ESDN Conferences

Conferences are the ESDN's flagship event. They take place each year on topical issues facing Europe when it comes to sustainable development. Since 2015 and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the ESDN has focused on this as a driving force behind its work in fostering exchange, peer learning, trust, and so much more to further the goal of successful implementation and fulfilment of the SDGs.

A photo gallery of ESDN Conferences from the past few years can also be found below, as well as an archive of all Confereces over the ESDN's long history dealing with sustainable development issues. 

ESDN Conference 2024

The ESDN is happy to announce that the ESDN Conference 2024 will be taking place in Brussels, Belgium on 05-06 June 2024! The title of this year’s Conference is “Upgrading Europe: Building Transformative Policies to Reach the Sustainable Development Goals”. The ESDN is organizing the Conference in cooperation with the Belgian Federal Institute for Sustainable Development and the European Economic and Social Committee. The Conference will be an official event of Belgium’s EU Council Presidency.

As we find ourselves just over the halfway point to reaching the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, with only six more years left, the ESDN and co-organizers will focus this year’s Conference on transformative policies. The Global Sustainable Development Reports (2019 and 2023) have identified the entry points to transformational change. The purpose of this Conference is to learn more about transformations and how to bring them about, as well as learn from good practice cases from national governments, local governments, the business sector, academia, and science. The Conference will offer ample opportunities for discussions, networking, and information exchanges with colleagues from all parts of Europe.

A draft of the Conference agenda can be found below.

If you are interested in attending the Conference, please send an email to office[at]

Speakers, Topics & Presentations
Conference Kickoff

Wednesday, 05 June 2024

ESDN Opening

Marguy Kohnen, Former ESDN Vice President, Luxembourg


Elisabeth Freytag-Rigler, ESDN Vice President, Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, Austria

Host Welcome

Dieter Vander Beke, ESDN Advisory Board Member, Director of the Federal Institute for Sustainable Development, Belgium

Ingredients for Making Sustainable Development Policies Transformative

Peter Schmidt, President of the Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Section (NAT) at the European Economic and Social Committee, Germany

Session 1: Setting the Stage on Necessary Transformations for Sustainable Development and the SDGs

Science to Policy - Pathways for Accelerating Transformations

Åsa Persson, Research Director and Deputy Director, Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden (virtual)

SDGs for All: Developing Strategic Scenarios

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President Club of Rome and Project lead for Earth4All, Belgium

Session 2: Ingredients Needed to Sustainably Transform and Upgrade Europe

Thursday, 06 June

Future Forward: ESDN Youth Network Insights on Europe’s Key Issues

David Esatia, ESDN Youth Network Member, Georgia


Elisabeth Hosszu, ESDN Youth Network Member, Belgium


Lukáš Švaňa, ESDN Youth Network Member, Slovakia                        

Enhancing Governance for a more Resilient Europe

Patrizia Heidegger, Deputy Secretary General, Director for EU Governance, Sustainability and Global Policies, European Environmental Bureau, Belgium

Bringing Together all Sectors in Society to Cooperate on the SDGs for Integrated Policymaking

Judith Maas, Director SDG Nederland, Netherlands

Nordic Voluntary Subnational Review – The local level as a driver for transformational change

Åsa Hildestrand, Senior Project Manager for Nordic VSR, Nordregio, Sweden

Transformative Ideas - Ensuring a just share of progress for all

Kalina Arabadjieva, Senior Researcher, European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), Belgium

Sustainable Development Transformations in the Private Sector

Jan Noterdaeme, Senior Advisor & Co-Founder of CSR Europe, Belgium

Speakers, Topics & Presentations
Exchange Space 1 – Government Good Practices

Table 1: Belgium – Just Transition Process

Martine Vandervennet, Federal Institute for Sustainable Development, Belgium

Table 2: Germany – Addressing Transformation in the National Sustainable Development Strategy

Christina Fischer, ESDN Advisory Board Member, Federal Chancellery, Germany

Table 3: Italy – Localizing the SDGs through policy coherence for sustainable development

