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Current crises must lead to a change of pace in achieving Sustainable Development Goals  

​​​​ President Cordeiro: "SDGs remain our framework to build a stronger and fairer Europe for all"

Faced with the risk of a slowdown in the fight against the climate crisis and of increasing territorial and social disparities, local and regional leaders have called for greater EU engagement to accelerate efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the EU and get on track with the 2030 deadline. An increasing number of cities and regions are using the SDGs to build strong and resilient overall recovery strategies. During the 8 February plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), regional and local leaders shared with UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed, good practices from the ground, demonstrating that cities and regions are leading the way to a fairer, greener and more prosperous future.

The SDGs are potentially the only holistic compass able to balance out the multiplication of frameworks and strategies for the future at all levels, from the Paris Agreement on climate change to National Recovery and Resilience Plans, from the European Green Deal to the new Urban Agenda. However, they are too often neglected when EU policies are designed, as it is the case for the Recovery plan for Europe, and the current crises such as the pandemic and the rising inflation could represent a setback in the progress towards their achievement.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro (PT/PES), said: " We are just seven years away from 2030 and the deadline for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. They remain our framework to build a stronger and fairer Europe for all, even when faced with many different crises. Cities and regions are committed to building a socio-economic recovery that puts people, climate and social justice together. ​Going from strategy to delivery is vital. Cities and Regions are key to making the SDGs a reality ."

Amina J. Mohammed , Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, addressed local and regional leaders, highlighting that " we urgently need to redouble our efforts on sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda. As Members of the European Committee of Regions, you have an essential role in bringing the SDGs down to earth and making them real and concrete in people’s lives”. She also said: “policies and initiatives that have been tried and tested by cities and regions can catalyze change that will save and improve lives and livelihoods around the world .”

CoR members collected their requests and concerns in the opinion "Progress in the implementation of SDGs", adopted during the Plenary. The rapporteur, Ricardo Rio (PT/EPP), Mayor of Braga, stated: " This opinion stresses the importance of a stronger commitment to the fulfillment of the SDGs by all levels of government, a process in which the European Union can benefit from the cities' and regions' experience and exchange of best practices. In a decisive year in which the EU shall present its first voluntary review, Europe must lead by example, supporting the local and regional authorities' efforts with further financial support and establishing intercontinental connections. It is also time to look ahead and create a framework that assures the purpose of the SDGs beyond 2030.

The OECD estimates that 65% of the targets under the SDGs cannot be reached without the coordination or involvement of local and regional authorities. Regions and cities therefore have a key role to play in achieving the 17 Sustainable and Development Goals of the United Nations.

The CoR criticises the current SDGs monitoring system as it doesn't include clear targets for the EU, and stresses that monitoring the progress of SDGs at regional and local level is crucial in efforts to design evidence-based policies. To that end, the Committee supports the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and Eurostat in a pilot project 'Regions 2030' that aims to create a framework with which regions can monitor progress towards meeting the SDGs in their territory. Ten European regions already joined the pilot project (full list).

Background:

According to an OECD report based on a survey carried out jointly with the CoR, 40% of local and regional authorities were already using the SDGs before the pandemic and have started to use them to shape the recovery phase. Another 44% have not yet started to use the SDGs in the recovery but are planning to do so in the future. Two-thirds – 68% – of regions and cities use the SDGs to shape new plans, policies and strategies or to adapt existing ones to the 2030 Agenda.

The European Commission is drafting the first EU Voluntary Review to report on SDGs at the United Nations this year. The CoR ensured that local and regional good practices on SDGs will be featured in the review.

In 2021 the CoR adopted an opinion entitled "Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030", which was also drafted by Ricardo Rio.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. The Agenda's cornerstone is a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be reached by 2030.

Over the past five years of available data, the EU made progress towards most SDGs goals. Progress on some goals was faster than on others, and within goals, movement away from the sustainable development objectives also occurred in specific areas (Eurostat data​).

Contacts:

Monica Tiberi – Spokesperson of the President
Tel: +32 479 51 74 43
monica.tiberi@cor.europa.eu

Matteo Miglietta

Tel. +32 (0) 470 89 53 82

matteo.miglietta@cor.europa.eu


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