Europe Sustainable Development Report 2020

Meeting the SDGs in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a serious setback for sustainable development in Europe and around the world, but the EU is right not to compromise on its vision or its values. The SDGs are the global affirmation of European values. They are the “future we want”. While the goals are achievable and financially affordable, meeting them will depend on strong political leadership and ambitious policies. Sound data is also imperative to track progress. This report by SDSN and IEEP, provides such data, as a complement to the official Eurostat report on the SDGs.

Europe faces its greatest SDG challenges in the areas of sustainable diets and agriculture, climate and biodiversity – and in strengthening the convergence of living standards across its countries and regions. This year’s SDG Index and Dashboards presents pre-COVID-19 data. Even before the onset of the pandemic, no European country was on track to achieve all 17 SDGs by 2030. The EU and partner countries were performing especially poorly on SDG 2 (No Hunger), due to unsustainable diets, high and rising obesity rates, and unsustainable agricultural and farming practices. Major performance gaps are seen for SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Below Water), and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Education and innovation capacities must be strengthened to accelerate the convergence in living standards across EU Member States, and to equip EU citizens with the skills they need to thrive in a digital economy. Unsustainable supply chains and trade-related spillovers from the EU undermine other countries’ capacities to achieve the SDGs and increase the likelihood of future pandemics.

This 2020 Europe Sustainable Development Report (ESDR 2020) builds on the methodology of the annual Sustainable Development Report, including SDG Index and Dashboards, issued by the SDSN and Bertelsmann Stiftung since 2016.

Source: Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Institute for European Environmental Policy