Tasks of the Council
The FORUM sees itself as a ‘critical, but constructive’ guidance of the Austrian Sustainability Strategy. The measures of the FORUM are set on different political levels:
- Providing expertise and knowledge to authorities and social partners;
- Providing expertise and knowledge to media, multipliers and the public;
- Request the political stakeholders to (public) dialogue and to implementation of sustainable development;
- Identification or relevant topics, analyses and preparation for social debate;
- Direct and indirect (by the named means) contribution to the development and implementation of the Austrian Sustainability Strategy.
Substructure and Working Groups
The FORUM is composed of:;
- The Office is set up by the Ministry in charge of coordinating the NStrat and cooperates closely with the NStrat Steering Group. The focus of the Office is on implementation; it takes care of administrative, coordinating and contextual tasks for -- and in agreement with -- the Chairperson in representing the FORUM vis-à-vis third parties (e.g. Committee, Stakeholder Network, EEAC). It is also responsible for coordinating the production of position papers, statements, etc. and for implementing the work programme.
- The Chairperson convenes and presides over meetings of the FORUM. He/she represents the FORUM vis-à-vis third parties. Drawing on his/her own know-how and on the know-how and contacts of FORUM members, the Chairperson makes every effort to buttress the FORUM’s positioning and activities.
- The Steering Group is composed of 8 FORUM members, the Chairperson and the Office staff. Upon the proposal of FORUM members it is elected for a two-year term. Its decisions are taken by qualified majority voting. The focus of the Steering Group is on strategy; it debates the annual work programme, follows its substantive implementation and decides on public statements required at short notice.
- The Experts Pool is formed by all the FORUM members. They actively promote the aims of the FORUM and become selectively or continuously involved in dealing with the FORUM’s subject areas, serving on working groups or interacting with the Office. They are expected – as the occasion arises – to enhance awareness of the FORUM by drawing attention to their FORUM membership and their involvement in its work.
- The Working Groups: The member of the FORUM work mainly in virtual topic based working groups. Often mixed with members of the Austrian Committee for Sustainable Development (this is the second advisory board to the Austrian Sustainability Strategy, consisting of representatives of the Federal Ministries, the states and the social partners). At present there are 4-5 operational Working Groups.
The FORUM meets at least twice a year (May/June and November/December) to discuss pertinent issues and to generate basic approaches for the further development of the NStrat.
At least once a year, the FORUM gets together with the Committee to discuss the political feasibility and the implementation of its own substantive positions. The NStrat Steering Group also takes part in the FORUM meetings. The FORUM drafts statements on the work programmes, progress reports and other NStrat documents. These statements represent input to the Committee meetings and to political discourse. The FORUM is involved in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the NStrat and is invited to serve on joint Committee working groups.
Type of Advice
Each FORUM member can take the initiative; non-members can be involved in the dialogue, if required. The resulting documents as well as the above-mentioned statements are submitted to all the FORUM members for comments on substance. Positions are adopted by majority vote; dissenting votes can be recorded in the annex to any given position paper.
The FORUM's products are geared to providing decision-making aids for policy-makers, to PR work and to knowledge management:
- Response lines: issue-related media work on current topics; clarifications.
- Target groups: media, the public. Coordinated by the Office with the support of specialist FORUM members, in agreement with the Chairperson and the Steering Group;
- Thought lines ('Thoughts on the time we live in’): Short papers broaching new (sustainability) topics and triggering discussions. Target groups: specialist circles, policy makers. Coordinated by the Office staff with pertinent expert know-how and/or (small) working groups in agreement with the Chairperson and the Steering Group.
- Reflection space: Basic position papers or theme-related events. Target groups: specialist circles, media, policy-makers. Coordinated jointly by the Office and the Steering Group and possibly by working groups in agreement with the FORUM.
- Transfer space: Hosting discussions on sustainability issues where people are invited to ‘think outside the box’, to indulge in ‘visioning’ or simply to discuss matters factually. Transfer space may entail top-level talks with a responsible minister or initiatives taken by members of the Committee. Coordinated jointly by the Office and the Steering Group and possibly by working groups in agreement with the FORUM.
Activities in the EEAC Network
The FORUM joined EEAC in 2006. It is an active member of the Working Group Sustainable Development.Last Update: 13 September 2011