Sustainable Development Goals

Austrian Court of Auditors (Rechnungshof) confirms failures to implement the SDGs in Austria

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Austrian Court of Auditors: From June to September 2017, the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) carried out an audit of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Austria. The audit aimed in particular at assessing the legal framework conditions and the national recognition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the responsibilities of the Federal Government and the coordination across all levels of government. A further objective was to evaluate the initial situation (stocktaking and gap analysis), the implementation plan and the target attainment monitoring system, as well as the inclusion of the civil society, the reporting system and the impacts of the SDGs. The audit was carried out at the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs – in their capacity as coordinating entities regarding the national implementation of the SDGs – as well as at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology – as federal ministries selected as examples by the ACA. The audited period largely spanned the years from 2016 through 2017.

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Roland Leithenmayr VFV



Wicked Problems and the 17 SDGs

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The members of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD) in Vienna/Austria debate how to solve the problem of poverty in context to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (17 SDGs). The members struggle to define the problem or let alone to solve it. Linked to other issues like the economy, education, nutrition, and fairness, and so on, the solution to one aspect of the problem often reveals other more complicated problems.  Often the members of  CSD find no perfect solution to a “wicked problem”, although many solutions might fit well and help to mitigate the problem.

Roland Leithenmayr VFV

The unsustainable history  of SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle)

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SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) are becoming increasingly popular – a paradox!

Before US car companies developed the new car type- the SUV- there were ingenious constructions of cars with fuel consumption of about 1.2 liters per 100 km. This was in line with rising mobility demands, dwindling supplies of oil, and growing concerns about climate change. Although the SUVs required on average 10 times as much fuel, the US government favored the SUV, offered tax incentives and stopped promoting the further development of fuel-efficient and electric cars. The SUV was a triumphal development,  still not ending.  Moreover, the US government called on its citizens to buy a house outside the city and offered low down payment and interest on the loans. The author of this posting himself acquired a house near Philadelphia, where the bank granted him a 120% loan with a low-interest rate and, also, put a large tax-exempt SUV in front of the garage door. The author lived with the feeling of being able to afford everything in the USA. There were hardly any reasons to pay much attention to “sustainability” and environment. One looked fascinated at global finance capitalism and was annoyed only by the outrageous bonuses to the acrobats of the financial circus. These magicians wrapped the mortgages in Christmas paper and sold them on to banks around the world to reduce the risk of US state-owned mortgage lenders (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). In 2007 and 2008, the mortgage bank crisis broke out, which in turn disrupted the global financial system. The investment banks, which were commissioned by the US government, bet for themselves that the mortgages become worthless. Back to SUV! The aforementioned urban sprawl and the tax-subsidized fuel-cutting SUV combined with the shock of crude oil prices in 2007 and 2008 and mortgage interest rates triggered the crisis, which can be outlined as follows (Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Factor Five, The Formula One sustained growth, 2009): 2007: world oil prices go crazy -> long-distance commuting becomes a nightmare in the US -> the pumped-up houses lose value -> subordinate mortgages turn into financial junk -> mortgage banks crash. This triggers an avalanche, many car stocks are scrap. Over the next 20 years, the shift to electric motors and digitization will lead to further economic upheavals that require a transformation of capitalism (destructive innovation, Joseph Schumpeter).

Roland Leithenmayr VfV


“Business Call to Action” to achieve Sustainable Development Goals

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Enterprises want to open the huge underserved market of potential customers, – people with low incomes. To this end, businesses develop new business models reflecting customers, employees, suppliers respectively all affected stakeholders in their value chains. The concurrent inclusion of “poor people” in value-added chains dramatically improve their access to goods, services and income, and their situation. The goal is that companies contribute achieving the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations program “Business Call to Action” supports enterprises in their application of “Inclusive Business Models” especially for developing and emerging countries,,

Roland Leithenmayr

Presentation: Bridge for Cities, Belt & Road Initiative: Developing Green Economies for Cities, 2nd BRI Event –, 26 to 28 September 2017, Vienna International Centre Vienna, Austria


Sustainable Development Goals – Development of Games and Quizes

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The World’s Future –  IIASA and the OECD team up to test a simulation game developed by IIASA researchers on Sustainable Development Goals With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 SDGs, the international community has created a comprehensive and indivisible set of goals attaching equal importance to environmental, social and economic concerns. This acknowledges for the first time that transformation to sustainable and resilient societies cannot happen with a “business as usual”, siloed approach and that a systems approach is a necessary condition for successful transformation.




