On 25th October 2012, the European Union Environment Council reaffirmed its commitment to an ambitious follow up to Rio+20. In particular, it will attempt to achieve this through reviewing the European Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) by 2014 at the latest, to provide an updated EU-wide policy framework to deliver sustainable development.

The EU SDS is a mechanism emanating from Gothenburg European Council of 2001 and was last renewed in 2009. It rests on four separate pillars – economic, social, environmental and global governance – which need to reinforce one another. The economic, social and environmental consequences of all policies thus need to be examined in a coordinated manner and taken into account when those policies are being drawn up and adopted. The EU also needs to assume its international responsibilities with regard to sustainable development, whose various aspects – including democracy, peace, security and liberty – need to be promoted beyond EU borders.

This strategy, which complements the Lisbon Strategy, shall be a catalyst for policy makers and public opinion, to change society’s behaviour. It is built around measures covering the main challenges identified, as well as cross-cutting measures, adequate funding, the involvement of all stakeholders and effective policy implementation and follow-up.

The strategy is based on the following guiding principles: promotion and protection of fundamental rights, solidarity within and between generations, the guarantee of an open and democratic society, involvement of citizens, involvement of businesses and social partners, policy coherence and governance, policy integration, use of best available knowledge, the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle.

Full report from the 3194th Environment Council meeting is available here.