The Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management puts itself out for sustainability, for the creation, securing and maintenance of a high quality of life, of the bases of life, of areas of living and food in Austria as well as on an European and international level.
The central field of action for the required social and political change towards sustainability is the economy. The concept of sustainable development can be implemented only provided that the economy commits itself to the objectives that help people to have a good life and at the same time protect the environment. The objectives of such an economy should be to reduce poverty and to create and maintain humane and environmentally compatible jobs while at the same handling resources and energy efficiently and economically.
Opting out of the fossil energy regime and satisfying our energy requirements from renewable energy sources are the declared objectives of international and national efforts. In its Europe 2020 Strategy, also the European Union blazes a trail for a green economy. The promotion of a resource-saving, more environmentally friendly and competitive economic system is to lead to sustainable growth. By extending the green sector new jobs - green jobs - are to be created and existing productions are to be made more environmentally compatible.
At the highest international level, the United Nations, the fostering of a green economy has meanwhile top priority. More than twenty years after the Conference of Rio de Janeiro, the most important conference for the sustainability movement, representatives of all nations meet again at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in 2015 to discuss an international, binding climate agreement.
The Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management takes considerable efforts to achieve energy self-sufficiency. Becoming independent of fossil fuels while creating environmentally sound jobs ("green jobs") are the declared goals of the Federal Government. Moreover, greater use of renewable resources, an energy- and resource-sparing way of life and improved energy and resource efficiency are to enable us to achieve a wealth distribution with a smaller environmental impact and less use of limited resources. Austria's environmental accounts illustrate that the increase in material wealth in Austria has developed at the cost of an intensified use of natural resources. Future economic regimes must restrict this development and must make more efficient use of raw materials.
Greater wealth for everyone is to be achieved, but at the same time we should make prudent use of the environment. It should be a form of wealth which is not only measured in terms of the gross domestic product, but which also takes account of the quality of life and the environment. A large number of international processes dealing intensively with the issue of alternative wealth assessment are underway. The European Union, OECD as well as several national states like Germany, France or Great Britain are elaborating alternative indicators.
Growth in Transition
What should grow? The Europe 2020 Strategy defines the necessary growth as smart, sustainable and inclusive. In 2008, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management launched the initiative "Growth in Transition" which deals with the issue of future growth on a multi-disciplinary level. A multi-disciplinary stakeholder dialogue leads to a comprehensive, long-term perspective dealing with questions on economic growth and a paradigm shift in our economy.