2015 European sustainability awareness week called for

Representatives of the French, Austrian and German Governments are advocating a Europe-wide sustainable development awareness week. This will be an opportunity to link up the three countries’ existing na-tional awareness weeks and give them a European dimension. It is planned that the European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN) will be calling for campaigns to be undertaken as of 2015.

This idea was presented to the diplomatic missions representing EU member states in Berlin on 25 June 2014. Representatives of the EU em-bassies in Berlin and members of the ESDN met at the Federal Chancel-lery to engage in the discussion, at the joint invitation of the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Foreign Office.

Marlehn Thieme, Chairwoman of the German Council for Sustainable Development, told those in attendance about the German sustainability awareness campaign being held from 23 to 29 June 2014. The Council had called on businesses, schools, churches and members of the public to present what they do in the field of sustainability during this week. This represents continuity with similar activities by the Council in 2012 and 2013.

Representing the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Stéphane Bernaudon underlined the ministry’s interest for a joint Europe-wide awareness week. He described the awareness week which has been held in France each April for the last twelve years, com-prising up to 3000 events.

Austria also has a tradition of sustainability awareness campaigns, holding them annually in autumn. The practice was outlined by Dr Wolfram Tertschnig, co-chair of the ESDN Steering Group and Head of Department at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. He announced that the ESDN would be approaching the new European Commission to ask for more support for the topic.

In the words of the European network’s co-chair, “the many worthwhile activities run by businesses, state bodies and civil society as part of the existing awareness weeks show that sustainability is really being brought to life on the ground.”

Dr Peter Rösgen, the German Government’s representative, underlined the need for the concept of sustainability to be embedded at all levels – local, regional, national, European and global. Awareness weeks, he said, made an important contribution to that endeavour. He went on to say that sustainability was a fundamental principle underpinning the German Government’s political action, which was why the Federal Chancellery was supporting the proposal for Europe-wide awareness weeks starting in 2015.

Background information:

The ESDN, or European Sustainable Development Network, links the var-ious countries’ people responsible for sustainable development. Chair-manship of the ESDN Steering Group is held by Austria. Germany and France are members of the Steering Group.

In her speech to the annual conference of the Council for Sustainable De-velopment on 2 June 2014, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel referred to the existing awareness-week initiatives in Austria, France and Germany and proposed that the German campaign be linked up with similar activi-ties in other countries.

More information on Germany’s sustainability awareness week is availa-ble (in German) at http://www.aktionstage-nachhaltigkeit.de/