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Målen för hållbar utveckling: utgångspunkten för en långsiktig EU-strategi för ett hållbart EU 2030

Opinion Number: CDR 239/2019
Commission: ECON
Status: Adopted
Date: 26/06/2019
While the remits of subnational authorities vary widely between Member states, they have proved to play a crucial role in the achievement of the SDGs. Most underlying policies and investments are a shared responsibility across all levels of government. Moreover, subnational authorities were responsible for 57% of total public investment in 2016 on average across OECD countries. Most of these investments relate to infrastructure for basic services, over which cities and/or regions have core competences, and which are sometimes the subject of dedicated SDGs.With estimates showing that 65% of the 169 targets underpinning the 17 SDGs cannot be reached without engagement of and coordination with local and regional governments, the SDGs are clearly relevant for local and regional authorities.

In addition, subnational authorities are the government level the closest to citizens, local communities, businesses, academia and civil society. They are instrumental in fostering ownership and partnerships for SDGs on the ground. They will be essential to implement SDGs 16 and 17 which respectively require strong institutions and partnerships with all actors of society and economy.

Cohesion policy also plays a key role in implementing the SDGs. It is a major EU investment tool to support the implementation of the SDGs and to achieve the EU Treaty objective of economic, social and territorial cohesion. It is one of the most visible EU policies at local and regional level, demonstrating the benefits of the EU to its citizens. It finances projects to reduce disparities between the levels of development of various regions, helping to decrease inequalities and leaving no one behind – including remote and declining industrial regions.

Some regions and cities are already well aware of their responsibility to "territorialise/localise" the SDGs and took bold steps to translate the SDGs on the ground. The Basque Country in Spain, Aland Islands, Espoo and Helsinki in Finland, Lombardy and Sardinia in Italy, Utrecht in the Netherlands , North-Rhine Westphalia in Germany, Flanders and Ghent in Belgium are just a few examples of a growing mobilization at local and regional level.

Now, the challenge is to support these local/regional leaders to face their new challenges. It also about requesting adequate EU support to increase the take-up of the SDGs by other regions and cities which are not familiar or do not have the capacity to localize the SDGs.

The CoR is committed to raise the awareness of the EU institutions on the role of subnational authorities in the implementation of the SDGs and on the support they need. Synergies between all existing initiatives must be facilitated as well as clarity on the available support. Concretely the CoR promotes subnational good practices towards the EU institutions and requests the EU to integrate a territorial/multi-level approach to its work onthe SDGs.

The inclusion of regions and cities within the EU policy making on the SDGs will be instrumental in facilitating their actions. The UN and academia already recognized that the implementation of the SDGs can only be "common but differentiated ", context specific: taking into account economic, social, cultural, political and geographical specificities. This should be reflected in all EU institutions' work on the SDGs and help subnational authorities to develop SDG strategies at their level.
The European Parliament adopted mid-March 2019 its annual report on the SDGs and – in part following input from the CoR through the rapporteur and political groups – it includes several points on multi-level governance, the MSP, and the role of cities and regions. It is very much in line with Mr Abramavičius' draft opinion. Several adopted amendments were suggested by the CoR.

The European Commission published in January 2019 a Reflection Paper entitled "Europe moving towards a sustainable future" - which is part of the wider debate on the future of Europe. It reflects the recommendations of the EU multi-stakeholders' platform on SDGs in which the CoR was a leading member. Indeed, the CoR - represented by Arnoldas Abramavičius (ECON LT/EPP) - was part of the team drafting recommendations for the Reflection Paper which have been largely taken up by the Reflection Paper. Moreover the Reflection Paper clearly acknowledges the work of the platform as well as includes an executive summary of its recommendations in its Annex 3. Recommendations taken up include the recognition of the SDGs as a reference framework for action with a transversal approach, covering all policies, including social, economic, environmental and governance dimensions, at both internal and external levels. The CoR recommendations pay particular attention to policy coherence for sustainable development, territorial disparities and the need for cohesion, as well as governance issues – including MLG – are also included in the Reflection Paper. Mr Abramavicius and representatives of the CoR presented these during bilateral meetings with VP Timmermans and Katainen, and their cabinets.

