Snapshot Report Shares Europe’s Progress on SDGs under Review
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The UNECE report finds the region has made “strong progress” on a range of education indicators but calls for increased efforts to ensure inclusive education.

On SDG 13 (climate action), the region has made slow progress in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The Snapshot Report report also stresses that addressing persistent inequalities will require sustained efforts.

22 March 2019: The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) released a snapshot of the region’s progress on the five SDGs to be reviewed during the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). UNECE discussed the report at the 2019 Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) for Europe, which convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21-22 March 2019.

On SDG 4 (quality education), the report finds the UNECE region has made “strong progress” on a range of education indicators. Girls are outperforming boys in mathematics, and girls are generally strong in reading. Still, the authors caution, the region has not fully realized its commitment to leaving no one behind, contributing to inequalities in education. Most countries in the region have a rural-urban divide in educational achievement, and low socio-economic status is considered a major predictor of educational performance. In addition, migrants are falling behind in educational performance in most countries, and marginalized groups are not always included in data collection. There are also large gaps among UNECE countries in access to education for students with disabilities. The report calls for increased efforts to ensure inclusive education throughout the UNECE region.

Despite a decline in domestic material consumption, the region’s overall material footprint per capita is relatively high.

On SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), the report concludes that the region’s recovery from the global financial crisis has been uneven, with unemployment remaining very high in some countries. Informal employment outside the agricultural sector remains important in some countries, including Albania, Turkey, Armenia, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Moldova and Serbia. Work safety has improved among the worst-performing countries. The share of young people not working or studying is 15.8%. Persistent gender pay gaps also remain a challenge in all UNECE countries, undermining the potential of gender equality to drive sustainable development. Further, despite a decline in domestic material consumption, the region’s overall material footprint per capita is relatively high. The report recommends increased efforts to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation.

On SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), the report finds the pace of income convergence across countries in the UNECE region has slowed or reversed. The report estimates that nearly one-quarter of people in the EU are at risk of poverty or social inclusion. Social protection systems have contributed to reducing inequality, although some countries continue to face challenges in reaching the poorest sectors of the population. The report also finds a “strong gender dimension” to inequality, limited progress in closing gender gaps in labor participation and no recent progress in reducing the cost of remittances.

On SDG 13 (climate action), the UNECE region has made slow progress in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and emissions per capita remain “much higher than global averages.” Climate finance in the region has increased, in part due to increasing commitments from multilateral development banks (MDBs), but the report stresses that more resources are required to accelerate climate action, particularly in light of increased frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters. The report calls for increasing efforts to strengthen resilience.

On SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), the report highlights the region’s successful experiences in “ensuring strong, accountable institutions as a foundation for peaceful societies.” The report recognizes the public’s active use of the UNECE Aarhus Convention, which facilitates access to information, participation and access to justice in environmental matters, and progress in strengthening governance across the region. In addition, the region has shown some improvement in control of corruption. The report cautions that addressing persistent inequalities will require sustained efforts.

The RFSD discussed the SDG Snapshot report at roundtables promoting practical peer learning on the five SDGs under review at the 2019 HLPF. Country representatives and other stakeholders shared their national experiences and considered possible solutions and promotion of best practices across the region. In addition, a plenary session on ‘Connecting the Dots’ highlighted interlinkages among the SDGs and the importance of an integrated approach that recognizes connections between the SDGs and their targets to ensure progress across all 17 SDGs.

The HLPF will take place under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from 9-18 July 2019, in New York, US. [UNECE Press Release on Snapshot] [Publication: Snapshot Report: SDGs in the UNECE Region] [UNECE Press Release in Advance of RFSD 2019] [UNECE RFSD 2019 Website]


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