In the ESDN Spotlight video series, the ESDN features informative videos on important topics in sustainable development. The videos cover a wide range of stakeholders who are active in sustainable development, such as academia, NGOs, the businesses sector, research and youth.
The ESDN achieves openness and trust among its members through its informal environment. “We are a family of practitioners who have a joint objective”, Wolfram explains.
The most recent milestones are the adoption of the 2030 Agenda at UN-level and the understanding that the ESDN developed at the Luxembourg Conference prior to the general assembly that adopted the 2030 Agenda. In the future, the ESDN will continue to deliver expertise on more innovative frameworks and to pursue the global Sustainable Development Goals.
Circular Economy has gained significant importance for many governments and businesses across Europe. However, there are still differences in the stage of understanding when it comes to circular change.
“In order to be implemented effectively, circular change needs a systematic approach, which has to be adapted to individual countries and the desires of their citizens”, says Ladeja Godina Kosir. In this interview, she shares her experience in developing national circular economy road-mapping processes and discusses the most important aspects when developing them.
In this Interview, Imme Scholz highlights the importance of the interaction between policy and science: “Evidence-based policy learning requires continuous communication between researchers and public administrators.” This interaction enables the definition of problems and unresolved questions in society and supports evidence-based solutions.
However, scientific knowledge does not liberate policymakers from making decisions. In order to ensure good decision-making, policy learning needs to provide a broad knowledge basis, which includes good and relevant data as well as policy evaluation analysis. In doing so, policy learning can counteract populism and support evidence-based policymaking in the future.
This Spotlight interview examines the rise of sustainable finance and its impact on the 2030 Agenda. Regulations and public funds are drivers of sustainable finance, and the European Union has put forward many ideas to stimulate sustainable investing.
However, not only governments have to invest into sustainable development, but also private investors. “There is not a lack of money, but a lack of understanding how to invest sustainably”, says Alexander Bassen. The EU Taxonomy and ESG ratings play a significant role in enhancing sustainable investment.
“The SDGs are challenging for everyone. It is out of question that we have to accelerate innovative and joint actions to be taken at all levels.”
Karoline Edtstadler highlighted the significance of approaching the European, the national, the parliamentarian, the regional and the local level when developing actions for reaching the SDGs. She said that it is also important that we collectively benefit from the synergies and that this is why it is crucial to have discussions and the ESDN workshop (June 2021).
Climate protection is a leading theme for all policy areas and environmental policies require a broad scientific background. As independent organizations, think tanks link research to policy and provide options and solutions to improve policies which are actually actionable.
This Spotlight Interview examines the role of think tanks for policy making and sustainable development. “As think tanks are not enclosed to election cycles or votes, they have the freedom to look more broadly on issues in the society and identify the topics of tomorrow”, Camilla Bausch says. Working in much longer time spans than politicians, think tanks develop solutions which are sustainable in the long term.
“Environmental policy and sustainability issues have always been in need of democratic and parliamentary attention for integration into our policies”
Leonore Gewessler’s speech highlighted the importance of parliamentarians to make the right decisions to achieve the 2030 Agenda, but also the need for civil servants to implement those decisions. She explained how Austria is building back better and what is necessary to leverage synergies to achieve the SDGs.
“Ahead of us lies the path towards a truly comprehensive transformation."
Europe has "a leading role to play in this regard. We must prove that economic growth can be decoupled from emissions and the consumption of resources."
"We must not stop encouraging, informing, inspiring and also criticizing each other time and again when it comes to pursuing the most sustainable way of living and working possible."
Verena Madner talks about the procedures and challenges of working out the Viennese Smart City Strategy and the importance of monitoring progress.
National policy makers can learn a lot from the city level, according to Verena Madner, for example the holistic approach towards tackling challenges.
When we discuss the future, it is crucial to listen to the voices of the future. That’s why we asked Youth Representatives from all over Europe to tell us their concerns, wishes and demands for a sustainable future and their vision of Europe in 2050. Their message is clear: In a sustainable Europe, we address climate change and biodiversity loss as the most urgent challenge. Luckily, we have the solutions. As it turns out, it is not so hard to design a transition that keeps in mind the concerns of the youth, guarantees social harmony and justice and holds decision-makers accountable.
In the interview, Leena-Kaisa describes how Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, involved all stakeholders in establishing a roadmap towards a sustainable Finland. She explains the different dimensions of circular economy that Sitra works on, including those that go beyond natural resources. One of the core mechanisms to promote a circular economy is legislation. Leena-Kaisa identifies the key regulatory mechanisms that are necessary to make the circular economy more competitive.
The biggest challenge of multi-stakeholder councils is to find a consensus between up to fifty members with different perspectives and visions. The different structures, tasks and capacities of councils around Europe make it so their agenda setting ability is different and not all councils are taken equally serious by the governments they are advising.
The SDGs are global in their outlook so they have to be localized to be integrated into cities’ strategies. Jasmin Miah argues that when change happens at a local level it is more effective in changing people’s beliefs and attitudes, as they can see the impacts more directly. Yet, there is a lot of room for improvement for the European Union in terms of integrating cities and other sub-national stakeholders.
According to James Gomme, there are huge opportunities for businesses who embrace the SDGs and sustainable development. He predicts that those businesses that adopt principles of sustainable development into their business strategy and practice right now will be more successful in the long run. Business as usual is no longer an option.
Finnish scientist Eeva Furman was part of a group of fifteen scientists who co-authored the Global Report on Sustainable Development for the UN. This report aimed at bringing together the knowledge about sustainable development from different regions and disciplines. While the situation is serious, the report finds that from a scientific perspective, a sustainability transformation is still possible.
In his interview, Guillaume discusses many topics relating to sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, such as the Science Policy Interface, the role of businesses in implementing the SDGs, the SDSN Sustainable Development Report 2019, sustainability as the EU’s new narrative, the Six Transformations for a sustainable future, and the vision for the next 10 years of the 2030 Agenda.