“Sustainability & Sustainability Policy as Opportunity and Answer to Democratic Challenges of EU Policy and Politics”

12 November 2019, Brussels, Belgium

In order to implement the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs on the European level, a transformative approach to environmental and sustainability policy is needed, as questions of democracy, participation, adequate frame and narratives are crucial. However, the fields of environmental and sustainability policy are relatively unconnected to the areas of participation and democratic policies. The synergies of both debates have to be identified in order to overcome the lock-in of sustainability policy on the European level, as well as the lack of a convincing citizen-oriented European vision and narrative that also includes a way to address rising populist attacks against issues of global responsibility, transformative changes and democratic values.

Sustainability policy addresses the whole range of policy fields in a short-term and long-term perspective, ranging from the local level to the global level. The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs do not only define a global vision of the common good for everyone, everywhere, but also call for a great societal transformation to achieve its vision. However, sustainable development policy is difficult to get into the mainstream of policy-making, especially on the EU level, as its role for strategic policy-making with respect to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs is still weak.

At the same time, however, accelerating technical, economic, social and cultural changes has led to a loss in shared basic values and a crisis of democratic institutions and procedures due to nationalistic, xenophobic populist forces. Participatory and democratic policies and movements, therefore, are especially needed that strengthen and guide the European integration and European policy-making processes and define a new societal mission that reaches beyond individual policy fields, beyond this generation and beyond European borders.  

The potentials and limits of linking both discourses could help to incentivize and foster the debate in European institutions on how to use transformative policy towards sustainable development as a vision and mission to future democratic, open, global responsible and integrative European policy.

Keynote presentations
Session 1: Reality Check – The Current State of Democracy in Europe as Risk for (Global Responsible) SD
Session 2: Discourse Check – The current state of intellectual and conceptual grounding/consulting policy at EU level