European Union presents its progress towards sustainable development

SDGs UN

(UN, 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development in New York, the EU reaffirmed its strong commitment to deliver on the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a shared global roadmap for a peaceful and prosperous world, with human well-being on a healthy planet at its core. A dedicated event hosted by the European Union and the Finnish Presidency assessed the progress made in implementing the Agenda 2030’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within Europe and through the EU’s international cooperation.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The UN 2030 Agenda is the comprehensive plan that we need for increasing human well-being and building truly green and inclusive economies and societies. In Europe, we are strengthening our collective effort to translate the Sustainable Development Goals into concrete actions that can be measured and monitored. In the next five years I expect the European Commission to fully integrate the SDGs into our economic governance model. There is no time to lose as it is the future of our children and grandchildren that is at stake. The EU must now step up its game.”

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica added: “The European Union and its Member States were at the forefront of adopting the 2030 Agenda, and we are at the forefront of making it a reality. Together, we can do even more and even better. Working in partnership with developing countries, within the strong multilateral system, we can end poverty, accelerate progress towards sustainable development and succeed in our quest to leave no one behind.”

Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime affairs and Fisheries said: “A shared, prosperous and sustainable future for all can only be achieved by knitting together the social, economic and environmental dimensions in our policies and future development. The transition to ecologically sustainable economic growth and competitiveness can only be successful if it promotes social rights and well-being for all.

The European Union has already embarked on a transition towards a low-carbon economy that is climate neutral, resource-efficient and circular – while ensuring social equality and inclusiveness. The EU has also put the SDGs at the heart of its external action and has aligned all development activities with UN 2030 Agenda through its new European Consensus on Development.

However, many sustainability challenges have become increasingly pressing, and new ones have emerged, putting human well-being, economic prosperity, our society and our environment at risk. To accelerate the achievement of the ambitious and interlinked SDGs, the EU highlights its commitment to systematically review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and follow-up respectively.

Background

On 25 September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

On 30 January 2019, the European Commission presented the Reflection Paper “Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030” which takes stock of the progress made in Europe and identifies the necessary priorities when moving forward: developing a fully circular economy, creating a sustainable food system, greening energy, mobility and the built environment, and gearing all our horizontal policy tools, from education and digitisation to finance and taxation, towards the sustainability transition. The Reflection Paper highlights that there is no sustainability without social sustainability, which is why it is of fundamental importance to ensure that the sustainability transition is socially fair, for the benefit of all and leaving no one behind.

The first Joint Synthesis Report on the implementation of the European Consensus on Development, presented officially at today’s event, shows how the EU and its Member States have advanced sustainable development through their development cooperation with partner countries, whilst strengthening their partnerships with the United Nations and other multilateral organisations, civil society and the private sector. For instance, it reports significant progress in helping reducing extreme poverty through more joint-up EU action, in promoting gender equality, and in improving health services for millions of people across the world. It also highlights that the EU and its Member States contributed over €20 billion in 2017 alone to support developing countries in their efforts to tackle and adapt to climate change. EU support to sustainable energy is on course to achieving energy access for about 40 million people, with annual CO2 emissions savings of around 15 million tons.

The ‘Eurostat Monitoring Report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context’ is a key tool for evaluating how well the EU and its Member States are advancing on the SDGs, helping also to highlight the cross- cutting and interconnected nature of the SDGs.

The 2019 EU report on Policy Coherence for Development showcases EU’s progress on formulating policies which take into account from the outset the impacts on developing countries, a central aspect to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

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