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The Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (BMLFUW)

The Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (BMLFUW) combines the competences for important topics on the creation and on the preservation of our quality of life and of shaping a future worth living in for our children. In concrete terms, it is responsible for agriculture, forestry, environment and water management.

The BMLFUW is working on these matters at the national, European and international levels. It stands for precautionary and responsible use of the fundamental resources and supports an environmentally sound development and the protection of living environments in urban and rural areas. Sustainable development serves the needs of the present without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Maintaining a clean environment worth living in constitutes a great challenge while simultaneously offering many opportunities. A sustainable economic system can only be based on an energy system which makes (more) efficient use of energy while generating this energy from renewable sources. Also, the reduction of the man-made greenhouse effect is doubtlessly one of the greatest challenges in environmental protection. Climate protection, the shift to renewable energies, energy autarky – all these are milestones on the way to a sustainable economic system. On this way we foster e.g. the creation of jobs in the environmental sector or the inclusion of environmental parameters into the assessment of social welfare which traditionally is measured by GDP only.

Above all the environment has to be regarded as the basis of society and therefore also for the economic system. Thus, ecological and social considerations have to be included into economic calculations. It is crucial that economic growth as such is not regarded as an aim in itself. It is a means to enable people to live a good life. That is the target of the BMLFUW-Initiative "Growth in Transition".

Growth in Transition - Wachstum im Wandel

In 2008 the BMLFUW started a process dealing with the question which kind of growth is compatible with sustainable development. The initiative "Growth in Transition" ("Wachstum im Wandel") constantly works to involve as many institutions and persons as possible in a dialogue on how to frame a process of transition towards sustainability.

At the moment – in the light of the current financial and economic crisis and intensive efforts for achieving economic growth – the question is emerging what kind of growth we want for the future and which goals we are trying to reach. The initiative "Growth in Transition" intends to trigger a dialogue among institutions and people about how this transformation process can be shaped towards sustainability. It also aims at contributing to current EU and international processes and at informing the Austrian public about them (e.g. the EU initiative "Beyond GDP").

The process is very much alive in Austria and the initiative wants to increase international networking with institutions or initiatives dealing with the same issues. "Growth in Transition" wants to inject itself more intensely into the European discourse. On the EU- level there are initiatives like "Beyond GDP" with strong content- related overlap concerning the topics at hand. EU-projects like RESPONDER or POLFREE could offer a platform to tie some of the topics worked on internationally and at the same time bring them into the European discourse.