European Sustainable Development Report 2021: Transforming the EU to achieve the SDGs

The third edition of the flagship Europe Sustainable Development Report tracks the performance of the EU, its Member States, and other European countries on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Europe Sustainable Development Report shows how the SDGs can be used as a roadmap for a sustainable and inclusive recovery inside the EU and highlights how the European Green Deal and the SDG diplomacy can help to achieve sustainable development worldwide and advance the EU's geopolitical interests.

The report is part of the broader Sustainable Development Report (SDR) series which tracks the performance of countries and municipalities around the world on the SDGs since 2015. It builds on a peer-reviewed and statistically audited methodology and includes country profiles for the EU, its member states and partner countries.

The ESDR 2021 shows that the EU needs to accelerate progress on many goals but faces its greatest SDG challenges in the areas of agriculture, climate and biodiversity (SDG2, 12-15) and in strengthening the convergence of living standards across its countries and regions. Europe’s recovery and pursuit of climate and biodiversity targets must therefore be accompanied by ambitious social policies to “Leave No One Behind” and solidarity.

Furthermore, Europe is the SDG leader globally, but generates negative international spill overs as it outsources economic, social and environmental impacts abroad notably through trade. The ESDR 2021 shows no sign of decoupling between economic growth and environmental spill overs embodied into EU consumption as CO2 emissions generated abroad to satisfy EU’s consumption of goods and services grow faster than GDP. The ESRD demonstrates clearly that Europe’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic must address these challenges to advance long-term development objectives.

The Multiannual Financial Framework, NextGenEU and the Recovery and Resilience Facility provide financial firepower to work toward that objective and accelerate the transformation of the EU over the period 2021–2027.

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