The EU's Fifth Project: Transitional Governance in the Service of Sustainable Societies

[19 November 2013] BRUSSELS – "We need alternatives to GDP growth as the goal of public policy, and we need alternatives to work and wealth accumulation as the driving forces in our lives. A genuine transition in the way we live is the only true path to sustainability. But it must be accompanied by a transition in the way we govern. This is Europe’s fifth project.”

This was the message from Olivier De Schutter as he announced the Francqui International Conference on Europe’s Fifth Project (EU5P) in Brussels on May 8-9 2014. The conference will bring together experts, policymakers and civil society representatives to discuss how the EU could develop transitional governance tools in the service of moving towards sustainable societies.

He stated: “We have entered a race against time to mitigate the ecological damage our pattern of growth has caused and to build more inclusive societies in a globalized economy. The ecological transition, if it is to succeed, must go beyond the design of new and cleaner technologies, and must even go beyond purely environmental measures. It requires us to rethink not only regulatory options but also the role of economic incentives and financial tools.”

De Schutter drew attention to the change already happening at the local level, explaining: “We need tools to harness and promote this social experimentation, and we need a new mode of governance that allows us to adapt to a complex and fast-changing environment, and ceases to prescribe policy from the top down. This requires us to reimagine EU governance in a way that makes diversity across the EU Member States an asset rather than a liability.”

A process will now begin to gather the ideas that can underpin the transition to sustainable societies.

Find out more about EU5P.

Read the op ed in New Europe: Back to growth, or forward to sustainability?

The Francqui International Conference 2014 is organized with the support of the Francqui Prize. The most prestigious scientific prize in Belgium, the Francqui Prize is awarded by the Francqui Foundation every three years in the field of the social sciences and the humanities. It was awarded in 2013 to professor Olivier De Schutter for his contribution to the advancement of EU law, the theory of governance, and human rights law.