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NETwork for GREEN growth Indicators

Final Report Summary - NETGREEN (NETwork for GREEN growth Indicators)

Executive Summary:
The discussion on how to put our economy on a more sustainable path has intensified in recent years. More and more policy makers at all levels of policy making are looking for indicators and tools that can help them inform decisions to facilitate this transition. At the same time, many researchers have already developed indicators that measure pathways to a greener economy or a more sustainable development, but at the moment these indicators are not often enough used.
NETGREEN develops a systematic and consistent overview on the existing efforts to measure sustainable development and the transformation to green economy. By conducting a stock taking exercise on existing initiatives and indicators and assessing those indicators, NETGREEN will provide guidance to policy makers and researchers who want to use and further develop indicators and tools in the field.
Additionally NETGREEN aims to serve as a focal point of the discussions on the measurement of the green economy, and further develop this discussion with a communication tool (www.measuring-progress.eu) that supports the understanding of the landscape of indicators, their specific uses and interpretations. Through the use of the communication tool and networking events, NETGREEN will foster the debate on the right use of indicators in the discussions about green growth, the green economy and Beyond GDP.

Project Context and Objectives:
The discussion on how to put our economy on a more sustainable path has intensified in recent years. More and more policy makers at all levels of policy making are looking for indicators and tools that can help them inform decisions to facilitate this transition. At the same time, many researchers have already developed indicators that measure pathways to a greener economy or a more sustainable development, but at the moment these indicators are not often enough used.
NETGREEN has developed www.measuring.progres.eu a systematic and consistent overview on the existing efforts to measure sustainable development and the transformation to a green economy. The NETGREEN tool helps to translate a policy question, policy objective or a policy issue into a pre-selection of indicators that can be used to explore and analyse the challenges that arise from the policy process. For each identified indicator, the tool provides the necessary information to select the indicators most suited for the analysis needed. www.measuring-progress.eu is thereby an impartial information tool which helps users to assess policy challenges of the green economy but does not force judgments on the user.
The information provided about the indicators supports the user in identifying the suitable indicators and in understanding the results of indicators proposed. To achieve that, the user sees technical information and links to the real data. Most importantly, the database supports policy-makers in interpreting results, pointing out pitfalls and providing further indicator suggestions, which help to understand alternative viewpoints and considerations.
During the project the NETGREEN team managed to have an intensive interaction with potential users with its user group and in workshops and seminars both in the development phase and the testing phase of the website.

Project Results:
1. Indicator tool www.measuring-progress.eu
An online tool and database is developed, which enables policy-makers, campaigners and strategists to identify and understand the best indicators to measure progress towards the green economy. The tool is available at www.measuring-progress.eu and has been online since March 2015. The indicator selection provided helps users to understand environmental, economic and social issues and processes that pose challenges to the design of policies in the context of the green economy. The online tool offers the indicators that best meet the needs of generalists without deep expertise in the field, as well as of specialist policy-makers who want to understand the broader issues around the green economy.
The NETGREEN tool helps to translate a policy question, policy objective or a policy issue into a pre-selection of indicators that can be used to explore and analyse the challenges that arise from the policy process. For each identified indicator, the tool provides the necessary information to select the indicators most suited for the analysis needed. The website allows three different ways of searching indicators including a free text search to allow users with different backgrounds to use the website in a way useful to them. The website was developed in close interaction with potential users.
The information provided about the indicators supports the user in identifying the suitable indicators and in understanding the results of indicators proposed. To achieve that, the user sees technical information and links to the real data. Most importantly, the database supports policy-makers in interpreting results, pointing out pitfalls and providing further indicator suggestions, which help to understand alternative viewpoints and considerations. With this, the tool will contribute to broaden the viewpoint of users that have the ambition to design policies on a general set of objectives related to the green economy.
Measuring-progress.eu is an interactive online tool providing green economy indicators for policy-makers and the people trying to influence them. It is based on a framework of green economy policy outcomes which cover the five pillars of the green economy: environmental sustainability, social justice, quality of life, economic sustainability and resilience, and effective governance.
The www.measuring-progress.eu tool provides three advantages:
• First, it facilitates the assessment monitoring and development green economy policies by making indicators easier to find and to interpret.
• Also, it could support international negotiations, including the SDG process or the circular economy agenda with many goals, targets and strategies.
• Finally, the tool would support indicator selection that is not biased by political priorities, and applicable across different contexts. The tool could therefore become a new focal point for a measuring progress community enabling a better understanding of the work going on in the community.

2. Examples of the use of www.measuring-progress.eu - Policy Briefs

In work Package 4 of NETGREEN www.measuring-progress.eu was tested on four examples, written down in 4 policy briefs and presented at 4 policy workshops. The policy breifs covered the topics resource efficiency, Eco innovation, headline indicators of progress and UN sustainable development goals. The policy briefs summarize the current policy discussion and test the indicator suggestions generated by www.measuring-progress.eu and assessed the validity and usefulness of the suggestions.


