Briefing on UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals

This briefing provides support to the European Parliament delegation to the 10th session of the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (5-15 July 2022).

The briefing gives an overview of the progress made by the European Union on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a particular focus on those to be reviewed in depth at the Forum: SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 14 (Life Below Water), SDG 15 (Life on Land) and SDG 17 (Partnerships). It also provides an overview of tools and pathways available to accelerate the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

In this Global Decade of Action, the High-Level Political Forum 2022 is an auspicious moment post-COVID-19 to focus on our common future and design the kind of world we want our children to inherit. The inextricable links, synergies and interdependence of the SDGs have become clearer over the past few years, presenting an opportunity for a more holistic and systemic approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In the Sustainable Development Solutions Network survey of government efforts for the SDG and the Six Transformations scorecards, the Sustainable Development Report 2022 finds that only 9 EU Member States have a high commitment and 6 countries have a low commitment to the SDGs. Even among the top-rated countries in Europe, the assessment made by the Climate Action Tracker shows that the strategies and actions of those governments are insufficient to achieve the objectives set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Evidence from the latest reports on SDGs progress in the EU and globally show a continuing downward trajectory in environmental and social inequalities brought about by incoherent policies that have largely ignored the consequences of unsustainable economic growth strategies. It is thus imperative that policy and financial frameworks are aligned. If we are to reverse this trajectory and accelerate the implementation of the SDGs, we must fully endorse the premise that full participation of women at every level and access to quality education for all are essential in the efforts to reach all other SDGs targets.

The COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have resulted in incalculable setbacks to the implementation of Agenda 2030, highlighting the imperative for swift and comprehensive alignment of the SDGs and Agenda 2030 with the Recovery and Resilience Plans for “Building-Back-Better” in the wake of the pandemic and the ongoing political upheaval on Europe’s doorstep. The subsequent disruption of the global food and energy systems have also become strikingly apparent as has the interconnected nature of peace, security, food, health, agriculture, environment and energy, demonstrating the need for self-sufficiency and more robust, resilient systems. A similar level of urgency, collaboration, cooperation and strong science-policy interface as well as public awareness are needed now to realise the 2030 Agenda. This level of coordination across sectors and governance structures will require unprecedented cooperation and participatory governance approaches, where the EU can provide a leadership role in the acceleration of Agenda 2030 both regionally and globally.

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