On 20 November, the Statistical Office of the European Union (EUROSTAT) published the 2017 edition of “Sustainable Development in the European Union“, its monitoring report on the state of the EU progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Report is the first to come out since the European Commission adopted its Communication (COM(2016) 739) on “Next Steps for a Sustainable European Future“, which maps the alignment of current EU policies with the SDG framework and provides for regular monitoring of progress. EUROSTAT has selected a subset of SDG indicators (100 out of 232) which are closely linked to the Communication, as well as to the accompanying document “Key European action supporting the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals“. For those indicators (16) to which a current EU policy target is associated, the Report explores the EU progress towards that target, whereas all other indicators are monitored according to the direction and speed of change. Progress at the goal level is then measured as an average of progress of individual indicators under the specific SDG.
According to the Statistical Office, in a five-year time span the European Union has made progress towards all SDGs, even though instances where the member States have moved away from a sustainable development trajectory are also evident within individual goals. In particular, significant progress has been achieved for SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG 15 (Life on Land).
This does not necessarily indicate that the status of the goal has already reached a satisfactory level for the EU. For example, progress on the conservation of terrestrial ecosystems under SDG15 does not mean that ecosystems and biodiversity across the member States are in good health. In addition, there have been only moderate advancements for eight SDGs, with SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) lagging far behind the others. Finally, for four SDGs (including SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 13, Climate Action, SDG 14, Life Below Water, and SDG 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), EUROSTAT concludes that it has been impossible to evaluate trends due to insufficient data, something which is particularly worrying in the context of fundamental challenges such as climate change, degradation of marine ecosystems, and a rising authoritarian wave in the European continent.
To read all the key trends and statistics from the Report, download it here.