Potential Impact:

Dissemination activities
The dissemination work during the first project year focused on attracting industry by policy-makers and other stakeholders on NETGREEN’s work, while during the second year were devoted to promoting NETGREEN’s main outputs.
Several dissemination and outreach activities took place during the first project year with the dual objective of creating interest in the objectives of NETGREEN by policy-makers, research, NGOs and the business community and building a momentum for the NETGREEN key products. A project flyer was prepared and distributed by the project partners during the very early stages of the project while a state-of-the art project website was designed to provide all the necessary information about the project in a transparent way. Additionally, a range of online tools i.e. a NETGREEN online blog, a LinkedIn group page and a twitter page were prepared.
Additionally, during the first project year and through a number of engagement activities such as research interviews and workshops the project team managed to build a group of around 90 experts with an expertise in green economy indicators. This group was constantly engaged during the course of the project with the objective of creating a group of stakeholders that would ensure the continuity of the project’s main output, i.e. the web tool of green economy indicators.
As discussed, during the second project year the majority of the dissemination work was dedicated to the dissemination of the www.measuring-progress.eu web tool, which is the project’s main output. The main target audience of the web tool are policy and decision makers at all levels, i.e. EU, national, regional and local. However, the tool would also be useful for other stakeholder categories such as actors that try to influence policy-makers, researchers, think tanks and businesses. To this end, the NETGREEN team used a wide range of dissemination tools (see Table A2 below) in order to reach the widest audience possible and attract stakeholder interest. In particular, the tool was promoted, among others, through an interview in the EU Commission’s Eco-innovation Website, a publication in the European Parliament Magazine, two Webinars were also organised by the NETGREEN team on 26 March 2015 and 3 June 2015. The latter was included in the official programme of the EU Sustainable Development Week 2015 (http://www.esdw.eu/) and of the EU Green Week 2015 (http://www.greenweek2015.eu/).
During the second project year, five events were organised by the NETGREEN partners in order to promote the project and its key out comes. In March 2011, two workshops were organised in Brussels, with around 100 participants each, on ‘’Maximizing resource efficiency throughout the EU economy’’ and ‘’Eco-innovation and opportunities for the EU economy’’. These two events provided an opportunity to present publicly the first pilot version of the web tool. Then in May 2015, a workshop was organised in Berlin on ‘’How to measure the UN sustainable development objectives in Central Europe?’’, while in June another workshop was organised in London on ‘’Developing headline indicators of progress - the UK experience’’. Both these two events provided an additional opportunity to publicly present the www.measuring-progress.eu web tool. Additionally, a full-day Final Conference was organised in Brussels on the 15th of October in order to provide a high visibility to the www.measuring-progress.eu web tool. The event featured high-profile speakers such as a Member of the European Parliament, experts from the European Commission’s DG Research & Innovation and Development & Cooperation, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment in the Netherlands, among others. More than 100 participants from all key stakeholder categories (policy, business, and research) participated in the event.

Socio-economic impact
Regarding the socio-economic impact of the project, in line with the Description of Work, the project has developed a web tool aiming to facilitate and increase the use of green economy indicators by key actors such as policy-makers, actors involved in the policy-making process and businesses. Following an 18-month preparation period, the NETGREEN team launched the web tool and managed to attract significant interest in this product that aims to advance progress towards the green economy, as indicated by the 50 new visitors of the web tool on a daily basis between June and October 2015. Although it is difficult to assess how many of these users have actually used the indicators featured on the web tool for their policy-relevant activities, the high number of visitors per day indicates that the project, as a minimum, has contributed to an increased interest in green economy indicators. It has also contributed to an increased recognition of a major challenge in the green economy field, i.e. the unused and misuse of green economy indicators.
An additional impact of NETGREEN lies in its capacity to motivate users to integrate alternative green economy considerations (economic, social or environmental) in their analysis. Specifically, the NETGREEN research team developed a mind map of the main themes associated with the green economy using input from an in-depth literature review and interviews with experts in the field. The mind map was then used to establish links between the indicators featured in the measuring-progress.eu web tool, the policy key words and the green economy topics included in the web tool. Based on this mind map the tool provides an algorithm that generates a selection of suggestions for additional indicators, depending on the choices (i.e. indicators, key words and topics) of the user. On the basis of this mind map, the web tool provides further indicator suggestions that may broaden users’ viewpoints and help them integrate alternative green economy considerations into their analysis.
Finally, through a series of workshops and conferences that took place during the two-year course of the project, NETGREEN managed to provide a valuable contribution to the green economy debate, focusing on ‘’hot’’ topics for the policy agenda such as the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals. These events also made a contribution to the debate about the use green economy indicators in policy making.

List of Websites:
www.netgreen-project.eu
www.measuring-progress.eu