The CoR was invited several times to speak to the Council Working Party on the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development on 27 March. The CoR Director conveyed the main messages of the draft opinion to Member States (including on the necessity for the EU to have an overarching EU strategy to implement the SDGs and on the pivotal role of regions and cities in this regard), made recommendations for the Sibiu conclusions, and answered questions from Member States. This process of engagement culminated on 10 December in the Council Conclusions on SDGs which pay tribute to the work of the CoR, cities and regions in the implementation of SDGs. This document is also very much in line with Mr Abamavicius adopted opinion.

More broadly, this opinion provided the basis for the awareness-raising work accomplished by the CoR on the role of regions and cities in the implementation of the SDGs. Several events were organised and the rapporteur, Mr. Arnoldas Abramavicius, intervened at several conferences to convey the messages contained in this opinion and shape the European debate on the implementation of the SDGs.

Right after adoption, the opinion was diffused to relevant interlocutors in all EU institutions. Commissioners Timmermans and Katainen sent a letter of reply welcoming the opinion, taking note of the relevant recommendations included and acknowledging the key role of regions and cities in implementing the SDGs.

- calls on the European Commission and the European Council to acknowledge the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a priority for their political agenda, and an overarching objective of the next EU strategic plan 2019-2024 and beyond;

- contends that there is an urgent need for an EU overarching strategy coordinating implementation between all levels of government with time-bound targets and concrete deliverables for 2030, together with monitoring and review mechanisms;

- calls for the new European Commission to take a leading role in setting up multi-level, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral governance, enabling the mainstreaming of all dimensions of the SDGs in all EU policies. Encourages the European Commission to use the Better Regulation guidelines as a tool to help design legislation taking into account all dimensions of the SDGs. Calls on all the EU institutions and Member States to align the European semester to the SDGs;

- points out that 65% of the 169 targets of the 17 SDGs require the firm engagement of regions and cities in implementing and monitoring the SDGs in order to be achieved. Many European regions and cities have been pioneers in this SDG localisation process and have demonstrated that regions and cities are essential for implementing the SDGs effectively and rapidly;

- highlights that cohesion is the main EU investment instrument for regions and cities to implement the SDGs and ensure their economic, social and territorial development. The next EU cohesion policy should have its objectives better aligned with the SDGs, to ensure better implementation and coherence of actions.



Council conclusions on building a sustainable Europe by 2030

The Council adopted on 10 December conclusions on "Building a sustainable Europe by 2030 – Progress thus far and next steps".

They directly refer to the CoR: "Underlines the critical role of regional and local authorities and cities in implementing and achieving the SDGs. The Council acknowledges the active role of the Committee of Regions and welcomes its opinion on the SDGs. The Council invites the Commission and the Member States to support regional and local authorities and cities in pursuing the 2030 Agenda, inter alia by means of the Urban Agenda for the EU and cohesion policy".

Available on: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-14835-2019-INIT/en/pdf

10 Dec

2nd OECD Roundtable on Cities and Regions for the SDGs (Bonn, Germany)

As part of the OECD Programme on A Territorial Approach to the SDGs, the OECD Roundtables on Cities and Regions for the SDGs brought together 140+ representatives from a wide range of cities, regions, national governments, and from the European Commission (DG REGIO, DG DEVCO, JRC), alongside international organisations (UN Habitat, UNESCO, UN Global Compact, World Bank), the private sector, networks of cities and regions (UCLG, Eurocities, CEMR, Platforma, C40, Committee of Regions) and other stakeholders.

The rapporteur, Arnoldas Abramavicius, presented the results of the joint CoR/OECD survey on the role of regions and cities for sustainable development.

09 Dec

The Assembly of European Regions (AER) debate “Glocalising the SDGs”

The rapporteur, Mr. Abramavicius, was invited to join the panel debate "glocalising the SDGs" and offer his views on what is needed at EU level to deliver the 2030 Agenda and effectively implement its Global Goals at subnational level.

