EU Council calls on Member States to embed SDGs in national strategies

The Council of the European Union (EU) is urging the bloc and its member states to place the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework at the heart of their national and international environmental and economic strategies.

EU Council calls on Member States to embed SDGs in national strategies

The report calls for ambitious policy packages like the US Inflation Reduction Act

In its first annual report on the topic of ‘supporting the SDGs across the world’, the Council praises the work that the EU as a whole has taken across the issues covered by the SDG agenda, from poverty and inequality, to peace and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

But the document also states that “progress needs to be accelerated in a number of key areas” if the bloc and its member states are to play their role in realising the Global Goals by their 2030 deadline.

Specifically, the Council would like to see Member States integrate the SDGs within their national strategies, policies, budgets, financial frameworks and reporting. This move, it recommends, should be complemented with the implementation of long-term numerical climate targets.

The Council also emphasises the importance of international collaboration on the SDGs in the report, urging nations to make a “stronger concerted effort” to support their partner countries by “tailoring” their support strategies and initiating SDG-centred policy discussions. It argues that these collaborations should place a specific focus on the need for support in developing nations and those affected by “situations of fragility or conflict”.

“The Council encourages the EU and its Member States to pursue efforts to work better together, particularly at partner country level, including through joint programming, joint implementation and joint results frameworks,” the report states.

“This will help increase the leverage of the EU’s development cooperation.”

According to the Council, a good starting point for the EU and its member nations to kick-start their journey to a more ambitious and collaborative SDG approach will be at the bloc’s high-level political forums, taking place later this month and in September.

SDG stumbling blocks

Since the launch of the SDGs in 2015, 193 countries, more than 10,000 companies and investors with more than $4trn in assets have pledged their support to the SDGs.

But as more and more nations and businesses move to align with all or some of the Global Goals, research has repeatedly concluded that progress is neither ambitious or joined-up enough to deliver across the framework’s 169 specific targets.

On a national level, UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development’s (UKSSD) claims that the nation is only performing well on 24% of targets considered relevant to the domestic delivery of the Goals – a finding which spurred the UK Government to launch its first review into national performance against the SDGs last year.

More broadly, the Institute for European Environmental Policy’s (IEEP) recent research concluded that bloc-wide progress on the SDGs to date has been “mixed” at best, with specific policy targets having only been set for 16 of the 99 key indicators it believes are relevant to the region.

This trend can also be seen in the business space. Research by KPMG has found that companies are still struggling to achieve boardroom buy-in for action on them due to a lack of available metrics for tracking progress against their aims. Similarly, PwC has found that two-fifths of businesses are still failing to engage meaningfully with the SDGs.

Companies looking to overcome these SDG challenges are encouraged to read the key takeaways from a recent edie webinar on the topic, which featured expert speakers from Hilton, Thai Union, Asia Pulp & Paper and Centrica Business Solutions.  The hour-long webinar can also be watched on demand here.

Sarah George

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