In September 2015 world leaders adopted the UN agenda Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, establishing a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, ensure protection of human rights and guarantee prosperity for all. As an initial step the Commission is carrying out an internal "mapping" exercise in order to identify which existing EU policies already address the challenges set by the SDGs. The Commission has asked the Committee to contribute to that process with the present exploratory opinion.
Nachhaltige Entwicklung - Related Opinions
The EESC has played an important role in strengthening an informed civil society debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) through a number of TTIP-related opinions, adopted in 2014 and 2015, covering issues such as labour rights, investment protection, impact on SMEs, among others.
It is important under the present circumstances that the EESC, in order to maintain its position as a key civil society player in the TTIP debate, react to the textual proposals for TTIP negotiations on essential topics such as the sustainable development chapter, regulatory cooperation, investment and services. This will have the advantage not only of setting up the EESC position on major negotiating chapters but also of presenting concrete recommendations and pointing out the need to involve civil society in the implementation of those chapters.
In the past few years, civil society has been increasingly concerned about the environmental and social impact of food production and consumption. At the request of the Dutch EU Presidency, the EESC is preparing an exploratory opinion on how to achieve sustainable food systems in a resource-constrained world. The opinion takes a holistic and comprehensive approach, looking at the interdependence of food production and consumption as well as fostering inter-sectoral cooperation.
The EESC fully backs the objective of switching to a greener, resource-efficient and circular economy. It is happy to see that the Commission has come forward with a broader set of proposals covering all the stages of the product lifecycle compared to the previous circular economy package; however, it raises concern over the lower level of ambition, which is likely to lead to lower economic and environmental benefits.
The EESC reiterates its firm commitment to an Energy Union and a European energy dialogue. It supports optimal implementation of the SET Plan, which can be achieved through a joint, consistent approach involving the cooperation of energy policy stakeholders, cooperation between States, an efficient internal energy market and the consolidation and better coordination of energy research and innovation programmes. The added value of the SET Plan will derive from better coordination and a new system of governance for the European energy system. The most important task is the technical and scientific development of technologies and innovation, and the promotion of factors that encourage new ideas and concepts.
The Economy for the Common Good model proposes the transition towards a "European Ethical Market" which will foster social innovation, boost the employment rate and benefit the environment, for example through using indicators of wellbeing and social development beyond the GDP such as the Common Good Product and the Common Good Balance Sheet. The EESC considers that the Economy for the Common Good model is conceived to be included both in the European and the domestic legal framework and demands from the European Commission, in the framework of the upcoming renewed CSR strategy, to make a qualitative step in order to reward (in terms of public procurement, access to external markets, tax advantages, etc.) those enterprises that can demonstrate higher ethical performance.
The EESC supports the adoption of a legally binding agreement in Paris and strongly supports the EU's negotiating position. The Committee believes that the EU can play a leading role by demonstrating that climate policy and positive economic development go hand in hand.
A key point from the EESC’s perspective is the role of civil society in this process. A broad-based global civil society movement has emerged that is now calling for rigorous climate protection efforts. Agreements must meet with broad public approval and support from businesses, trade unions and other groups of civil society.