05 Dec

JRC Week on Composite Indicators and Scoreboards

The CoR was invited to participate in the panel on "Sustainable cities" of the JRC week on indicators and scoreboard in Ispra (Italy). The CoR offered insights on the need for data and monitoring tools to measure progress in implementing the SDGs at local and regional levels.

07 Nov

Conference "Sustainability and Competition Policy: bridging two Worlds to Enable a Fairer Economy"

The CoR will co-organise with the European Economic and Social Committee, the College of Europe, the Fair trade advocacy office and the University College London a conference linking sustainability and competition policy. Commissioner Vestager will deliver the keynote address that will be followed by presentations from various academics and stakeholders.

24 Oct

workshop "European regions in the 2030 Agenda: towards a Community of Practice"

Regions4SD and CoR/ECON are co-organising a workshop titled "European regions in the 2030 Agenda: towards a Community of Practice". The session will discuss the key role played by regional governments in the 2030 Agenda, particularly addressing the reflections to scale-up isolated good practices to collective modalities of implementation. Bert Kuby, Head of unit of the ECON Commission, will deliver the keynote speech and Arnoldas Abramavicius (LT/EPP) has been invited to deliver the closing remarks.

09 Oct

Conference "Towards a Sustainable Europe 2030 – putting citizens at the centre of the implementation strategy".

The CoR is the partner of this EESC conference putting citizens at the centre of the implementation of the Agenda 2030 Strategy. The high-level political opening session will be followed by two workshops on (i) governance for sustainable development and (ii) sustainable economy for sustainable societies. Mr. Abramavicius will speak at this event.

02 Oct

CoR rapporteur participated in the debate on the SDGs during the ARLEM enlarged bureau in Ramallah

The CoR rapporteur, Arnoldas Abramavicius, participated in the ARLEM enlarged bureau that took place in Ramallah on 30 June 2019. Together with ARLEM members and a delegation of Palestinan mayors, he contributed to the debate on the SDGs, which focused on the following two questions:
(i) How can cities and regions foster youth participation to achieve the Sustainable
Development Goals in the Mediterranean region?
(ii) How can local and regional
authorities contribute to partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals?

30 Jun

Debate on the SDGs during the CoR plenary session - in the presence of Vice President Katainen

Making the Sustainable Development Goals the basis for a long-term EU strategy for a sustainable Europe by 2030 was at the heart of the discussion with European Commission's Vice-President Jyrki Katainen during the June plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions.

26 Jun

CoR participates in the management committee of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on the SDGs

The CoR participated in the management committee of the multi-stakeholder platform on the SDGs, chaired by Celine Gauer (Secretariat General deputy director) and John Watson (Secretariat General director).

The meeting aimed to take stock of the experiences of the platform in the last two years, and on what its members had done on the SDGs so far.

19 Jun

CoR rapporteur delivers a speech at the Forum on sustainability reporting organised by the European Court of Auditors

The CoR rapporteur, Arnoldas Abramavicius, delivered a speech at the Forum on sustainability reporting organised by the European Court of Auditors.

He called for greater accountability for EU actions in favour of sustainable development and also asked for regional and local authorities to be more involved in Member States' reporting activities.

17 Jun

CoR director presents the study on the "Key contribution of regions and cities to sustainable development" at the Council of the EU

Thomas Wobben, Director for legislative work at the CoR, delivered a speech at the Council Working Party Agenda 2030.

He presented to Member States the study conducted together by the CoR and the OECD entitled "The Key contribution of regions and cities to sustainable development".

11 Jun

CoR participates to Romanian Presidency conference on SDGs and partnerships

On 16 April, the CoR First Vice-President Markku Markkula and SDGs rapporteur Arnoldas Abramavicius participated in the Romanian presidency conference "Agenda 2030 Partnerships for Sustainable Development". They highlighted the engagement of cities and regions in SDGs as well as their expertise, good practices and feedback notably on fostering partnerships and an inclusive approach for SDGs implementation.

