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Europe: A Global Partner for Sustainable Development?

Assessing the External Dimensions of the European Sustainable Development Strategy

5 Oct 2004

View of Europe from space

The European Union aspires to be a force of good in the world. But does Europe truly have the capacity to understand and shape the external consequences of its policies? This was a key question raised at the 5 October 2004 roundtable in Brussels on Europe as a global partner.

The meeting, co-organised by Green Globe Network, WWF-EPO, IIED, E3G, Danish 92 Group and the RING alliance of policy research organisations, helped draw attention to the European Commission internet consultation on the EU Sustainable Development Strategy which runs until 31 October 2004. Go to: http://europa.eu.int/comm/sustainable/pages/consult_en.htm

The objectives of the roundtable were:

  1. Ensure that the review of the Göteborg Sustainable Development Strategy due to be completed in 2005 gives sufficient importance and attention to the external impacts of EU policies and the EU's capacity to contribute to sustainable development globally.
  2. Place the Sustainable Development Strategy review in the wider context of the EU's external relations, including the development agenda of the Doha trade round, the WSSD and Joint Plan of Implementation targets, the review of the Millennium Development Goals in 2005, the review of the Lisbon strategy, the Common Foreign and Security policy and the Security Strategy.
  3. Achieve closer interlocking of the EU and Member State policies and financial interventions necessary to build a critical mass of common European effort to respond to the Millennium Declaration and tackle the poverty-environment agenda.

Participants were from the European institutions, governments, NGOs and the private sector. Anders Wijkman, MEP called for fundamental changes in the way Europeans think about development including reforms in science and education and the need to establish real markets for global eco-services provided by developing countries.

Referring to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as the most comprehensive sustainable development agreement apart from the Kyoto Protocol, Christoph Bail of DG Environment said that developing countries need to start to identify areas to protect under the CBD so that serious funding could begin to be mobilised.

Stephano Manservisi, Director-General of DG Development called on NGOs to help raise awareness for sustainable approaches to development in recipient countries and drew attention to the forthcoming Atlas of International Donors which will show how aid agencies can better allocate resources.

Ivo de Boer, Director, International Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Environment, Housing and Spatial Planning of The Netherlands warned that there may not be enough time to thoroughly review and revise the EU Sustainable Development Strategy ahead of the EU Summit in the spring of 2005. Instead, the Summit should review the current functioning of the SDS identifying shortcomings and then give a mandate to revise the strategy after the Summit. He added that the Lisbon Strategy (to make the EU the world's most dynamic and competitive economy) should be placed within the framework of the European Sustainable Development Strategy.

Other recommendations from the Brussels roundtable included the need to address the EU's ecological footprint, to set up efforts to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of the benefits of globalisation, to link development cooperation policy with sustainable development, to enhance natural resource management efforts, to increase financing for development, to promote investment in sustainable development, to strengthen the Cotonou Process, and to address the security and sustainability linkages.

For more information on the roundtable results contact Nasser Yassin at the Green Globe Network.

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