Što će nove preporuke štednje energije Europske komisije značiti za hrvatske gradove?

Public Sector Sustainability – The Next Stage

Matija Šoštarić
 January 17, 2023.

Sustainable development today is a groundwork for adapting policies and strategies for continuous economic and social progress, without harming the environment and natural resources essential to humanity in the future. There are a total of 17 Goals, which are integrated and interrelated, and include, among other priorities, areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace, and justice. Action in one area affects outcomes in other; as such, all economic and social development efforts must balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability which places particular emphasis on the role of the public sector.

The public sector should be driven by positive social change, not worried by profit – therefore it should be the generator of the change: initiate it by its principles and code of conduct, pilot projects that could be examples of how it should be done, and support private initiatives that share their common goals. In the end, it is the public sector, i.e., the state that should provide long-term safety and comfort for its constituency and should internalize the principles of SDGs and be responsible for their implementation. The SDGs are to be achieved around the world, and by all UN member states by 2030. Since time quickly passes that creates a sense of urgency and the need to prioritize things.

Here are six priorities that can help accelerate the evolution to a sustainable future:

1. Significantly increase funding for innovation and research

Besides increasing public funding, governments must install a suitable policy framework to stem a broader private involvement in R&D and nurture an environment that decreases risks and unlocks the full potential of private investment. An integrated system approach involving cross-government and cross-sector coordination requires a clear vision, realistic timelines, and a supportive regulatory environment.

2. Deliver detailed and industry-specific roadmaps

Roadmaps produced in collaboration with the industry must provide a long-term action plan with measurable targets. Making the plans public would broadcast how governments are working towards environmental goals and would set out the roles of the main players. These industry-specific roadmaps should set out specific policy measures and initiatives, desired outcomes, timelines, and necessary resources – which would consequently bridge the gap between long-term commitments and short-term action plans.

3. Real-time insights into the implementation of action plans

Governments will need to monitor the implementation of their action plans for environmental impact transparency. Public sector entities must demonstrate that they have delivered their stated commitments, requirements, and priorities and have used public resources effectively. Through advanced data capture and analysis, governments can enhance their impact monitoring and reporting and set the pace for overall sustainability reporting by highlighting the environmental impact of their spending. Integrating the multiple frameworks for sustainability reporting and tailoring them to public sector specifics, would lead to upskilling staff with required data capabilities.

4. Create better conditions for funding and investment

The urgency of the environmental challenge calls for ambitious policies that prioritize climate action, build cross-sector support, create alternative markets, open competition, and encourage entrepreneurship. EU funds are forcing the public sector to think about SDG goals and implement them in all projects. The same goes for the national level since the EU program documents are forcing the national operative programs to be in line with SDGs and show how the programs are contributing. Having said that, the planning is still done to tick all the boxes and in principle, with a clear lack of a long-term plan or the will for sustainability and real change to take effect at the local/regional level.

5. Education and training

A national green skills plan can help map out the profile of skills needed, locations where new “green jobs” should be located, and how to invest in education and retraining with targeted funding. More effort is needed to fully mainstream sustainable development and global citizenship in national education systems. A recent global survey of primary and secondary teachers found that one in four teachers does not feel ready to teach themes related to these topics. Expanding and enhancing R&D on social innovation and the social economy in schools and universities can contribute to the development of both, local knowledge, and the talent pipeline.

6. A broader procurement for public and private channels

Governments can improve their carbon footprint by utilizing greener products and services and defining core green criteria for contracts while encouraging other stakeholders in improving their sustainable consumption and production practices.

To put it all together, a collaboration of every part of society including the general public, public and private sector, financial sector, agencies, and NGOs is the main characteristic of the future. Nowadays, it is clear that all stakeholders must do their part and if only one of them fails, the transition toward sustainability will not happen. Also, as everything always goes from a higher level to a lower one, global and national decision-makers significantly influence the local conditions for pursuing social and economic prosperity, social equality, and environmental protection.  At the same time, this requires top leadership that can provide the necessary funding and technical assistance.

When it comes to Croatia, decision-makers should be thoroughly familiar with the SDGs to properly incorporate them into strategies and action plans. Although the goals are global, their achievement will depend on the ability of local and regional authorities to turn them into reality. The harsh reality is that politicians, under pressure from industry lobbying and driven by public opinion, usually think only of short-term goals and lack of the willingness, time, and funds to implement real change. A possible solution lies in educating the public about environmental challenges which enable people as individuals to take suitable action and positively contribute to the well-being of their communities rewarding those decision-makers that are driven by the principles of SDGs. With less than 8 years left to achieve goals, all players in this “game” must be braver and ready to sacrifice the ease of living today for the benefit of tomorrow.


Source – AmCham Yearbook 2022.:
PDF article