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The European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) has just started

After having been postponed from the usual spring week to adapt the events to the circumstances resulting from the Covid-19 situation, the European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) has finally opened its fifth edition. From 18 September to 8 October, the ESWD 2020 edition takes indeed place with thousands of events, both virtually and in presence, involving more than 20 different countries European-wide.

The first seed of this annual initiative was planted on the 28th October 2014 by the Environment Ministers of France, Germany and Austria who jointly presented at Environment Council the idea, immediately welcomed by the Commission and several Member States. Thus, one year after, the ESDW first edition was held with the aim of promoting and making visible, on a common platform, activities and projects that foster sustainable development by working towards the objectives of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in September 2015 by all United Nations Member States (Figure).

As described on the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs website page, “Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a
global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.”

The ESDW plays its role in this ambitious, universal and transformative agenda by yearly calling for active stakeholders engagement on the key issues described by the SDGs, and by raising the collective awareness on this topic thanks to the organization of bottom-up activities thematically linked to these goals.

The common belief is that, in order to make the 2030 Agenda a reality, broad ownership of the SDGs must translate into a strong commitment by all stakeholders to implement the global goals.

In this context, the 2020 ESDW edition longs for being even more crucial, since it marks the official beginning of the “decade of action” to deliver the SDGs launched by the UN General Assembly in September 2019.

The initiative has always been open to all forms of government agencies, research centres, museums, foundations, educational institutions, associations, community organizations, businesses and NGOs, as well as individual citizens, etc. The required common criterion for eligibility is the interest in addressing one or more dimensions of sustainable development
without being exclusively profit-oriented.

The ESDW represents the umbrella for all the existing European national sustainable development weeks and in the last 2019 year it has been able to include about 6704 activities in 28 countries. These days, only in Italy, the so called “Festival dello Sviluppo Sostenibile 2020” (Sustainable Development Festival), coordinated by the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS), is involving over 270 organizations from the economic and social fields to create a single widespread and inclusive event made of hundreds of different activities throughout the national territory. Science for Democracy and EUMANS will be present during the Festival with a panel dedicated to the European Citizens Initiative

Now more than ever, the realisation of initiatives in support of sustainable development (as such the ESDW) was desirable and essential. The current pandemic situation has indeed catalysed and highlighted the necessity of finding sustainable solutions able to deliver relief, support, and to improve “sharing and caring” responses to the crisis in the spirit of the SDGs.