European Sustainable Development Week: a step towards making the 2030 Agenda a reality?

European Sustainable Development Week: a step towards making the 2030 Agenda a reality?

Since the United Nations (UN) adopted the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Objectives (SDOs) in 2015, the European Union has been promoting and raising awareness of environmental issues each year during the European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW). From 18 September to 8 October, Europeans were invited to share their initiatives and knowledge of sustainable development. During a time of unprecedented crisis, this event was an opportunity to bring together different European stakeholders involved in environmental issues. An article by Eurosorbonne as part of November’s European Magnifying Glass on the EU’s cultural initiatives.

The 2030 Agenda, an overlooked global framework

In 2015, the 193 states represented at the UN unanimously adopted a common sustainable development programme: the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDOs. The agenda is ambitious: it aims to eradicate poverty and achieve just and sustainable development by 2030. However, this new global framework is still unknown to the general public, overlooked in favour of the Paris agreements…

In a bid to disseminate the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDOs more widely, France, Austria and Germany jointly proposed organising a European week dedicated to sustainable developement initiatives and events. Since 2015, European governments, businesses and citizens have been invited to record their various projects on a shared platform in order to raise public awareness of SDOs and to encourage change. The aim of this European Sustainable Development Week is to ensure the adoption of the 2030 Agenda at a local level and highlight the different ways of contributing to the fulfilment of the 17 SDOs. Despite the current pandemic, this event has been maintained in order not to lose sight of the need to take “these goals to transition towards a more sustainable world” into account.

The EU’s actions to fulfil the 2030 Agenda

The organisation of ESDW is part of the European Union’s wider commitment to actively work towards green transition. In 2016, the EU committed to the implementation of the SDOs by incorporating them into the European Commission’s 10 priorities. This strategic approach makes it possible to integrate the SGOs into public policies, to evaluate their impact and effective application, as well as to contribute to the promoting sustainable development in the world through external policies. In 2019, it was the turn of the Council to adopt new conclusions, which deemed this framework “of paramount importance”->] and assured that the European Union supports and acts effectively in favour of fulfilling the SDOs by 2030.

It is in this sense that a monitoring report on progress in achieving the SDOs in the EU context has been published, in order to assess the Union’s contribution to the objectives. Yet the EU is far from being a good example. Eurostat, in charge of the report, highlighted that the EU is lagging behind in the areas gender equality (SDO no.5) and the fight against climate change (SDO no.15). Certain indicators seem complicated to evaluate, particularly those concerning water, “due to a lack of sufficient data”. ->] The EU still has some progress to make, then! The Council invites Member States to go further in implementing the 2030 Agenda at a national level, through creating long-lasting, tailor-made solutions for their countries.

The European Recovery Plan: a new tool for the 2030 Agenda?

Following tough debates, the European Commission unveiled the details of its unprecedented recovery plan “Next Generation EU” on 27 May 2020. The €750 billion plan is designed to boost those European economies hit hardest by the crisis, but must also actively participate in the green transition. This aid is conditional on environmental objectives. As such, the SDOs serve as a compass for achieving the ecological transition objectives. The European Commission has thus reiterated its determination to to achieve the objectives set out in the 2030 Agenda through an ambitious recovery plan. Watch this space!

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