The success story of the European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) was born out of an initiative of the Environment Ministers from Austria, Germany and France

Leonore Gewessler

At an Environmental Council Meeting in 2014, the three ministers jointly proposed to create the ESDW. For one week each year activists, entities and institutions from all over Europe, which are committed to sustainable development would be invited to organize events and make them visible on one common platform. The goal is to disclose and […]

At an Environmental Council Meeting in 2014, the three ministers jointly proposed to create the ESDW. For one week each year activists, entities and institutions from all over Europe, which are committed to sustainable development would be invited to organize events and make them visible on one common platform. The goal is to disclose and promote that kind of engagement.

In all ESDWs that have taken place since 2015, there has been a strong link to the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The number of registered events has increased each year, culminating in over 6,700 initiatives in 2019 in about 30 European countries. Over these years, our concurrent Austrian initiative “Sustainability Action Days” managed to launch some 2100 contributions for this concerted European effort dedicated to make the manifold means and merits of the Agenda 2030 better accessible and understandable.

Last year, ESDW was making its debut on the global stage when it started to collaborate with the UN SDG Action Campaign during the Global Day to Act for SDGs on 25 September. That cooperation and collaboration has been renewed during the ESDW 2020, which, due to the Covid-19 crisis, is specifically highlighting the manifold digital formats of engagement and interaction, and has been moved to 20 – 26 September to coincide with the Global Day to Act for SDGs.

It is via such partnerships and the active engagement with European citizens that makes the ESDW a beacon for sustainable development in Europe. As millions of Europeans have attended and taken part in ESDW events over the last five years, it also shows the entire world that sustainable development and the SDGs of Agenda 2030 matters to a great many people and organizations.

At a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2030 Agenda serves as an important compass for political decisions that safeguard public health, social and economic security, and environmental sustainability. This is certainly not the time to postpone efforts for sustainable development: rather, the guidance provided by the SDGs is needed more than ever now, as Austria, Europe and the world attempt to build back better. The pandemic made us aware of the vulnerability of our social and economic systems. But there is no vaccination against the climate crisis!

It is therefore with great pleasure and anticipation that my Ministry, together with the German Council for Sustainable Development, continues to support the ESDW and the very significant outreach it undertakes to raise collective awareness about sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda, and the SDGs in Europe by providing a platform to those who put awareness raising into concrete actions.

Leonore Gewessler
Austrian Minister for Climate Action

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