of Austria” in 2003. A board of representatives of the 9 Austrian regions and of the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and developed the “Joint Declaration on Local Agenda 21 in Austria”, which was politically adopted by the “Conference of the Environmental Spokespersons of the Federal Provinces” on 9th October 2003(further adapted in 2010 and also quality based renewals with focus on the Agenda 2030 in 2019). According to this declaration, a work program was implemented and is being further developed Tasks of the board „DNS-LA21“:
- Implementing the tasks of the “Joint Declaration on Local Agenda 21 in Austria” in a view of a “Good Governance Model” for Austrian local authorities
- Focusing on the 2030 AgendaBilateral cooperation between the individual regions
- Coordination of common topics and public relation by the federal ministry
- Coordination and organisation of the periodically held Austrian Summit on Local Agenda 21 ; 8th Summit (Salzburg, 2017), Conference on Local 2030 Agenda (Linz, 2019)
- Quality management; developing methods for a long-term stabilization of processes and orientation on the 2030 Agenda
- Political and institutional lobbying
Which criteria have to be fulfilled to declare a process a “Local Agenda 21”?
To ensure high quality of processes, a set of five criteria was elaborated by a working group of the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technologytogether with the heads of the co-ordinating offices of the 9 Austrian regions. These criteria at the same time build up the basis for the uptake of municipalities or regions into the register of Austrian Local Agenda 21 processes. The quality management process was adjusted to the objects of the 2030 Agenda and politically adopted by the “Conference of the Environmental Spokespersons of the Federal Provinces” on 28th June 2019.
- Political decision at local level – has to be fulfilled
- Participation of local civil society – has to be fulfilled
- Mission statement for Sustainable Development – has to be fulfilled
- Co-ordinated learning process (targeted goals, measures, projects – scheduled level
- Cross-community exchange and networking – scheduled level
Subsidies and support from national and/or regional level
Local Agenda processes are usually supported directly by the co-ordinating office responsible for the respective region. Subsidies are provided for keeping high quality standards, training of moderators and citizens, pilot projects, public relation (events, materials, web pages), networks etc.
The Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology provides support for co-ordinating common topics, public relation and for the recurring conference “2030 Agenda at the local level” (former: “Austrian Summit on Local Agenda 21”). An internet platform for LA 21 provided by the Federal Ministry provides the most important information about LA 21, news, a list of coordinating offices as well as a register and regularly presents a representative Austrian LA 21-process to the public.
Local Agenda 21 receives subsidies by “The Austrian Programme for Rural Development 2014-2020”, Local Agenda was included as an explicit topic, which triggered funding of several research activities over the last years. I Funding of research activities took place within the national research programme “provision” in the years 2005-2009.
For further details please visit our website for Local Agenda 21