Policy context

Change language
Page expired Last modified 24 Feb 2017
1 min read
This content has been archived on 24 Feb 2017, reason: Other (No more updates will be done. Content about the environmental scenarios can now be found under the topic "Sustainability transitions")
Concern for future generations is a key prerequisite of sustainable development policies at global, European, national and local levels. Long-term policy objectives are at the heart of many international conventions and protocols that address problems of global environmental change. Long-term policy objectives also underpin key environmental policies of the European Union and its Member States. Scenarios support strategic planning and decision-making, and can help to test the implications and robustness of different policies. Equally important, they allow for profound stakeholder participation, enabling the representation of conflicting opinions and world views.

Global level

Environmental governance benefits from a dense web of international agreements and institutions. The most prominent long-term environmental policy frameworks are the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biodiversity and the Millennium Development Goals. Mid- to long-term policy objectives underpin various international environmental conventions, for example the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).


European level

The European Union's Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) sets out a plan to consistently tackle seven key mid- to long-term challenges of sustainable development, such as climate change, clean energy and sustainable transport and sustainable consumption and production. A number of European directives explicitly follow long-term objectives, especially in the area of climate change and energy policy. Similar developments can be observed in the EU Member States — several have institutionalised foresight programmes within their national administrations.

Long-term planning is less advanced in South Eastern Europe and the countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, where the focus is more on reforming environmental policies, laws and regulations and strengthening compliance. However, initiatives are underway, to help avoid conflicts around scarce natural resources and also to support overall sustainable use and protection of natural resources (see the examples provided in the overview of forward-looking studies).


Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100