Social Sustainability

Social Sustainable Development

GPI

In 21st century, the concept of sustainability has entered the public sphere. While in the 1980s and 1990s it was restricted to the scientific and policy-making debates, nowadays it is spread all around us. The OECD report (2008) defines sustainable development as:
 Spreading the benefits of economic growth to all citizens
Turning brown-fields into ecologically sound urban housing projects
 Increasing educational opportunities for both boys and girls
 Innovating industrial processes to be more energy-efficient and less polluting
 Including citizens and stakeholders in policy-making processes
 
The EU has demonstrated its commitment to sustainable development and defined sustainable dimensions to many policy fields. In this respect, the EU social sustainability focuses on: 
1) The Commission’s Renewed Social Agenda – it presents an integrated and holistic approach to different policy initiatives. It highlights the importance of societies.
 
2) Corporate Social Responsibility – it incentivises European enterprises to enhance Europe’s capacity for sustainable development. This is intensified via different debates and dialogues of stakeholders.
 
Social policy progress has been made in the following fields: 
1) Social inclusion, demography and migration – a challenge still remains to make the most of Europe’s demographic potential such as raising employment rates, productivity and successful integration of migrants. The Commission made recommendations on the inclusion of people excluded from the labour market in October 2008. The EU Structural Funds support member-states in their efforts to tackle poverty and social inclusion (some €10 billion has been allocated).
 
The Commission produced “Ageing Report” in 2009 that looked at the economic and budgetary impact of an ageing population over the long-term until 2060. As part of the Action Plan on Ageing Well in the Information Society, an Action Programme for Research in Ambient Assisted Living has been adopted (some €150 million has been allocated).   
 
On migration, the Commission works to improve the management of migrant flows, to coordinate national policies and combat illegal migration.
 
2) Public health – the EU has adopted its Health Strategy in 2007 as the aim is to achieve progress and sustainability in the lives of EU citizens. Work is being done on major and chronic diseases such as cancer and rare diseases. Several policy initiatives focused on mental health, alcohol, obesity and tobacco as well as combating HIV/AIDS. The European Community Health indicators provide information on the health status within the EU. The Commission also contributes to better health through EU-funded research and advanced e-health services.
 
3) Global poverty and sustainable development challenges – the EU cooperates with third countries and regions, both bilaterally and in the context of multilateral processes, such as the UN Commission on Sustainable development, UNEP and other relevant UN bodies, the OECD and G8.
 
Cooperation with European neighbourhood policy partners promotes sustainable development objectives. Regional dialogue has been reinforced via the Union for the Mediterranean, the Black Sea Synergy and the Eastern Partnership.
 
The EU Sustainable Development Strategy is to create a future of prosperity, equity and well-being.