Not fit for purpose: SDG monitoring report fails to illustrate how far the EU is from a sustainable future

SDG Watch Europe has released its five questions commentary on Eurostat report “Sustainable Development in the European Union – Monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context”.


SDG Watch Europe criticises today’s Eurostat Report on Sustainable Development in the EU for failing to adequately illustrate progress and failure in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the Union. The report does not address the Agenda 2030’s comprehensive, transformative and universal nature and paints a misleading picture of the EU’s performance on the SDGs:

  • The report falls short of addressing all dimensions of sustainable development and focuses on measuring existing solutions rather than capturing what is needed to make the 2030 agenda a reality.

  • Key societal, environmental, economic and technological trends are subordinated to the Commission’s current priorities through the choice of indicator and the report paints a skewed picture of the EU’s performance. A striking example: SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) receives one of the highest levels of progress while assessments from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the European Environmental Agency (EEA) clearly show that SCP is where high-income countries, including the EU, fail.

  • The methodology does not allow to show how far and how fast we need to move in order for the EU to reach the SDGs by 2030: the report does not take into account the level of achievement. Moreover, 1% of change per year already earns a misleading sun symbol even if such slow progress means that the EU will fail to reach the targets by 2030.

  • The report does not measure the EU’s impact on sustainable development globally: it is neither able to illustrate whether European efforts in development cooperation are able to reduce poverty and inequality, nor whether the EU is able to reduce its negative impact on the rest of the world due to over-consumption, resource depletion, a large ecological footprint as well as negligence of human rights and exploitation of cheap labour – one of the biggest SDG challenges of the EU.

  • The report misses critical data to address the 2030 Agenda principle of leave no one left behind and is weak in measuring how inequalities within the EU are reduced.

SDG Watch Europe demands that:

  • the indicator set is revised based on an appropriate and inclusive procedure with adequate civil society contribution;

  • the Commission elaborates outlook reports beyond mere monitoring with a broader and qualitative assessment including the participation of civil society and researchers;

  • the Commission needs to develop a comprehensive monitoring and assessment system including all dimensions of sustainable development with both the domestic and external dimension;

  • the comprehensive assessment should form the base of EU decision making and a real transformation of EU policies and practices.

Read the full SDG Watch Europe commentary here.

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