Country Profiles

Forum Sustainable Austria

Forum Nachhaltiges Oesterreich (FORUM)



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Phone: + 43 1 8956 245

Address: FORUM Nachhaltiges Österreich (FORUM)

c/o Nature Friends International

Diefenbachgasse 36

A-1150 Vienna



Composition and Membership

The FORUM was originally installed in 2002 by the Austrian Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, replacing the previous Austrian Council for Sustainable Development, ‘ÖRNE’, created in 1997 and responsible for Austria’s NSDS (NSTRAT). FORUM was re-launched in 2010, following the adoption of a renewed National Strategy (ÖSTRAT).

Chair: Prof. Dr. Hubert Dürrstein, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Science in Vienna / Dr. Franz Küberl, Caritas Austria.

Coordinator: Dr. Christian Baumgartner.

FORUM has 43 Council Members from a range of private/NGO/research institutions (none are from government/public bodies), appointed in a personal capacity by the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. There is no fixed term of appointment.

A Steering Group of 8 members, the Chairperson and ‘around two’ Office staff is elected for a two-year term. Its decisions are taken by qualified majority voting. The focus of the Steering Group is strategy; it debates the annual work programme, follows its substantive implementation and decides on public statements.

An ‘Experts Pool’ is formed of c. 30 members from the scientific community and key

NGOs, participating in working groups, consultative work and promotion of the Council. Working Groups (currently 4/5, set by topic) often include members of the Austrian Committee for Sustainable Development (the second advisory board to the ÖSTRAT, comprising high-level representatives of the Federal Ministries, the states and the “Socio-Economic Partnership”).


Mission Statement

The FORUM supports and monitors the drafting and implementation of the ÖSTRAT (Austria’s NSDS) as a critical advisor/counsellor to the authorities in charge (BKA and BMLFUW). The FORUM’s task is ‘to present a horizontal, multidimensional and interdisciplinary view of sustainable development as well as to deliver expertise and input from different substantive and societal points of view’. FORUM works at national level to ‘identify unsustainable societal trends and important topics that merit social debate and political action in order to enforce proactive agenda setting’; and at international level to promote SD policies within Europe and the global community.


Role and Functions

  • advising on government policy or making policy recommendations, including NSDS;
  • scrutinising government policy; and
  • stakeholder engagement.


Recent Activities

As well as providing expertise and advice on the NSDS (as above), FORUM:

  • Provides expertise and knowledge to authorities and social partners; media, multipliers and the public;
  • Monitors and holds government to account, including through requests for public dialogue; and
  • Identifies and prepares material for public debate.

FORUM provides the following decision-making aids for policy-makers and wider:

  • Thought lines ('Thoughts on the time we live in’): Short papers broaching new (sustainability) topics and triggering discussions;
  • Target groups: specialist circles, policy makers;
  • Reflection space: Basic position papers or theme-related events; and
  • Transfer space: Hosting discussions on sustainability issues, sometimes top-level talks with a responsible minister or initiatives taken by members of the Committee for SD.