‘2030 Hive Mind’, a Sustainable Development Goals game


Sustainable development quiz: what do you know about the global goals?

New mobile app launches to drive action on Sustainable Development Goals

The Global Goals – Memory Game

Do you know your Global Goals? What about the progress that has been made since 2000, and the challenges that still remain for our planet and its people until 2030? 

Test your memory skills and your expertise on sustainable development with this game!

Can you choose the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals?

SDG Game & Quiz – Miniaturansicht des ScreenshotsSDG Game & Quiz

SDG Game & Quiz enables all people to easily learn about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs, invokes the importance of doing everything possible to achieve them and enables users to suggest solutions to achieve them.

The SDGs are the targets of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development announced on 25-27 September 2015 at the United Nations, New York.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are all featured in the comprehensive game, enabling users to obtain a full education on the SDGs while having fun playing the game and taking the quiz.

Board Game

The game aims to help teach children around the world about the Sustainable Development Goals in a simple and child-friendly way.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

2017 Global food policy report

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FPRI’s flagship report reviews the major food policy issues, developments, and decisions of 2016, and highlights challenges and opportunities for 2017 at the global and regional levels. This year’s report looks at the impact of rapid urban growth on food security and nutrition and considers how food systems can be reshaped to benefit both urban and rural populations. Drawing on recent research, IFPRI researchers and other distinguished food policy experts consider a range of timely questions, read more 

2017 Global food policy report

Ilona Graenitz  & Dora Vrdlovec




International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 11.February 2017

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Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (SDG 5) will make a significant contribution not only to the economic development of the world but to progress across all the 17 SDGs and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well.

Currently, in countries where conservative Islam and/or the patriarchal structure predominates, women and girls are discriminated to visit higher schools and universities; although, women want to contribute to science. However, there are Islamic states (such as Saudi Arabia) which promote the education of women, but the women stay mostly unemployed after graduation because of gendered seclusion in job opportunities. The attitude of male superiority and female subjection contributes to the general misinterpretation of the Quran (Muslim people’s main religion text) and misunderstanding of the Muslims: So many Islamic experts say that this patriarchal viewpoint is unrelated to Islamic values.

What could women and girls do to fight against this women-hostile Islam or patriarchal attitude? Should women and girls living in democratic countries demonstrate in front of embassies of arch-conservative countries and/or use the social media more effectively  Many Muslim women or women coming from Islamic- or patriarchal controlled countries studied successfully at universities in Austria, and their parents are very proud!

In the democratic countries like in Austria, the situation is different for women and girls, but still needs improvement: flexible working time, work-balance, enlightenment and opportunities for women and girls, etc.

When a woman is helpless, without rights and ignorant, half of the nation is sick and paralyzed 
 Mammad Amin Rasulzade, Chairman of the National Council of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.


Roland Leithenmayr, VfV, 16. February 2017

Does skilled migration undermine Sustainable Development?

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Experts like Paul Collier, Professor of Economics at Oxford University, argue that skilled migration leaving low-income countries is too high: it undermines the sustainable development of the home-country, and the people left behind. Other experts like Justin Sandefur, a research fellow at the Centre for Global Development, contradict that those emigrants send money back home and influence positively their families, clans and politics. Returning to their home-country, they are equipped with better skills and attitudes to speed up the democratic process. The motivation-drain and brain-drain in developing countries need to be better quantified 1). Adequate registration of the emigrant (refugees) and interviews would provide a clearer picture of who is leaving and why, how many leave, how long they want to stay, skilled or unskilled, in search of education or job. They more people leave their country so less is the motivation to stay. Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals would motivate they migrants (refugees) to return to their country or stay there. It needs a mechanism for the coordinated return. In the opinion of the author of this posting, we have to empathise with the situation of refugees. The asylum procedures and conditions, like waiting for asylum, no work permits, asylum on time, no adequate training and German lessons, no immediate reunification of the family is counter-productive and demotivating.


