EU progress on SDGs: the EUVR and Civil Society Spotlight Report

The EU has published the first ever EU Voluntary Review (EUVR) on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that will be brought at the next High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) happening in New York from 10 to 19 July 2023. Civil society has reacted to the EUVR by developing a Civil Society Spotlight Report that will be presented at the HLPF as well, aiming to point out gaps and challenges the EU has to tackle in order to strengthen the SDGs implementation in view of the ever-closer deadline of 2030. 

For the first time ever since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015, the EU has published the Voluntary Review of the Sustainable Development Goals conducted at the European Union level in May 2023. The EU Voluntary Review on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (EUVR) consists of an overview of EU’s progress towards the SDGs and provides a comprehensive summary of the EU internal and external actions supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The EUVR will be presented at the upcoming High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), to be held in New York from 10th to 19th July 2023. This HLPF represents a pre-summit for the SDG Summit that will take place in September 2023: an appointment for the global community to review the state of progress towards the SDGs and regain political momentum to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

The civil society organisations that are members of the consortium of the REAL DEAL project and members of SDG Watch Europe, came together to develop a Civil Society Spotlight Report - which was presented at the European Parliament at a public event hosted by MEPs Petros Kokkalis and Udo Bullmann on Monday 26 June - a joint civil society report that explains why the EUVR (and in general EU’s SDGs reporting) creates an illusion of sustainability, and flags up serious gaps and challenges towards achieving the SDGs and the United Nations 2030 Agenda. The Civil society report highlights that there is still a long way to go for the EU to reach the goals by 2030 (not least because of the recent crises that have put a brake on this path). The EUVR does not seem to go far enough in this sense, resulting in a presentation of EU flagship policies related to each SDGs but failing to point out structural changes needed to address the current challenges in the implementation of SDGs.

SOLIDAR, among many other civil society organisations, believes that “the EU has the power to pass transformative laws and command the resources needed to drive the transition towards social justice and environmental sustainability” and “the EUVR must go beyond a report on the status quo of EU sustainability policies or a presentation of what the EU is doing well. Rather, it needs to analyse the structural and systematic obstacles, trade-offs and gaps the EU is facing to realise the SDGs and transform the EU politically, socially and economically” (Executive Summary: Civil Society Spotlight Report “How far is Europe from achieving the SGDs?”). 

The Civil Society Spotlight Report calls on the EU to 

  1. Introduce an overarching SDGs implementation strategy; 

  2. Replace GDP with indicators on wellbeing; 

  3. Reduce the European material footprint (taking more into account impacts of EU policies on other regions);

  4. Truly leave no one behind by prioritising redistribution policies and measures;

  5. Improve EU monitoring on the structural and systematic gaps (reinforcing an inclusive and participatory approach, involving key stakeholders, citizens, and civil society);

  6. Lead by example: Ensure Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development.

The Report will be launched at the forthcoming High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) where the SDG Watch Europe will have the chance to present it at the official panel organised by the EU. 


Picture credits: European Environmental Bureau via Flickr