16 Apr

CoR-Eurocities-CEMR conference "Regions and cities making SDGs happen"

On 11 April, CoR, Eurocities and CEMR joined forces and co-organised a conference on the localisation of Sustainable Development Goals.
CoR president Karl-Heinz Lambertz opened the conference recalling that 65% of SDGs could not be achievd without the involvement of local and regional authorities. Besides discussing the ongoing development at EU level, good practices and methodologies were presented by SDGs champions and associations such as the winner of the EU sustainability award, minister Camila Gunell from the Aland Islands, Finland.

11 Apr

CoR and OECD presents results of survey on local and regional action on SDGs

During a conference co-organised between the CoR, Eurocities and CEMR, the CoR and OECD presented for the first time the results of their survey mapping local and regional action on SDGs in the EU and OECD countries.
More than 400 replies were analysed: results clearly show the engagement of regions and cities in localising SDGs and identified obstacles as well as possible EU support to overcome these.

11 Apr

General Affairs Council adopts Council Conclusions on a Sustainable Europe by 2030

The Council adopted a set of conclusions concerning the implementation by the EU of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. The conclusions insists that implementation requires a cross-sectoral approach and recognise the key role of the EU multi-stakeholders platform on SDGs as well as the role of local and regional authorities.
The Council also repeated its earlier call for the Commission to draw up a comprehensive strategy for implementing the 2030 Agenda.
These conclusions are in line with the CoR positions as listed in the draft opinion on SDGs (ongoing opinion on SDGs as a whole, rapporteur Arnoldas Abramavicius) resulting from rgular exchanges with the Romanian presidency of the EU.

09 Apr

CoR participates to EPSC high-level conference - Sustainable Europe 2030 from goals to delivery

On 8 April, the European Political Strategy Centre - the European Commission think-tank - organised a conference on SDGs. European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans and Vice President Katainen opened the conference and paid tribute to the members of the EU multi-stakeholders platform for their work as well as recalled the key role of local and regional authorities to implement SDGs. A video showcased the members of the platform, notably rapporteur Arnoldas Abramavicius representing the CoR in the platform.The conference was also the occassion to award the EU Sustainability prize for the first time. It went to Aland Islands region in Finland, a member of the CoR.

08 Apr

CoR participates to breakfast organised by First vice president Timmermans and vice president Katainen on the future of the Multi-stakeholder platform on SDGs

On 8 April, ahead of the EPSC high-level conference on SDGs, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans and Vice President Jyrki Katainen gathered the members of the EU multi-stakeholder pltform on SDGs to discuss the Reflection Paper on SDGs as well as the future of the platform. Members insisted that this unique exercise of inclusive governance should be strengthened and that a future mandate should be agreed as soon as possible. Commissioners, while remaining cautious due to the uncertainty of future elections results, agreed that the mandate of the platform runs until the end of the year and that work should resume as soon as possible: A management committee meeting will be organised by July to evaluate the platform as well as a platform meeting in September to discuss future tasks.
SDGs rapporteur Arnoldas Abramavicius as member of the platform participated in the breakfast meeting: he praised the work achieved by the platform as well as the reflection paper and handed to the Commissioners the key results of the CoR-OECD survey on local and regional action on SDGs

08 Apr

CoR rapporteur on SDGs participates to ENVE debate on environment, energy and climate

Arnoldas Abramavicius will participate to the CoR ENVE Commission exchange of views on the Opinion: Sustainable Europe by 2030, follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: ecological transition and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It will be the occasion to gather feedback on the environmental dimension of SDGs and integrated it in a holistic opinion dealing with all dimensions of SDGs and policy coherence.

04 Apr

Rapporteur Abramavicius participates to SEDEC debate on SDGs, social policies and innovation

Arnoldas Abramavicius, CoR rapporteur on SDGs, will participated to the debate on SDGs organised by the CoR Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture. The discussion will feed in the SDGs opinion which will showcase the added-value of a territorial approach for the implementation of SDGs and insists on the universal and holistic nature of SDGs with social, economic, environmental, governance and external dimensions.

