Europe should become the global leader of sustainable development

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Europe should become the global leader of sustainable development (SD). This is the key message of the EESC opinion on Listening to the citizens of Europe for a sustainable Europe, which was adopted at the March plenary in preparation for the Sibiu summit. The opinion places SD at a central role for the future of the EU, providing a clear vision of how sustainable economic growth, decisive action against climate change and environmental degradation and a new "social deal" for a fairer society must be equally addressed. This is essential to make citizens, and in particular youth, believe in a new European project.

The work program of the NAT Section has been geared towards sustainable development since early 2016. All activities of the Section have to comply with the 2030 SD Agenda. A concrete example of this SD driven approach has been the 14th March event that discussed how to make rural areas the engines of a sustainable Europe. The transition to a sustainable Europe will only succeed when all the different parts of Europe are involved. The huge potential for sustainable development in rural areas must be tapped. This requires support for local communities and bottom-up initiatives, but also investments in rural viability,  e.g. through renewable energy projects, that ultimately help achieve a smart and competitive countryside.