Sustainable development - development that meets the needs of society today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs - is a fundamental objective of the EU.

All EU Member States have developed national strategies for sustainable development in line with international commitments made at the 1992 Rio Summit and follow-up processes. In 2001, EU Heads of State and Government agreed elements of an EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS), which were further elaborated in a ‘renewed’ EU SDS adopted in June 2006.

A ‘comprehensive review’ of the EU SDS is expected to be launched by 2011. The EU is also currently developing the Europe 2020 Strategy - the successor to the 10-year Lisbon Strategy for economic and social renewal. These parallel reflection processes on the future of two of the EU’s key overarching strategies will have important implications for the priority afforded to, and focus of, future EU environmental policies.

IEEP has been closely engaged in discussions over the EU SDS and has worked with national ministries, non-governmental organisations and on our own initiative to support its development. This includes work to elaborate the external dimension of the SDS, reinforce the EU’s institutional architecture to better support sustainable development, and the development, delivery and assessment of national sustainable development strategies.

Key work in this area:

Organisation of an international conference and policy dialogue in 2009 on the External dimension of the EU SDS which brought together experts, officials and stakeholders from EU Member States and non-EU countries. The conference discussed a number of EU policies of significance to global sustainable development and assessed the extent to which the EU is living up to the commitments made in the SDS.

IEEP has organised various events related to the SDS, including a public forum in the European Parliament on the topic From Lisbon to Gothenburg and back again? Perspectives on the renewed EU SDS in June 2006. This forum marked the launch of a book on the SDS, M. Pallemaerts & A. Azmanova (eds.), The EU and Sustainable Development: Internal and External Dimensions, Brussels: VUB Press 2006

Regarding work in this area please contact:

Marc Pallemaerts
Sirini Withana