Scientists and civil society call for 10 decisive policy actions to avoid irreversible environmental and social tipping points

At the current rate, one third of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets will not be achieved by the EU by 2030. This was the main takeaway of the 5th edition of the Europe Sustainable Development Report (ESDR), launched on 25 January during an event co-organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) NAT Section and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

In particular, the report underlines stagnation and the reversal of progress on environmental goals and social targets in many European countries, with growing issues around access to and quality of services for all, as well as poverty and material deprivation, driven at least partly by multiple crises since 2020.

The ESDR is co-designed with civil society and, since 2019, has tracked the performance of all EU Member States and partner countries on the SDGs, which were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015. The SDGs include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, climate action, clean water and sanitation.

This year's report provides essential contributions for the EU to strengthen its SDGs leadership at home and internationally ahead of the June 2024 European elections and the Summit of the Future, convened by the UN Secretary-General to take place in September 2024.

During the event, the urgency of taking decisive actions before 2030 to avert irreversible environmental and social tipping points was stressed.

Camilla Brückner, Director of the UN/UNDP office in Brussels and representative of the UN system in the EU, stressed that it was of utmost importance for the entire world to stay focused on implementing the 2030 Agenda with its 17 SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. ''Europe can continue to show leadership in implementing the SDGs and support momentum for their acceleration'', she said.

For Zakia Khattabi, Belgian Federal Minister of Climate, the Environment, Sustainable Development and the Green Deal, said: "We cannot afford to slow down action on sustainable development. We need to end with the cycles in which high political attention alternates with low political attention on sustainable development". She also stressed that we need to go beyond an SDG-by-SDG approach, and supported a transformation of the international finance model. Minister Khattabi also thanked the EESC for its opinion on advancing an EU policy framework on a just transition.

Petra Petan, member of the cabinet of Commissioner Gentiloni, highlighted that "this European Commission, and in particular Commissioner Gentiloni, have achieved great advances in the area of the SDGs: from the integration of SDGs into our economic governance to the publication of the first-ever EU Voluntary Review. We remain committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, via our policies and financing tools".

The report and ten priority actions directed at political parties, the next European Parliament, the next European Commission, the European Council and Member States were presented by Guillaume Lafortune, Vice-President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). "Political parties campaigning for the European elections and the future leaders of the European Union have historic responsibilities", he said. "The SDGs are not being achieved in Europe and globally, yet they remain the future that Europe and the world want. Decisive actions must be taken during this decade. In a multipolar and fragmented world, coalitions of Europeans believe that leaders must work together to lay the foundations for a new European deal for the future - which must be green, social and international - and pave the way for the next decades of global sustainable development".

Peter Schmidt, President of the EESC NAT Section, highlighted that "we only have six years ahead of us to advance and accomplish the 2030 Agenda. We, at the EESC, will keep pushing the EU institutions to set the SDGs as the clear way forward and to involve civil society meaningfully in the implementation. We stand ready to play our part''.

The call for action on the SDGs (including ten priority actions for the upcoming European elections and the next leadership of the European Union), which was launched with the report and co-signed by the NAT Section and SDO Presidents along with SDSN and 200 co-signatories, should guide European leaders towards a European deal for the future, in line with the green and social deal that the EESC has been urging for years.

For more information please contact:

EESC Press Unit – Katerina Serifi
+32 473 72 29 99