ESDN Reports provide in-depth documentation of a selected topic related to sustainable development. 

December 2020 Report

"The European Green Deal"

A year after the presentation of the European Green Deal (EGD) by the European Commission, the urgency of acting on the climate crisis has not decreased. While the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic may have dominated the news since March 2020, the year 2020 is likely to be one of the three hottest years on record.[1] While the economic shutdowns around the world may have contributed to a record reduction of 7% in carbon emissions, this is likely to be only temporary as economies around the world recover.[2] This underlines the need for systemic long-term changes of the economic system.

The EGD is the Flagship Initiative of the current European Commission and was presented by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on 11 December 2019. It comprises a number of initiatives, strategies and legislative acts that, together, are intended to enable a just, sustainable and inclusive transformation of European society and economy.

While Europe is still facing notable challenges regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that the climate crisis and other ecological crises not be pushed to the side. In fact, it can be argued that the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis presents an opportunity to accelerate a sustainable transformation. In line with this, the European Union’s recovery programme, “Next Generation EU”, adopted in July 2020, reinforces many of the initiatives proposed in the EGD.

This Report aims to serve as a comprehensive overview of the EGD, the initiatives it comprises and other European strategies related to achieving a green transition and the 2030 Agenda. Chapter 1 will provide an introduction into the make-up of the EGD and the different aspects that accompany it. Chapter 2 covers some of the more technical aspects of the implementation of the EGD, especially how it is financed and the Just Transition Mechanism, that aims to ensure that no one is left behind. It will also go into the more practical issues of implementing an economic transition of unprecedented scale. Issues covered include the challenge of generating and maintaining public support and the growth dilemma. These are not a direct part of the EGD, but are crucial to achieving the aims the Commission has set out to achieve. Chapter 3 will provide a brief insight into each of the eight key areas of action that are outlined in the EGD. The fourth, and final chapter, will provide a summary and some key insights for policymakers.


[1] World Metereological Organisation. (2020, December 2). 2020 on track to be one of the three warmest years on record. Public.Wmo.Int. https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/2020-track-be-one-of-three-warmest-years-record

[2] Deutsche Welle. (n.d.). Global carbon emissions down by record 7% in 2020. Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 10 December 2020, from https://www.dw.com/en/global-carbon-emissions-down-by-record-7-in-2020/a-55900887

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Past ESDN Reports
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  • Implementing the 2030 Agenda and SDGs at the National Level
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  • Addressing European Populism from an SD Policy Perspective
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  • Budgeting for the SDGs: Experiences, Challenges and Needs
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  • Communicating Sustainable Development and the SDGs in Europe
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  • Stakeholder-Policymaker Cooperation in SDG Implementation
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  • Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in Europe
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  • SDG Indicators and Monitoring: Systems and Processes
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  • Budget Provisions in Implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs
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  • 2030 Agenda Governance Mechanisms: Local and Urban Level
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  • Role of European Parliaments in Implementing the 2030 Agenda
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  • 2030 Agenda: Communication and Awareness Raising Activities
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  • Multi-level Governance and Vertical Policy Integration
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  • Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD and the SDGs in Europe
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  • Stakeholder Activities in Implementing the 2030 Agenda
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  • Peer Learning to Support 2030 Agenda Implementation
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  • Role of Stakeholder Participation in European SD Policies
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  • 2030 Agenda: Governance for SD Approaches in Europe
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  • The European context for Monitoring and Reviewing SDGs
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  • The SDGs' Impact on the European SD Governance Framework
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  • NSDS in eight Central and Eastern European Countries
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  • 7th Environment Action Programme: Reflections on SD and Env. Policy
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  • Planetary Boundaries for SD: National Applications
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  • The Future of the European Union SDS in Light of the Rio+20 Outcomes
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ESDN Case Studies

The document below contains all 22 ESDN Case Studies, which were published between 2010 and 2015, and cover many topics in sustainable development. We provide it here as one document.

ESDN Case Studies
December 2020 Report

Written by Constanze Fetting

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