Paul Collier, How does emigration affect the people left behind in poor countries.

Justin Sandefur, Migration and development: who bears the burden of proof?

Both commentaries are in Making It, Number 19,

  1. The analytical foundation for quantifying and qualifying motivation delivers Nobel Laureate Georg Akerlof.

Roland Leithenmayr

Post-Capitalism vs. Sustainability

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The WU Center for Sustainability’s mission is to establish the Principality of Sustainability at WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business in Vienna / Austria) a key objective of teaching, research, knowledge exchange, and university management. The Sustainability Controversies talks add controversy to the public debate about sustainability. The Following Sustainability Controversies have already taken place:

Sustainability controversy I “No business as usual. Sustainability between privatization and politicization” on January 14, 2014.

Harald Welzer lectured about his ideas on sustainability and discussed this together with the interdisciplinary panel: Ulrich Brand, Professor of International Politics at the University of Vienna; Helga Kromp-Kolb, professor Meteorological and director of the Center for Global Change and Sustainability at BOKU; Andreas Novy, Professor at the Institute of Regional Development and Environment.  The panel discussed the role of the individual and the policy on the path to a more sustainable operating company.Fred Luks moderated the evening as director of the WU-Competence Center for Sustainability.



Sustainability Controversy II “What business do we want? About money, welfare and sustainability.” 15 May 2014.

This controversy took place over Christian Felber new book “Geld (Money)” in which it comes to “new rules of the game” a democratic monetary and financial system. With him discussed Silvia Angelo, Director of Economic Policy in the Vienna Chamber of Labor and member of the University of WU, Fritz Breuss (WU), Rainer Hauser, independent consultant and Senior Advisor at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and Franz Schellhorn, director of Agenda Austria about the role of money, and regulatory issues relating to responsibility in democracy.  Fred Luks (WU) moderated the controversial discussion.



Sustainability controversy III “Living well or living rightly?” on November 4, 2014

The philosopher Robert Pfaller presented his books “Gut leben oder korrekt leben, Living well or living rightly” and “What is worth living for” and discussions about sustainability, ethics, and politics.  The podium – WU Professor Verena Madner, the philosopher and journalist Andrea Roedig and the WU student Nathalie Spittler – and the audience intensively discussed various facets of the issue, for example, questions of regulation, responsibility and quality of life. Moderator of the third sustainability controversy was Fred Luks, director of the WU-competence center for sustainability.

Sustainability controversy IV “participation. Royal way in the sustainability or pseudo-democratic nightmare?” on March 24, 2015

The fourth episode of the series “WU sustainability controversy” discussed the issue of more participation: which opportunities are available and which risks arise in context to a more of participation. Robert Misik, journalist and nonfiction author from Vienna/Austria led the discussion with WU Professor and Vice-Rector for Personnel Michael Meyer, Michaela Moser, FH-Professor at the FH St. Pölten, and Rita Trattnigg independent researcher and process-consultant-coach and the audience whether more participation is now a silver bullet in the sustainability or may be a pseudo-democratic nightmare.  „Nachhaltige Gestalterin“

Sustainability controversy V “The economy of Sharing” contribution to sustainable development or rejuvenation of capitalism” on May 11, 2015

The participants argued about the hopes and fears connected with the “economy of sharing.” The main speaker was Reinhard Loske of the Witten / Herdecke University, one of the most prolific actors of the German sustainability discourse. With him discussed Richard Bärnthaler, WU student, Beate Littig, Institute for Advanced Studies, and Sigrid Stix, an economics expert at the Federal Environment Agency.

