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

December 2021 Report

"European Recovery and Resilience Mechanisms - Challenges in Systemic Approaches in Sustainable Development"

The relative unpreparedness of the world for the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the concept of resilience to the forefront of discussions in the international policy arena. The EU defines resilience as the “ability not only to withstand and cope with challenges but also to undergo transitions, in a sustainable, fair, and democratic manner.”[1]  Therefore, building resilience will not only better prepare European societies for potential future pandemics or other unforeseeable events, it is also crucial to achieve the European ambitions concerning the Green and Digital Transitions. In line with this, the European Union’s pandemic recovery plans focus not only on rebuilding the economy, but also on ‘building back better’ and supporting sustainable practices, as well as building resilience towards future shocks.

The 2021 ESDN Conference was about European Recovery and Resilience Mechanisms in connection to challenges in systemic approaches in sustainable development. This Report builds on discussions at the ESDN Conference, which was attended by over 100 sustainable development policymakers and other SD professionals on 30th November& 1st December 2021. It is supplemented by desk research and several documents outlining the strategies of the European Commission, such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Chapter 1 summarises the EU’s recovery efforts and how they are related to building more resilience. Chapter 2 will explore the connection between resilience and the main aspects of sustainable development, which are economy, environment/ecology, society and governance. Chapter 3 is the conclusions that can be drawn about recovery and resilience in Europe


[1]EU Science Hub. 2022. Resilience. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 May 2022].

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  • European Recovery and Resilience Mechanisms
    Download Dec. 2021
Past ESDN Reports
  • Parliamentary Mechanisms in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda
    Download Aug. 2021
  • The European Green Deal
    Download Dec. 2020
  • Impacts of COVID-19 on SD and the SDGs in Europe
    Download July 2020
  • Implementing the 2030 Agenda and SDGs at the National Level
    Download Dec. 2019
  • Addressing European Populism from an SD Policy Perspective
    Download July 2019
  • Budgeting for the SDGs: Experiences, Challenges and Needs
    Download April 2019
  • Communicating Sustainable Development and the SDGs in Europe
    Download Jan. 2019
  • Stakeholder-Policymaker Cooperation in SDG Implementation
    Download Oct. 2018
  • Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in Europe
    Download July 2018
  • SDG Indicators and Monitoring: Systems and Processes
    Download April 2018
  • Budget Provisions in Implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs
    Download Jan. 2018
  • 2030 Agenda Governance Mechanisms: Local and Urban Level
    Download Oct. 2017
  • Role of European Parliaments in Implementing the 2030 Agenda
    Download July 2017
  • 2030 Agenda: Communication and Awareness Raising Activities
    Download April 2017
  • Multi-level Governance and Vertical Policy Integration
    Download Jan. 2017
  • Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for SD and the SDGs in Europe
    Download Oct. 2016
  • 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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  • Social Innovation in the Context of European Initiatives and Practices
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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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  • SD Transitions at International, European and National Level
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  • 7th Environment Action Programme: Reflections on SD and Env. Policy
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  • Framing Urban SD: A Multi-Level Governance Perspective
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  • Planetary Boundaries for SD: National Applications
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  • NSDS in Europe 2013: Taking stock and exploring new developments
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  • The Future of the European Union SDS in Light of the Rio+20 Outcomes
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  • The Financial Sector and Sustainable Development
    Download Dec. 2012
  • Resilience and SD: Systems Thinking and Adaptive Governance
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  • The Rio+20 Conference 2012: Objectives and Outcomes
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  • Renewing the Commitment for SD: Stock-taking of European SD
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  • New Communication of the EU Commission on CSR
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  • SD Governance & Policies in Light of Major EU Policy Strategies
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  • Innovation and SD: Linkages and Perspectives for European Policies
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  • Resource Policies in the SD context: Current Trends and Challenges
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  • ‘Beyond GDP’ Debate and Measuring Societal Progress toward SD
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  • European NSDS: Status quo and Recent Developments
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  • Research & Development for SD: European R&D Activities
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  • Future Studies in Governance for SD and Public Policy-Making
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  • Sustainable Development and Economic Growth: Initiatives in Europe
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  • SD Strategies from Different World Regions Beyond Europe
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  • Horizontal Policy Integration and SD: Governance Examples
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  • Involvement of Sub-national Authorities in NSDS Processes
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  • Governance: Interface between EU SDS and Lisbon Strategy
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  • Participatory Mechanisms in Developing and Implementing NSDS
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  • Public Policies on CSR: Overview of Government Initiatives
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  • Governance of the Lisbon Process: National Reform Programs and SDS
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  • Comparative Analysis of European Coherence for SD
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  • Strategic Approaches to Climate Change in Europe
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  • Sustainability Impact Assessments in Europe
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  • EU Sustainable Development Strategy Process in EU MS
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  • Finnish National Commission on SD and the UK’s SD Commission
    Download Dec. 2006
  • The Evaluations and Reviews of NSDS in European Countries
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  • The European Union Sustainable Development Strategy Process
    Download May 2006

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 2021 Report

Written by the ESDN Office

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