EU Releases 2020 Report on Sustainable Development Goals

Paolo Gentiloni

Progress toward meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals continues even as the world grapples with the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are living in difficult times,” said EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni during an update on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Perhaps this crisis has showed us more than ever the importance of interdependence and the need to link our economic, social and environmental efforts.”

Gentiloni  said that progress is being made on plans to integrate the SDGs into the EU economic policy coordination framework, the European Semester. “We are fully aware of the necessity to implement these goals in their entirety,” he said.

In addition to discussing the larger policy picture, Gentiloni said the EU’s 2020 status report on the SDGs includes a chapter on environmental sustainability and an annex tracking each member state’s progress toward meeting the goals.

While it is based on pre-pandemic data, the 2020 report shows that the EU made progress on the SDGs between 2015 to 2019. For example, said Gentiloni:“Since 2013, the EU has managed to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 12.5 million. In particular, fewer people faced problems related to their living conditions, such as overcrowding or lack of sanitary facilities.”

Moreover, the report notes, real GDP per capita in the EU has increased considerably over the past five years. While the employment rate increased from 68% to 73%, the long-term unemployment rate decreased from 5.5% to 2.8%.

And agricultural production in the EU has become more sustainable, with organic farming gaining its share of total agricultural area — from 5.9% in 2013 to 8% in 2018.

“These positive developments over the past five years are of course strongly challenged now,” said Gentiloni. “We will collectively need more sustainable and resilient societies. This is a lesson of the past months. The progress achieved so far is important, but only a starting point.”

 More details on the EU’s progress toward meeting the UN SDGs is available in the 2020 report.

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