The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) have published the first-ever Europe Sustainable Development Report, assessing quantitative progress of the EU and its member states towards the SDGs. The report notes that European countries lead globally on the SDGs, but none are on track to achieve the Goals by 2030.

The 2019 Europe Sustainable Development Report, released on 19 November, finds that:

  • The ten countries closest to achieving the SDGs are in Europe – Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Slovania and Estonia – but no European country is on track to achieve the Goals;
  • The greatest challenges facing the EU and its member states in achieving the Goals relate to climate, biodiversity, the circular economy and on strengthening the convergence in living standards across countries and regions; and
  • European countries generate large, negative spillovers that impede other countries’ ability to achieve the SDGs, such as greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), biodiversity loss embodied in trade, banking secrecy and weapons exports.

The report outlines six transformations that pose challenges for the EU, but have the potential to promote the 17 SDGs: well-educated workforce and innovative economy, built on excellence in education, gender equality and social protection; health and wellbeing for all, built on universal health coverage and healthy lifestyles; climate-neutral and circular economy, based on decarbonizing energy systems by 2050 and massively increasing resource efficiency in European industry; sustainable food systems, land use and oceans, built on efficient and sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of nature, healthy diets, and sustainable food processing and international value chains; sustainable cities and communities that are productive, healthful, inclusive and green, with a particular focus on small towns and rural communities; and digital and other modern technologies for sustainable development, built on excellence in key industries, while protecting privacy, human rights and social inclusion.

The authors call on the European Commission, in collaboration with the European Parliament and the European Council, to ensure that EU processes are in place to achieve the SDGs, including under the framework of the European Green Deal. They also recommend that the EU define clear SDG targets to guide policy implementation and monitoring, and ensure coherence between the Goals and existing instruments and mechanisms, including budget, investment strategies, and regulatory governance and monitoring frameworks. They call on the EU to align its development cooperation with the SDGs to serve the needs of emerging economies and poor countries. 

An annex to the report provides profiles of the EU and each member state, as well as indicator profiles. Additional information and resources related to the report are available on its webpage

In June 2019, SDSN and Bertelsmann Stiftung published the Sustainable Development Report 2019, including an SDG Index and Dashboards. Additional regional reports in 2019 have covered Africa, the Arab region, and the Mediterranean. [Publication: 2019 Europe Sustainable Development Report: Towards a strategy for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the European Union] [Press release]