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IEEP reviews EU’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ahead of HLPF 2019

Authors: Misty Monteville, Marianne Kettunen

An IEEP briefing provides a review of the European Union’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in advance of the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) to be held at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York on 9 – 18 July 2019 and followed by the SDG Summit in September 2019.

The briefing provides an overview of key issues at stake in the UN meetings and on the progress made on implementation of the SDGs by the EU. It focuses on particular on those of the SDGs to be reviewed in depth at the July Forum that are of particular immediate significance to the environment (SDGs 13 and 16).

The briefing presents the different components of the EU’s reporting to the HLPF in July, including the 2019 Eurostat report on sustainable development in the European Union. It also draws on non-EU sources, such as the global Sustainable Development Report 2019.

According to the Eurostat report, the EU has made progress towards most of the goals. However, progress does not mean that the status of the goal is satisfactory. There is still considerable room for improvement, notably on environmental SDGs.

Additionally, the IEEP briefing finds that SDG monitoring in the EU suffers from several shortcomings, highlighted by the visible discrepancies between the EU reporting and other available sources. The picture painted by the Eurostat report appears less positive when examined through the lens of other sources.

In particular, the current EU reporting fails to address spillover effects of EU activities outside its borders. Interlinkages between implementing the different SDGs are also not sufficiently addressed. For example, success in delivering SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) underpins the delivery of most other goals.

The EU’s implementation of SDGs, including monitoring the progress, would be considerably strengthened by the adoption of an overarching SDG strategy which would help to set relevant targets and address interlinkages between SDGs.

The September SDG Summit is expected to send a strong signal on the international community’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda. The EU played a key role in the adoption of the Agenda in 2015 and should therefore be expected to come to this Summit with an ambitious plan, in particular it is to continue spearheading global SDG delivery in the future.

Encouragingly, the Finnish Presidency, launched last week, is placing sustainability at the core of its programme.

This briefing complements recent short analyses of the global Sustainable Development Report 2019 and the 2019 Eurostat report.

For IEEP’s work on the EU and global 2030 Agenda, please contact Marianne Kettunen.

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