The European Union’s road to sustainability – how each EU state is doing

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Victoria Masterson, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • The SDGCountry Scores tool from Eurostat shows whether European Union countries are making progress on global sustainable development goals.
  • Countries are measured compared with the EU average and whether they have made progress over the last five years.
  • COVID-19 has slowed progress towards sustainable development – while also galvanizing commitment to global goals, according to the UN.

With a new focus on building back better, sustainable development has perhaps never been higher on the global agenda. But getting a good sense of a country’s progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can be difficult.

To simplify the process for making sense of huge datasets, the European Union’s statistical office, Eurostat, has created an interactive tool to visualise the progress of the EU’s 27 member states.

The tool sets the EU bloc’s average progress as the benchmark, then measures each member state’s progress over the last five years against that point. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1407628250671509504&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.weforum.org%2Fagenda%2F2021%2F09%2Feurope-sdg-country-scores-tracker%2F&sessionId=cd3974d398644bb7cb2557e2e90dc654bc5a5d72&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1890d59c%3A1627936082797&width=550px

In Eurostat’s SDG Country Scores tool, green, red and yellow zones show whether countries are performing above or below the EU average and moving towards or away from specific goals.

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The Eurostat SDG Country Scores tool
The Eurostat SDG Country Scores tool allows you to track progress towards the UN Global Goals across the 27 members of the European Union. Image: EuroStat

A global SDG Tracker is also available online, using official statistics from the UN and other international organizations.

“Sound metrics and data are critical for turning the SDGs into practical tools for problem solving,” says the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which promotes practical solutions for sustainable development.

Country data challenges

Monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is a huge statistical task for nations, and many countries don’t report progress on all the goals, according to the World Bank’s Statistical Performance Indicators.

“On average, countries had reported one or more data points on only 55% of the SDG indicators for the years 2015-2019,” the World Bank said.

a chart showing countries reporting progress on the global goals
Many countries don’t report progress on all the Global Goals. Image: World Bank

COVID-19 has also slowed progress towards sustainable development – while galvanizing commitment to the global goals, according to the UN.

In its Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, the UN says that to get the global goals back on track, governments, cities, business and industries must use the recovery to adopt development routes that are low-carbon, resilient and inclusive.

What is the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact summit?

It’s an annual meeting featuring top examples of public-private cooperation and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies being used to develop the sustainable development agenda.

It runs alongside the United Nations General Assembly, which this year features a one-day climate summit. This is timely given rising public fears – and citizen action – over weather conditions, pollution, ocean health and dwindling wildlife. It also reflects the understanding of the growing business case for action.

The UN’s Strategic Development Goals and the Paris Agreement provide the architecture for resolving many of these challenges. But to achieve this, we need to change the patterns of production, operation and consumption.

The World Economic Forum’s work is key, with the summit offering the opportunity to debate, discuss and engage on these issues at a global policy level.

These will “reduce carbon emissions, conserve natural resources, create better jobs, advance gender equality and tackle growing inequities.”

Accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is the central aim of the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2021.

Hosted virtually alongside the United Nations General Assembly, the event between 20-23 September will feature working sessions, roundtables, dialogues and briefings on revitalizing economies, advancing an inclusive recovery, scaling up climate action and shaping future food systems.

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