Those responsible for the design and delivery of local social and health services are aware of current demographic and financial pressures but are also passionate about continuing to deliver services that improve and maintain quality of life.

Social services have a social mission but they also have economic costs and benefits and an impact on the environment. How do we as managers, professionals, policy-makers, researchers and service users shape a future for sustainable social services?

To be sustainable, service and workforce planning will have to be in line with future social needs but also able to adapt to changing demands.

To be sustainable, the very latest technology will have to be deployed to improve citizens’ access to services and provide managers with better data on needs, risks and spending.

The participation of citizens, younger and older in employment is crucial – and the right balance between activation and protection. The sector will have to review how it is promoting well-being at work.

Economic sustainability should mean that organisations manage their resources and increasingly look to share or network resources to improve service efficiency. How much control can users take of budgets?

Environmental sustainability should encourage public services to be aware of the impact of services on the environment. What can be done to measure and respond to this green challenge?

Financing and delivering a better quality of life for all will require us to revisit the very nature of the welfare state in the 21st century. Will we need to reframe the roles and responsibilities of state and citizen and ask what the enduring values which we as a society hold dear are?

And as we look forward, how can we best use the considerable experience, expertise and evidence of developed welfare systems to invest smartly in the future and ensure that all of us, including the most vulnerable, have the best life chances?

Delegates to the Copenhagen conference will also have an opportunity to participate in a very wide range of areas of discussion in the conference workshops and discover what concerns countries from all parts of Europe.

Organisers of the conference

The conference, which is not-for-profit, is organised annually by the European Social Network (ESN), a forum of directors of public social, health, education and employment services in Europe and associate member organisations. The 2012 conference is presented in cooperation with the Danish Presidency of the European Union.

The work of ESN continues after the conference in the Network's seminars and working groups and in its research and communication. If you would like to know more please go to or contact us on +44 1273 739039.