The time has come for the implementation of the SDGs by the contracting parties

Leading up to IEEP's Think 2030 conference, experts express their views on Europe's most pressing sustainability issues in the Think 2030 blog series, Pathways to 2030. 

The ninth edition of Pathways to 2030 features Ms Brenda King, Chief Executive for
African and Caribbean Diversity and member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), who discusses the shortcomings of implementing and assessing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Europe and possible solutions.

The Sustainable Development Goals were established by the United Nations in 2015. The time has come for the implementation of the SDGs by the contracting parties, which includes the EU and its Member States.

In EESC's recent opinion on Indicators better suited to evaluate the SDGs – the civil society contribution, Ms Brenda King underlines the need for the European Commission to establish an overarching European Sustainable Development Strategy with concrete objectives, targets and actions to achieve the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the EU. Additionally, the Strategy should highlight that a strong engagement of civil society is fundamental to achieve the SDGs.

The current EU governance system should be adapted to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The SDGs should be part of all EU policies and all EU institutions should ensure coordinated work on progressing towards the SDGs. Specifically, progress monitoring should be part of the European Semester.

The existing EU monitoring system of SDG implementation presents several deficiencies as it has become clear in Eurostat's annual SDG monitoring reports of 2017 and 2018. It is crucial to create a comprehensive system of indicators, which covers the European and national levels in order to show a clear overview of SDG implementation in the EU. Quantitative indicators should be accompanied by qualitative ones, and should be developed in collaboration with civil society.

A major involvement of civil society in both the definition of indicators and assessment of progress towards the goals is needed. Despite the diversity of civil society organisations working on the SDGs, civil society is currently insufficiently represented in the monitoring process. The annual revision of the Eurostat SDG Report must be an opportunity for broader dialogue with civil society on which indicators should be included and what the target for each of these should be.

Ms Brenda King is a speaker at Think 2030, a sustainability think tank conference taking place in Brussels on the 17th and 18th of October 2018.