Sustainability controversy VI “post-growth economy! Overgrowth limits, limits growth and the search for sustainable management concepts.” on September 7, 2015

The principal speaker Niko Paech, one of the major post-growth economists, calls for a radical rethinking and abandoning the growth paradigm and considers that a sustainable economy is possible only if Exnovation and deceleration are more important as innovation and expansion. With him discussed Silvia Angelo, Director of Economic Policy in the Vienna Chamber of Labour and Member of the University Council of WU; Josef Hackl, Head of Sustainable Development at the Federal Environment Agency, WU professor and head of the Institute for Ecological Economics Sigrid Stagl, and Lorenz Stör, student WU master program “Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy”.

The presentation of Niko Paech to “post-growth economy. Overgrowth limits, limits growth and the search for sustainable management concepts” -> here. The Standard published a follow-up report on the event -> here.

Niko Paech believes that we are at a turning point in “green growth.” The so-called energy turnaround has failed: flopped bioenergy and negative CO2 balance. The reasons for the failure are the different rebound effects. On the one hand, we have the (ethical) growth boundary and on the other we are under compulsion for growth. The result is the search for sustainable management concepts. The peak is everywhere: raw materials, crude oil, water, rare earth, and so on. Through the dynamic of prosperity, the demands of the human are growing faster and ultimately leads to psychological and physical limits. The mental growth boundaries (economic pressure) are due to time shortage and overwork and are the cause of increasing depression and digital dementia.Niko Paech recommends a four-step reduction program: sufficiency, self-sufficiency, Regional economics and remodeling of the industry.

Sigrid Stagl trusts that the problems are well described, but still there is no holistic solution in sight, –  no effective decoupling mechanisms exists. Silvio Angelo points out to the ecological self-deception: the problem lies in the distribution of wealth caused by the neo-liberalism. She considers the privatization as no sustainable (she requests a reverse indeed) and growth is not a goal. Niko Paech recommends a different approach: the consumer behavior needs to change, – we must change ourselves and others have to change too. Things are changing for the better, but it is still too little. Lorenz Stör focuses on his power theorem. He criticizes the arguments put forward by Niko Paech as unrealistic and naïve.  The power politics and interests of the multinational companies will not allow any realization. Lorenz Stör’s conclusion: Not the politics and economics can generate a change (transformation), but the society: Profit versus society. The debate reflected the power of civil society. It takes civil disobedience, and alliances must be formed to fight against the elites. Niko Paech counts his transformation scenarios again with his conclusion: if decoupling is not working, then politics is at the end. Private exercise programs (experimental fields) are required to implement the transformation because individuals ultimately make the decisions, – people behave independently despite manipulation. Niko Paech urges the reform of the multilateral institutions like the WTO, IMF, World Bank to accelerate the necessary transformation. There were only a few neo-liberal views who defended entrepreneurship and the pursuit of profits: the approach of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) includes the concept of common good “public wealth”, –  increasingly adopted by political actors of the progressive left.

Sustainability controversy VII “Degrowth business? About sustainability, limits to growth and transformation processes.” on October 13, 2015

The discussion viewed “degrowth” from a microeconomic perspective: companies that do not explicitly focus on growth. The WU-Master students Maria Juschten and Heidi Leonhardt investigated closely at the growth mechanisms, reasons for the growth and so-called post-growth companies. Their contribution to the debate, – usually performed at the macroeconomic level,  is focusing on entrepreneurial perspectives. The discussion offered new insights into controversial topics of sustainability. On the panel discussed Ulrich Brand (Professor of International Politics, University of Vienna), Heidi Leonhardt, (student in the master program “Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy” of the Vienna University of Economics) and Eveline Steinberger-Kern (Founder and Managing Director, The Blue Minds Company).