02 Apr

CoR at the Council to elaborate on a territorial approach for SDGs

Olga Zrihen, CoR chair of the Commission for Economic Policy and Vice-president of the Belgian Senate, is invited to speak during a meeting of the Council Working Party on the 2030 strategy.
She will highlight the key role of the CoR in the EU multi-stakeholders platform on SDGs, and call the Council to requests an ambitious implementation of the SDGs within the EU as well as to give the European Commission a strong mandate to elaborate an EU strategy for a sustainable Europe by 2030.

27 Mar

European Parliament adopts report on SDGs and request multi-level governance

The European Parliament adopted its Annual strategic report on the implementation and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with several references suggested by the CoR, notably on the need for a multi-level governance for SDGs and on the continuation of the EU High-level multi-stakeholders platform on SDGs, which has proven to be an excellent exercise of EU open governance.

14 Mar

CoR rapporteur on SDGs meets stakeholders

More than 100 local and regional stakeholders participated to the stakeholders consultation on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), reacting to the EU Reflection Paper Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030. The rapporteur first presented his first reactions to the Paper, while Helena Braun, member of the EC First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, presented the paper and explained how and why it was elaborated.

05 Mar

CoR-OECD survey mapping local and regional action on SDGs closes

The OECD and the CoR joined forces to launch a survey on local and regional action on SDGs. The results of the survey will feed into the CoR opinion reacting to the Reflection Paper as well as in the OECD pilot project assisting regions and cities in localising SDGs. With the support of CEMR, Eurocities, ICLEI and nrg4sd, the survey received more than 400 replies. The CoR and the OECD are currently analysing the results which will be presented during the event "Regions and cities making SDGs happen" on 11 February at the CoR.

01 Mar

CoR participates in EESC public hearing in view of opinion

CoR 1st Vice-President Markku Markkula gave the views of cities and regions during the EESC public hearing on the EU Reflection Paper on a sustainable Europe by 2030. He highlighted the work of CoR rapporteur Abramavicius on the need for an EU overarching strategies as well as the importance to insist on an open, multi-level, multi-stakeholders governance for SDGs.

27 Feb

European Parliament committees requests multi-level governance and an ambitious SDGs strategy

The European Parliament DEVE/ENVI committees adopted the draft annual report on the implementation of SDGs in the EU. In addition to requested an ambitious strategy on SDGs replacing the current Europe 2020 strategy it adopted several amendments suggested by the CoR on the need for a multi-level governance on SDGs.

27 Feb

CoR participates in High-level conference on SDGs organised by Spain

Luc Van Den Brande, CoR member, participated to the Spanish Government high-level event: localising the Sustainable Development Goals - Accelerating and supporting the implementation of the SDGs at local level, which saw the launch of the Sevilla Commitment, the clear engagement of Spain, regions and cities to implement SDGs on the ground.

25 Feb

CoR ECON commission exchange of views with EC Director on SDGs

On 14 February, the CoR ECON Commission had its exchange of views on the Opinion on SDGs. Rapporteur Arnoldas Abramavicius and John Watson, Director at the European Commission Secretariat General presented the Reflection Paper. Members from each CoR Commissions were invited to give their input according to their remits (social policies, environment, bioeconomy, external affaires, cohesion policy, urban policy, transport...) for the CoR opinion to reflect the holistic and comprehensive nature of SDGs.

14 Feb

CoR 1st Vice President participates to EESC debate on a Sustainable Europe by 2030

On 12 February, the EESC Sustainable Development Observatory held a debate on the EU Reflection Paper on Sustainable Europe by 2030. It looked at several national strategies and processes involving civil society actors. It also look at the role of regions and cities in the implementation of SDGs. CoR 1st Vice President Markku Markkula exchanged with Florentine Hopmeier, member of the EC Vice-President Katainen cabinet, and László Borbély, State Councillor on Sustainable Development to the Romanian Prime Minister and Csilla Lörincz, Head of Office, Department of Sustainable Development, Government of Romania.

12 Feb

President Lambertz talks SDGs at annual meeting of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences

CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz, participated to the IIAS Governance Week" and talked about "Multi-level governance in the context of the SDGs". The President underlined the multi-faceted challenges public administration have to face today and elaborated on his vision of a multi-level, open and transparent SDGs governance to face these challenges.

31 Jan
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