Press Release : ESDW 2016 was a great success with 4,212 activities taking place in 38 European countries

The second European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) took place from 30 May – 5 June 2016.

This European-wide initiative was initiated by Austria, France and Germany and supported by the European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN). Its aim is to stimulate and make visible all those activities, projects and events that promote sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Europe on a common online platform ( The ESDW 2016 was a great success with 4,212 activities taking place in 38 European countries (building on the success of the ESDW 2015 with 4,116 activities in 29 European countries). It showed the variety and breadth of sustainable development and how this concept is realized through practical activities at the European, national, regional and local level all across Europe!

The ESDW has received high level political recognition: First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans endorsed the Week in a press release and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel highlighted the importance and success of the ESDW at the recent 16th annual conference of the German Council for Sustainable Development.


Countries with a particularly high number of activities were Germany, France, Austria, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Poland, Finland, Hungary and Italy.

For the first time this year, the ESDW activities were linked to the new global UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals[1]. The activities that took place during the ESDW were linked to each of the 17 SDGs. Activities were linked most frequently to SDG 12 ‘responsible consumption and production’ (1,468 activities); SDG 2 ‘zero hunger’ (866)’; SDG 15 ‘life on land’ (745); SDG 13 ‘climate action’ (661); SDG 7 ‘affordable and clean energy’ (614); and SDG 11 ‘sustainable cities and communities’ (557).

The most common types of activities registered were education events (830 activities), followed by excursions/trips (765) and conferences/workshops (586), exhibitions/open house events (417) and festivals/markets (348). The remaining types of activities were film/theatre events, community events, contests, and sports events.

The most common types of organizers participating in the ESDW with their activities were local governments (621 activities), businesses (614), civil society organisations/NGOs (591), educational institutions (318), and regional governments (169). Other organizers[2] included national governments, research organisations, individual citizens, museums and cultural institutions, and European institutions.

The main target groups were the general public (3,454 activities), youth/students (702), local communities (392), private events (257), and professionals/experts (225).


The final event of this year’s European Green Week, “Sustainable Development Goals for a Green Future: Investing for Future Generations”, was organized in partnership with the ESDW and UNEP Europe. Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and Andrä Rupprechter, Austrian Minister of the Environment, participated in this event and welcomed a video message to the participants from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The participants also planted the ‘Vienna International Centre SDG Tree Alley’ – 17 local trees representing the 17 SDGs – in the centre of the UN Headquarters in Vienna.


In conclusion of the ESDW, Ségolène Royal, French Minister of Environment, Energy and the Sea and André Vallini, Secretary of State for Development and Francophonie, officially launched the national implementation of SDGs in France. After establishing an international experts committee, which will provide interdisciplinary scientific insights, around 180 representatives from civil society organizations (from international solidarity, environment, social, economic and educational spheres) and European embassies gathered at the event to discuss the implementation of the SDGs. The outputs will be presented in the High Level Political Forum in July.

ESDW 2017

Building on the success of the ESDW 2015 and 2016, the ESDW 2017 will take place on the same dates 30 May – 5 June. We are already looking forward to the many interesting and creative activities!


Gerald Berger, ESDN Office, Institute for Managing Sustainability, Email:

[1] Activities could be linked to up to 3 SDGs on the ESDW website. Data on activities registered on external websites was provided by the respective countries.

[2] Additional categories of organizers were used on some external websites.

Download the PDF of this Press Release here: ESDW Press Release_2016_06_16

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