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Sustainable Development: the EU sets out its priorities

Sustainable development has since long been at the heart of the European project and the EU Treaties give recognition to its economic, social and environmental dimensions that should be tackled together.

The essence of sustainable development is a life of dignity for all within the planet’s limits and reconciling  economic efficiency, social inclusion and environmental responsibility.

The EU, to achieve these objectives, sets out its priorities with “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets.

The journey started in June 2012, with the “Rio+20” Conference on Sustainable Development, where Governments decided to develop global Sustainable Development Goals, building on the Millennium Development Goals but also including issues such as natural resources management, sustainable consumption and production, effective institutions, good governance, the rule of law and peaceful societies. The reports of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing formed the basis of the final Agenda package, through a series of intergovernmental negotiations in partnership with major groups and stakeholders, ensuring the broadest possible ownership of this new Agenda.

The 2030 Agenda is based on the concept of global partnership, supported by a comprehensive approach to the mobilisation of all means of implementation, and is complemented by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which is an integral part.

The 2030 Agenda itself consists of 4 sections: 1) A Political Declaration; 2) Goals and Targets; 3) Means of Implementation; 4) A framework for follow up and review of the Agenda.

One key feature is that the SDGs are global in nature and universally applicable, taking into account national realities, capacities and levels of development and specific challenges. All countries have a shared responsibility to achieve the SDGs, and all have a meaningful role to play locally, nationally as well as on the global scale.