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Europe in Transition: How can sustainable economic growth be achieved?

Published 14 Nov 11:30

International Growth in Transition Conference, ‘Europe’s Transformation: Where People Matter’ on 14 and 15 November in Vienna – SDGs in Focus

Social, ecological and economic transformation and innovation are the focus of the 4th International Growth in Transition Conference. The conference, entitled ‘Europe`s Transformation: Where People Matter’, takes place on 14 and 15 November 2018 at the Austria Center in Vienna. It brings together experts from across Europe working in the social and environmental sectors as well as in economics and politics to explore questions of how sustainable economic growth can be achieved and how to work together to achieve the transformation of society. The conference is hosted by the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism and the Environment Agency Austria in the context of Austria’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union and is supported by the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens and 30 other partner organisations. Around 700 participants are expected to attend.

Elisabeth Köstinger, Austrian Federal Minister for Sustainability and Tourism said:

“Viable growth requires sustainability and the cooperation of all within the political, economic, scientific and social spheres. It is crucial that we ensure there is no longer any contradiction between growth and prosperity on one hand and climate protection and sustainability on the other. This conference makes an important contribution to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. We want to jointly deliver progress on transformation towards an economic and social system that respects our planetary boundaries. The common fight against climate change is a crucial factor in this respect, as it impacts every area of life. Austria has already made good progress through the national Climate and Energy Strategy #mission2030, the high share of electricity derived from renewable energy sources, the Bioeconomy Strategy, and the activities of many innovative companies. Despite this, even greater joint efforts are still needed.”

Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary‑General of the United Nations and Co‑Chair of the Ban Ki‑Moon Centre for Global Citizens said:

"Moving forward, to have a more secure world, we must base our growth on sustainability and equality. The foundation must be human rights and, as we continue to grow, we must remain resilient and open to change. We all have the power as global citizens to be a part of ensuring the sustainable development and progress of our communities, countries, and world. The SDGs are the pathway for our future and the roadmap for our continued success as human beings."

Prominent speakers from across Europe

The diverse programme for the 4th International Growth in Transition Conference includes round-table discussions, workshops and evening events inviting attendees to participate in open, constructive and controversial debate. High‑level political figures, such as the First Vice‑President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, Austrian Federal Minister Elisabeth Köstinger and the Dutch Secretary of State for Infrastructure and Water Management, Stientje van Veldhoven, will set out their positions and goals at the conference.

Renowned British sustainability experts Kate Raworth, who has achieved recognition for her concept of “Doughnut Economics” and holds teaching positions in Cambridge und Oxford, and Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at Surrey University and the author of “Prosperity Without Growth”, explore questions relating to the environment and the transformation of society.

Insightful contributions also come from the former President of the Sustainable Development Observatory, Brenda King, innovation researcher Emma Dewberry, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, Hans Bruyninckx, and the social scientist and expert on poverty Michaela Moser. The Director of the Austrian Institute for Economic Research, Christoph Badelt, and Willibald Cernko, Chief Risk Officer at ERSTE Group, provide fascinating thoughts on aspects of growth and economic development.

Leading entrepreneurs present their sustainable innovation projects  

The conference also provides an opportunity to find out more about best practice examples and eco‑innovations from around the world. Entrepreneurs, including Victoria Soelle from the Berlin DO School, Julian Paul Melchiorri from Britain (CEO of Arborea), Reet Aus from Estonia (CEO of Upmade), Nkemdilim Begho from Nigeria (Managing Director of Futuresoft), Rodrigo Aranda from Spain (CEO of Sintala Design) and Michael Fassnauer (CEO of UBIMET Austria), will all be presenting their visions and projects.

European Business Award For The Environment

The conference will see the most innovative companies in Europe recognised for their environmental activities through the awarding of the “European Business Award For The Environment”. The prize is awarded by the Directorate‑General for Environment of the European Commission in the categories of “Management”, “Product and Services”, “Process”, “Developing Country Cooperation” and “Business and Biodiversity”. Finalists include two Austrian companies: Zotter Schokoladen Manufaktur GmbH and ecop Technologies GmbH, which develops and manufactures highly efficient rotation heat pumps. The evening awards ceremony on 14 November is being hosted at Palais Niederösterreich by the European Commission, the Office of the Government of Lower Austria and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism.



About the Growth in Transition Conference

The 4th Growth in Transition Conference “Europe`s Transformation: Where People Matter” from 14 to 15 November 2018 in Vienna provides a platform for questions about sustainability and growth to be explored and discussed. It brings together a broad spectrum of perspectives from politics, the economy and civil society and invites active participation in the transformation of society. The conference is organised by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism and the Environment Agency Austria as part of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It is supported by the Ban Ki‑moon Centre for Global Citizens and 30 other partner organisations. The conference is funded by Horizon 2020, the EU Programme for Research and Innovation.

Further Conference and Programme Information:

More information about the event can be found on the event page.

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Daniel Kosak
Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, Spokesperson for the Federal Minister
+43 1 71100 60 69 18


Ingeborg Zechmann
Environment Agency Spokesperson
+43-(0)1-31304 5413


Birgit Brandner, Daniela Schildhammer
klar. Strategy and communications consultancy
Conference Press Office, “Europe’s Transformation: Where People Matter”
+43 664 922 77 87 or +43 664 522 69 25