As the call for ambition from civil society continues to grow stronger on questions of sustainability and climate change, political leaders and policy makers are under increasing pressure to adjust their strategic priorities towards achieving a sustainable Europe by 2030. This is why the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) joined forces with the Committee of the Regions and the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU to host a conference on sustainable development. The European Commission and the European Parliament were invited to join the event, as well as other key national stakeholders and institutional counterparts.
The conference highlighted the position taken by the EESC in its opinion on the Reflection Paper "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030", which was due for adoption in September 2019. The EESC is at the heart of the political implementation of sustainable development as its pivotal role is to ensure that EU policies become much more responsive to proposals by citizens and civil society organisations. The event provided concrete and constructive recommendations to the new European Commission and the new European Parliament.
In addition to the high-level political opening session, which set the level of ambition on a European Sustainable Development Strategy 2030, the conference was structured around two multi-level and multi-stakeholder conversations on themes of key relevance for the next years:
- governance for sustainable development, and
- sustainable economy for sustainable societies.
These two sessions highlighted the need to place the citizens and the civil society at the heart of the implementation of the future strategy. An important element of these multi-stakeholder conversations was the inter-generational dialogue, stressing the need for genuine engagement between leaders, youth and civil society on the issue of sustainable development. Its purpose is not only to include youth in the political conversations about their future, but also to give them the opportunity to challenge the political and civil society leaders by discussing concrete solutions for a Sustainable Europe.