Andrea Innamorati, Senior Policy Advisor, Ministry for the Environment and Energy Security, Italy

Table 4: Latvia – Transformative Power of Culture in Sustainable Development

Baiba Murniece, Deputy Head of the Department of Culture Policy, Ministry of Culture, Latvia


Māra Sīmane, State Chancellery - Cross Sectoral Coordination Department, Latvia

Table 5: Malta – Process of SDG budget alignment

Francine Pace Caruana, Director of Sustainable Development, Ministry for the Environment, Energy & Regeneration of the Grand Harbour, Malta

Table 6: Netherlands – National Sustainable Development Report – Linking the SDGs to 6 Major Transitions

Sandra Pellegrom, ESDN Advisory Board Member and National SDG Coordinator, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands

Table 7: Romania – Upskilling public sector staff as sustainable development experts towards more transformative policies

Iris Constantin, Counsellor, Prime Minister’s Office – Department of Sustainable Development, Romania

Table 8: Slovakia – Steering transformative policies for sustainable development from the center of government

Valéria Bankóová, Chief of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Section, Office of the Government, Slovakia

Table 9: Flanders - Local policy planning aligned with the SDGs: the momentum of local elections in Flanders

Heleen Voeten, Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities, VVSG, Belgium

Table 10: The Finnish view on Nordic VSR and the Nordic Toolbox - Localisation and transformative policies, case: the City of Turku

Eveliina Kiema-Majanen, Senior Advisor, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, Finland


Noora Orvasto, Senior Advisor, Turku City Government, Finland

Table 11: Circular Economy

Cillian Lohan, Vice-president NAT Section, European Economic and Social Committee, Ireland

Exchange Space 2 – Stakeholder Good Practices

Table 1: International Resource Pannel – Dematerialization of the Economy

Hans Bruyninckx, International Resource Panel, Belgium

Table 2: Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

Marie Brousseau-Navarro, Deputy Commissioner and Director for Health, Office of the Future Generations Commissioner, United Kingdom 

Table 3: Spillover Effects and Transformative Policies

Bernhard Zlanabitnig, Vice President, European Environmental Bureau, Austria


Alexandra Gerasimcikova, Head of Policy and Advocacy, Counter Balance, Belgium

Table 4: EU Green and Social Deal Based on the Wellbeing-Economy

Maria Nikolopoulou, Vice President of the NAT Section, European Economic and Social Committee, Spain

Table 5: Sustainable Food Systems

Andreas Thurner, Member of European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Head of the EU and International Relations Unit of the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture, Austria

Table 6: Transformative Education for Sustainable Development

Erika Somlyay, Policy and Project Officer, Lifelong Learning Platform, Belgium

Table 7: European Business Roadmap for Just Transition

Florian Schmalz, Senior Policy Advisor for Sustainability, Eurochambres, Belgium

Table 8:Energy Transition

Adel El Gammal, Secretary General of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA), Belgium

Table 9: Transformational Tools for Civil Society Participation

Violeta Jelić,EESC Member and General Secretary of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, Belgium

Table 10: Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships as a Lever to Achieve the SDGs

Meritxell Rota Claret, Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of Catalonia, Spain

Table 11: Just transformations: How cities integrate justice and sustainability

Matthew Bach, Head of Justice, Equity and Democracy, ICLEI-Europe, Germany

ESDN Conference 2024 Closing

ESDN 2024 – Next Steps

László Borbély, ESDN President, State Counsellor, and National SDG Coordinator, Prime Minister’s Office – Department of Sustainable Development, Romania

Reflections from the European Economic and Social Committee

Peter Schmidt, President of the Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Section (NAT) at the European Economic and Social Committee, Germany

Take Home Messages from the ESDN                                     

Elisabeth Freytag-Rigler, ESDN Vice President, Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, Austria


Taru Savolainen, ESDN Vice President, Prime Minister’s Office, Finland