Posted on 22 June 2020
Nearly five years after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the EU has not made much progress on key environmental goals, such as on terrestrial biodiversity, climate change and clean energy, and responsible consumption and production. This is the damning finding of a new report released by Eurostat today.
“This is a damning confirmation that the EU is simply not taking the global goals seriously, despite its promise to make sustainability an overriding political priority,” said Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. “Considering that several of the targets on terrestrial and marine biodiversity have a 2020 deadline, it is shocking that more progress has not been made to meet them. The ecological and climate crisis cannot wait!”
WWF has long criticised that the EU still lacks a comprehensive plan of action for how it will ensure the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and this lack of strategy is hindering progress.
The UN has marked the next ten years as the ‘decade of action’ towards reaching the SDGs. Eurostat’s report shows there is still significant progress to be made for the EU to live up to this Agenda.
“The EU efforts on achieving the 2030 Agenda must be stepped up: it needs an overarching strategy with clear mechanisms, and clear accountability,” said Ester Asin. “Failure to do so will put into question the EU’s often proclaimed international leadership role, and it also jeopardise the success of the European Green Deal.”
The integration of the SDGs in the European Semester, announced by European Commission President von der Leyen, is one of the opportunities for the EU to better deliver on its commitments by including new “wellbeing indicators” to measure progress and wellbeing beyond only GDP. This data should then be used to correct course on policies if needed.
The lack of progress on environmental goals in particular shows the importance of fully realising the potential of the European Green Deal. Policy coherence between the Green Deal and other EU policies must be guaranteed, and sufficient funding channeled to Green Deal objectives rather than polluting activities.
“At a time when the EU and its Member States are devising their recovery strategies from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is especially important that recovery plans help tackle social inequalities, climate change and nature loss. The SDGs have never been more relevant in pointing the way - both in Europe and globally,” concluded Ester Asin.