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One Planet Economy Network: Europe

Periodic ReportSummary - OPEN: EU (One Planet Economy Network: Europe)

Project context and objectives:

The impact of the European economy is nearly three times larger than what is required for a sustainable world. If present patterns of production and consumption continue, the human economy will be double the available biocapacity by 2030, and we will need the equivalent of two planet earths to support us. A new future for Europe needs to be achieved by building an economy that respects environmental limits and is socially and financially sustainable, enabling people and nature to thrive. We call this a 'one planet economy'. To achieve this will require mobilisation and behavioural change from every aspect of society.

The OPEN:EU project aims to explore how our consumption (and the production that supports it) might evolve and how Europe could move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and become a One Planet Economy by 2050. There are eight international partners involved in the project, which brings together European and global leaders in the fields of resource accounting, policy and scenario development, stakeholder engagement and project management. The partners are:

- Ecologic Institute
- Global Footprint Network
- Institute for European Environmental Policy
- Sustainable Europe Research Institute
- Norwegian University of Science and Technology
- University of Twente
- University of York and
- World Wildlife Fund United Kingdom (WWF UK).

The partners worked together to develop a comprehensive and foresighted set of European Union (EU) consumption indicators which were combined in an interactive software tool (EUREAPA) for EU policy makers. The project developed a network for decision-makers, civil society organisations and business leaders to share and agree on solutions to the challenges of transforming Europe to a one planet economy. These indicators, software tool and network can be used to facilitate greater transparency in decision making and support high quality, informed policy-making, and help transform the EU to a one planet economy by 2050. The project objectives are:

Building the evidence base
- By 2012 the footprint family of indicators (ecological, carbon and water) is used by policy makers in the EU-27 to develop policy towards a one planet economy.

Building the applications
- By 2012 EU decision-makers are using a scenario modelling and indicator analysis tool to develop evidence-based policy for the transformation to a one planet economy.

Building the capacity and dissemination
- By 2012 a network of decision-makers, CSO's and business leaders share and agree on solutions to the challenges of transforming to a one planet economy.

Project results:

The project has produced an academically robust suite of indicators covering ecological, carbon and water footprints (the footprint family). It has worked to group the 'footprint family' indicators under a common framework so that it becomes possible for policy makers to investigate the indicators in parallel. The indicator data was then combined with national economic accounts and trade statistics using an environmentally extended multi-regional input-output (MRIO) model. By bringing environmental indicators and national accounting data together using an MRIO model it becomes possible to assess the environmental impact of consumption and production at the national level.

Using carbon, ecological and water footprint indicators integrated into the MRIO model and the EUREAPA tool provides the flow of goods and services between 45 countries and regions covering the global economy for 57 product categories including food, housing, transport and other goods and services.

Next, a scenario-modelling and policy assessment tool, EUREAPA was created. This tool functions as a user interface which improves access to the environmental and economic data held within the EE-MRIO model, so that this information becomes more relevant to policy makers and civil society. The EUREAPA tool has been designed to translate complex science into practical information that is accessible online, and presented in a manner which policy-makers and civil society can use to inform policy decisions, tackle complex issues simultaneously and better deal with trade-offs.

Work took place to describe and design a specification of the EUREAPA tool and identifying potential users. The project engaged public, private and civil society organizations to understand what information they needed from the EUREAPA tool and how best this information should be presented.

This specification of the tool was used to develop an online demonstration of the tool which was used to promote interest and to further refine the tool at Green Week in May 2011.

The EUREAPA scenario functions were completed based on feedback from stakeholders. The tool was used to quantify the four one planet economy scenarios developed by the stakeholders. Now, with the EUREAPA tool's application to the scenarios we have the first policy relevant assessment of what will be required - across every sector - to live within the limits of one planet. The project has explored a number of EU policies and strategies using the EUREAPA tool as part of the scenario exercise and report.

Much work was done to approach key stakeholders to test, use and promote the EUREAPA tool.

The project met with DEFRA to present the benefits of the EUREAPA tool to the policy leaders in this UK government department. DEFRA were very interested in the tool. The project also participated in Green Week, May 2011 where we had a stand and ran a workshop to gain further stakeholder feedback on the tool.

Work took place to define the purpose and function of the OPEN Network. We have researched what would be the most suitable structure for the Network and recommendations have been acted upon. The project decided to explore linking the OPEN Network with The Friends of Europe Network and the Green Economy Coalition which will enable one planet economy discussions to continue beyond the lifetime of the project. These opportunities will also help to promote the use of the tool and indicators beyond the lifetime of the project. A continuation strategy has been agreed with the consortium.

The project website was launched in February 2010, since then over 80 organisations have joined the OPEN Network.

Engagement activities took place throughout the project culminating in the launch of the network and an online debate at Green Week, May 2011. The results of these have been translated into an action plan which are being fed into the RIO+20 discussions.

Potential impact:

The OPEN:EU project has developed a multi regional input-output (MRIO) model that unites the footprint family of indicators (carbon, ecological and water footprint) in a common assessment framework for the first time. This model provides a wealth of data on the impact of consumption, production and trade in the EU and allows policy makers to investigate the indicators in parallel.

With this information policy makers can develop an informed response to issues such as limits to natural resource and freshwater consumption, and sustainable use of natural capital across the globe. The ultimate aim is that this evidence will enable decision makers to identify and implement policies which lead to a one planet economy in Europe by 2050.

To make the MRIO model more relevant and accessible to policy makers, CSOs and businesses, the project developed a web-based tool, EUREAPA.

EUREAPA is the most comprehensive online footprint tool developed to date. There are several online footprint tools but none as complex as EUREAPA, which not only provides a range of detailed footprint data, but also covers a number of regions and also allows scenario functionality. EUREAPA's target audience is primarily EU and national policy-makers and their advisors. However it will also be of benefit to policy consultancy firms, academia, civil society organizations and lobbyists and business strategists. EUREAPA is available for free online: http://www.eureapa.net

The tool allows users to view baseline data on the carbon, ecological and water footprint, to see this data presented in charts and tables.

One of the principal aims of the OPEN:EU project was to explore how we could move towards a one planet economy by 2050. We worked with stakeholders to develop future scenarios for consumption in the EU. They explored how consumption patterns and production efficiency might change into the future and where we might intervene with policy to achieve a one planet economy in each of these potential futures. These narratives are available on the OPEN EU website.

These narratives were quantified using the EUREAPA tool. Now, with the EUREAPA tool's application to the scenarios we have the first policy relevant assessment of what will be required - across every sector - to live within the limits of one planet.

For a full evaluation of the stakeholder engagement in the project and with the EUREAPA tool please see the attached longer version of the periodic and final reports.

To continue the use of the EUREAPA tool beyond the lifetime of the project the OPEN: EU partners are currently exploring the establishment of a development group to support and monitor the uptake of the EUREAPA tool and to establish a development fund to ensure the tool is updated and improved.

Having an EE MRIO model and a tool is not enough to achieve a one planet economy in Europe. Dialogue, discussion and action are also required. Therefore the OPEN: EU project launched an online network for policy-makers, civil society groups and non-governmental organisations where they engaged in a dialogue process, to identify how to transform the EU-27 to a one planet economy by 2050. The network hosted virtual and face to face events throughout the project and it is anticipated that the network will link up with existing networks after the project.

Project website: http://www.oneplaneteconomynetwork.org

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