  • Brand, Ulrich (2015): Degrowth und Post-Extraktivismus: Zwei Seiten einer Medaille? Working Paper 5/2015 der DFG-KollegforscherInnengruppe Postwachstumsgesellschaften. Jena. Link

Sustainability controversy VIII “degrowth transformations: Paths in the next economy” January 19, 2016

Preliminary text:  Because of the decisions of the Paris summit on climate change, terms such as reducing and shrinkage of the economy are on the top of the sustainability policy agenda. The question is:  How does ecological deconstruction complement with the economic goals and how can transformation towards sustainability succeed? André Reichel, Professor für Critical Management and  Sustainable Development at the Karlshochschule International University in Karlsruhe, Germany, researched this topic and presented a model with a Multi-Level-Perspective: Landscape, Regime, and Niche stressing the role of entrepreneurial activities. He discussed at the podium with Verena Madner, Head of the Research Institute of Urban Management and Governance at the Vienna University of Economics, Alexandra Strickner, co-founder and chairwoman of ATTAC Austria and Lorenz Stör, a graduate of the WU Master’s program “Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy.” Fred Luks moderated the evening as director of the WU-Competence Center for Sustainability.

The Author of this posting attended this event, and he remembers some of the remarks in the debate.  Andre Reichel presented a graph, – although abstract and static -, indicating how three inter-reliant levels such as Landscape, Regime, and Niche could induce an efficient transformation and what should be done on this levels to enhance and accelerate sustainability. He recommended a new strategic model based on the diversity of economic activities:  Dominance, Sufficiency, Subsistence, and Niche. He alleged that the Dominance-Strategy, although dangerousness -, should be considered only by large international companies like (VW, Toyota). The Sufficiency-Strategy proposes that the manufacturing of products shall be reduced (car sharing and so on). The Subsistence-Strategy is an economic model based on the collaboration with the consumer, such as supporting the domestic production for and with the customer and extending the lifecycle. The Niche-Strategy needs to consider qualitative technologies, geographic scope and the assurance of product promises. Based on the multi-level perspective,  Reichel mentioned as an example (based on the Zukunftsreport of Mathias Horx) at the level Landscape: Low Growth Energy Carbon; at the level Regime: Collaborative NetworkEconomy and at the level of Niche: Entrepreneurial Activities.The question arose how the politic will accept this model and how it will react. Verena Madner and Andre Reichel discussed Governance spectrum of the State and over the Governance Gap, i.e. that States may take less and less influence on the economy.  Alexandra Strickner replied that the results of Paris (climate change) and the above-mentioned model does not fit into the existing neo-liberal system (enterprises want to make profit, distribution of the wellness) as well as to the trade policy of TIIP. Thus, the system does not wish to support the required transformation. From the audience came the objection that companies must make profits to secure jobs and to create new ones and to pay taxes to remain our welfare state. Lorenz Stör disputed that is too naive to believe that large multinational corporation will support the transformation of a new economic order: they do not want change,  – they are too powerful (his power-theory). Instead, the change should focus on a new society and social distribution of wealth. Reichel replied that politics do react when it is almost too late: the situation in Paris or the refugee crises, and so on. He also repeated that Niche-Enterprises will play in the post-growth-phase an important role. De-growth research is critical for both for SMEs as well as for large multinational companies. Reichel asked to interpret the term transformation in different ways, like some form of planned Laizes Fair Change and mentioned the Porter model (shared value approach). Fred Luks pointed out that enterprises through the approach of Corporate Citizenship respectively CSR behave like political actors. Andre Reichel criticized that the great multilateral institutions such as the IMF were pretty clueless about the current situation and the requirement of the transformation. The incentives should, therefore, come from the consumers too, and Lorenz Stör added that the Civil Society should do their part. He pointed out that the power of large multinational corporations could have an adverse impact on the required transformation; and therefore, its better to start from the lower level (family) as a  counter-power. Verena Madner added that the research is an important issue to Governance. Alexandra Strickner asks that society and the business system  must be redesigned to achieve a “good life for all.” Andre Reichl concludes that transformation without economic growth will not work because people in developing countries ask for a higher standard of living too.