United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Details on environmental research that contributes to these goals which aim to address future development challenges

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Research and Innovation Perspective

Sustainable development is a global commitment and an overarching umbrella also for environment-related research.

Building on the foundation laid by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) , the United Nations member states, including the EU Member States, agreed in 2012 at the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference, to develop Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are an integral part of the post 2015 development agenda which is scheduled for adoption by UN Member States in September 2015.

The proposal foresees a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) , which are action oriented, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries in the world. Therein the importance of investments in science, technology and innovation (STI) is acknowledged.

  • Fostering innovation is included in goal 9: 'Build resilient infrastructure and promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization'
  • Science, technology and research cooperation are listed as means of implementation for a number of thematic goals
  • Technology is part of goal 17 'Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development'

The UN decided to link the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda processes in order to achieve a global development focussing on sustainability. Likewise the Commission also decided to combine the two processes to ensure consistency, both at EU level and internationally.


The EU position

Sustainable development is an overarching objective of the European Union set by the Lisbon Treaty. Sustainability is enshrined in the Europe 2020 strategy. Horizon 2020, the EU's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation will contribute with at least 60% of its budget to sustainable development (integrating economic, social and environmental objectives).

The EU has expressed support for a broad vision of science, technology and innovation as important drivers of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the post-2015 framework and highlighted:

  • That science, technology and innovation should not be centred on the transfer of existing technology but on involving all partners in innovative collaboration
  • The importance of promoting science
  • Technology has to be addressed within a broader science, technology and innovation agenda. Increasing national investment in research and development, also through public-private partnership, should be promoted
  • Emerging economies are important players in transfer of technology and capacity-building for Least Developed Countries LDCs, as well as in S&T cooperation. South-South and triangular cooperation plays an increasingly important role
  • Technology transfer to be fostered in a policy environment favourable to S&T development and diffusion. Importance of a proper Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection regime at domestic level
  • All countries should increase bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation on science, technology and innovation and solution-oriented research; strengthen capacities; promote mobility and access to publications