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Tatiana Ángeles

Will Europe meet the Sustainable Development Goals?

- The coronavirus pandemic and the negative effects of the war in Ukraine have slowed down Europe's progress in meeting the sustainable development goals.

Will Europe meet the Sustainable Development Goals?

The UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is derived as an action plan in favor of people, the planet and prosperity, since it intends to strengthen universal peace and access to justice, in addition to creating an environment with greater international cooperation. Said Agenda includes 17 Goals and 169 goals of an integrated and indivisible nature that cover the economic, social and environmental spheres, where the Member States of the United Nations recognize that the greatest challenge in the world today is the eradication of inequality and affirm that without achieve it there can be no sustainable development.

This resolution will govern world development programs for the next 15 years and by adopting it, States commit to mobilizing the necessary means for its implementation through alliances focused especially on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. In addition to ending world poverty, the SDGs include, among other points, eradicating hunger and achieving food security; guarantee a healthy life and quality education; achieve gender equality; ensure access to water and energy; promote sustained economic growth; take urgent action against climate change; promote peace and facilitate access to justice. (United Nations, 2015)

This implies a common and universal commitment that puts the equality and dignity of people at the center and calls for a change in our style of development, respecting the environment, that is, it acts as a universal commitment acquired by both developed and developing countries. However, this does not mean that the challenges of each country are the same for all and, therefore, States must have full sovereignty over their wealth, resources and economic activity, each setting their own national goals, adhering to the Development Goals. Sustainable Development (SDG).

The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not only a fundamental pillar of United Nations policy, but are also a priority for Europe, a large part of the community roadmap for the coming decades is contained within decrease in crime, poverty, health improvements or economic growth, in the same way, in little respect is the environment focused with the Green Deal or European Green Pact, a pact that arose with the need to create a habitable global environment that respects and preserves biodiversity, implementing a series of measures to address the challenges related to climate and the environment, in addition to the fact that Europe will be the first continent to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, generates great influence and progress since, landing its strategies and action plans on biodiversity, circular economy or gender equality. (BBVA, 2021)

Given this, Europe has made good progress in the last five years in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, but the recent coronavirus pandemic and the negative effects of the war in Ukraine have slowed down progress. Causing that the region must accelerate the process or reverse current trends to achieve its ambitions for 2030, since its greatest conditions derive from gender equality, where the main actor is women and their great limitations at the time of being contracted, another factor is the stagnation in the measures related to the fight against climate change, there are still great challenges due to the increase in temperature on earth or the quality of aquatic ecosystems, these factors constitute a special limitation to achieve the goals of the programs (Eurostat, 2020)

These aspects are calculated through a report that is issued each year (Eurostat), which is responsible for publishing a document in which the main trends in the progress of the 2030 Agenda are analyzed through quantitative and qualitative indicators, taking as reference the In the last five years, the most recent one indicates that Europe has been able to make significant progress in most of the SDG targets, although said progress has been largely impacted by external situations that limit and threaten a setback in the progress that has been achieved . (Eurostat, 2020)

It is clear to mention that Europe has improved in almost all the SDGs according to the available data and indicators evaluated by Eurostat, although within the goals there may have been a worsening in specific areas. This means that the general evaluation of particularly important targets such as SDG 13 "Climate Action" is more or less neutral and does not carry as much weight as mentioned. On the one hand, positive trends are visible on issues such as climate mitigation, thanks to the growing share of renewable energy in Europe, or support for climate action, which has had a strong push thanks to to the launch of different climate laws or the growing financial support for developing countries. However, it is negatively affected by the deterioration of other indicators, which intensify the deficiencies or the extra challenges in climate impacts. (The Agora, 2021)

According to the report, Europe has made the greatest progress in the last five years with SDG 16 "Peace, justice and strong institutions", significant progress has also been observed in reducing poverty and social exclusion (SDG 1) and in improving the health situation of European countries (SDG 3). However, with the exception of extreme poverty, which is rare in the region, and the reduction of income inequality, they are not on track to be achieved by 2030. The region is on track to meet target 5.b on the use of technology to promote women's empowerment, but not the other measurable gender equality goals. Efforts must be accelerated to reduce disparities between women and men in the home (target 5.4) and in the public sphere (target 5.5). (UN News, 2022)

Due to the time lag of some indicators, which still do not have complete data for last year, the evaluation of these two goals on poverty and health still refers to the period up to 2019 and therefore does not yet reflect the impacts of the health crisis.

In the area of water and energy, much progress has been made in access to basic services such as drinking water (target 6.1) and energy (target 7.1). To guarantee the availability and sustainability of water and sanitation, the region must accelerate progress in terms of sanitation (goal 6.2), water quality (goal 6.3), efficiency in the use of water (goal 6.4) and in international cooperation and national management of water resources (target 6.5). (UN News, 2022) In addition, the European Commission will gradually integrate the SDGs into the European Semester, which Brussels uses to coordinate the budgetary policies of the Member States, with the aim of advancing towards "sustainable competitiveness", where most countries increase the use of renewable energy (target 7.2) and improve energy efficiency.

However, in other areas it has already been possible to observe how the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly slowed down average progress, especially in the case of the economy and the labor market (SDG 8), where the health crisis has interrupted continuous improvement, observed since 2013, but similar impacts can also be observed in the areas of education (SDG 4), gender equality (SDG 5) and other inequalities (SDG 10), as well as global partnerships and means of implementation (SDG 17). Despite this, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of international cooperation around science and technology, and advances in the region are important in this scope (UN News, 2022)

Although, the inconveniences that currently occur within the European region range from late international economic growth (due to pandemic issues), social inequalities and environmental degradation, that is, great unprecedented challenges. Indeed, the current reality needs to establish major transformations towards a sustainable, inclusive development paradigm with a long-term vision, where countries can act against the lasting effects of the pandemic, crisis or external situations.



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Ángeles, Tatiana. “¿Cumplirá Europa con los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible?.” CEMERI, 15 ago. 2023,