On the 21st February, E3G held a Thinking Event in Brussels in association with our friends at The Centre. The aim of the event was to undertake some critical shared thinking on whether Europe can become a pathfinder for the global transition to sustainable development. A focus was placed on the economic considerations Europe would face in rising to this challenge.
The discussions at the roundtable revealed a shared sense that:
- The promotion of the Lisbon Agenda has pushed forward serious thinking on sustainable development, and the two are increasingly seen to be reinforcing.
- If Europe is to promote sustainable development at a global level it needs to lead by example. There is currently a coordinated approach to climate change policy but this consistency is not evident in many areas including energy or trade policy.
- Europe has strong reasons for taking on this role, however it faces barriers in terms of a lack of confidence in the capacity of the EU to become economically and politically strong enough; an overly defensive and protectionist approach to global affairs; and a lack of trust by citizens in the EU as demonstrated by the French and Dutch “no” votes.
- Not only must Europe consider whether it wants to assume this responsibility, and whether it has the capacity/capability, it must also consider how such an approach can be made desirable to its citizens.
The event report and list of participants are attached.