The report warns that even countries topping the SDSN’s SDG Index for Europe – Finland, Sweden, and Denmark – face significant challenges in achieving several SDGs, with progress stalling on many of the social and health indicators, including poverty, life expectancy, and unemployment.
At the same time, it recognizes that the negative impacts of multiple crises have been “somewhat contained” compared to the rest of the world where financing constraints have been badly aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) released the 2022 edition of its Europe Sustainable Development Report. Published amidst multiple crises and seven years into the SDGs, the report shows that the EU’s progress on the Goals has stalled. Among the areas facing the biggest challenges, it identifies responsible consumption and production, climate, and biodiversity, as well as promoting convergence in SDG progress across EU member States.
The report warns that even countries topping the SDSN’s SDG Index for Europe – Finland, Sweden, and Denmark – face significant challenges in achieving several SDGs, with progress stalling on many of the social and health indicators, including poverty, life expectancy, and unemployment. Emphasizing the need to “accelerate the implementation of the European Green Deal through a massive scale-up of renewable energy and integrated and digital power grids,” the report recognizes that the negative impacts of multiple crises have been “somewhat contained” compared to the rest of the world where financing constraints have been badly aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
In addition, the EU’s consumption has been driving negative spillovers abroad, and while the EU has adopted or is in the process of adopting instruments to curb negative international spillovers, the report shows that it is associated with 1.2 million people in forced labor, and more than 4,000 fatal accidents at work annually. Moreover, 40% of greenhouse gases (GHGs) “to satisfy consumption of goods and services in the EU are emitted abroad.”
The report highlights that at a time of “increased geopolitical rivalries and fragmented multilateralism, the SDGs remain the only comprehensive and universal vision for socioeconomic prosperity and environmental sustainability adopted by all UN member states.” As per an SDSN press release, in a multipolar world, the EU should strengthen cooperation with large emerging economies, “including with Brazil, China, India and Africa,” and argues it is not the time to scale back on Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Noting that the SDGs remain the future that Europe – and the world – want, the report offers five practical recommendations for strengthening the EU’s SDG leadership:
- The EU’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR), to be presented at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July 2023, should cover three elements: internal priorities; international spillovers; and international partnerships and diplomacy for the SDGs.
- The three pillars of EU governance – the European Council, European Parliament, and European Commission should publish a joint political statement reaffirming their strong commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the context of multiple crises, and to a renewed momentum towards achieving the SDGs in a multipolar world.
- The European Commission should issue a communication clarifying how the EU aims to achieve the SDGs in Europe including targets, timelines, and roadmaps.
- The EU should implement and bolster the commitments made at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, and at the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 27), in support of the call made by the UN Secretary-General for an “SDG Stimulus.”
- The EU should set up a new mechanism or renew the mandate of the EU’s SDG Multi-Stakeholder Platform for structured engagement with civil society, youth organizations, the business community, trade unions, and scientists on SDG policies and monitoring.
The SDSN’s Europe Sustainable Development Report is in its fourth edition and forms part of the larger Sustainable Development Report (SDR) series. This year’s report includes ten contributions from experts and practitioners from the SDSN, the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), among others, on how the EU can strengthen its SDG leadership at home and internationally. [Publication: Europe Sustainable Development Report 2022] [Publication Landing Page] [Executive Summary] [SDSN Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on SDSN’s Europe Sustainable Development Report 2021]