8 June 2022
Eurostat Documents “Negative Developments” in EU on SDG 15
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Eurostat’s assessment indicates significant progress on five SDGs: peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16); no poverty (SDG 1); industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9); decent work and economic growth (SDG 8); and affordable and clean energy (SDG 7).

However, the report does not fully reflect the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report highlights “a few clearly negative developments,” resulting in a “slightly negative goal-level assessment” on SDG 15 (life on land).

Eurostat has published a monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in the EU. The report finds that over the last five years, the EU has made progress towards most SDGs, and while progress on some Goals was faster than on others, “movement away from the sustainable development objectives occurred only in few specific areas,” including biodiversity and ecosystem conservation.

Eurostat’s assessment indicates significant progress on five SDGs. The greatest progress, it notes, was achieved on SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). The share of the EU population reporting crime and violence in their communities decreased from 13.2% in 2015 to 10.9% in 2020. Also, more people consider the justice system in their country to be sufficiently independent, representing an increase from 50% in 2016 to 54% in 2021.

Managing the impact of the economic shock caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must not lead us to lose sight of our goal of transforming the EU’s economic model. 

— Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for Economy

While the report documents significant progress towards reducing poverty and social exclusion (SDG 1), it acknowledges that the available data “do not yet fully reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” It also finds significant progress on: innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9); economy and the labor market (SDG 8), with the employment rate going up to 73.1% in 2021, which exceeds pre-pandemic levels; and clean and affordable energy (SDG 7), although a UN press release notes that the report does not reflect the recent energy price increases and other impacts of the war in Ukraine.

Eurostat highlights “a few clearly negative developments,” resulting in a “slightly negative goal-level assessment” on SDG 15 (life on land). According to the report, over the last five years, ecosystems and biodiversity remained under pressure from human activities. While there were slight increases in the EU’s forest area and terrestrial protected areas, “pressures on biodiversity from land take, including soil sealing by impervious materials,” continued to grow, resulting in habitat loss. Like previous assessments, the report confirms that biodiversity and ecosystem conservation status in the EU is unfavorable, and the EU’s consumption patterns have considerable negative impacts on biodiversity.

The report notes moderate progress in the areas of health and well-being (SDG 3), life below water (SDG 14), gender equality (SDG 5), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), quality education (SDG 4), climate action (SDG 13), and zero hunger (SDG 2). It provides a “neutral” assessment of the EU’s progress on SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) and SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), given an “almost equal number of sustainable and unsustainable developments.”

Issued on 23 May 2022, the report is the sixth in a series of annual monitoring assessments launched by the EU’s statistics office in 2017. Based on an indicator set developed to monitor progress towards the SDGs in an EU context, it aims to provide an objective assessment of whether the EU has advanced towards the Goals over the past five- and 15-year periods. [Publication: Sustainable development in the European Union: 2022 Monitoring Report on Progress Towards the SDGs in an EU context] [Publication Landing Page] [European Commission Press Release] [UN in Western Europe Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on the 2020 Report]

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