The Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals

Member States decided to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ​at the Rio+20 Conference. These goals were to build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post 2015 development agenda.

On 25 September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the universal, integrated and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of 17 SDGs and 169 associated targets.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs represent a change of paradigm of the international policies on development cooperation. The EU has committed to implement the SDGs both in its internal and external policies.




This is how the EU is already implementing these 17 goals in its development policy:


Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere


The EU's assistance focuses on Least Developed Countries and Lower Income Countries, where extreme poverty is mostly concentrated.

EU funding instruments such as the Development Cooperation Instrument and the European Development Fund's primary objective is the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty.


Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture


The EU approach focuses on four strategic priorities:
  • Supporting agricultural growth in developing countries, with a focus on small-scale farmers.
  • Promoting sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Fighting undernutrition/stunting.
  • Strengthening resilience to climatic, economic and political crisis of the most vulnerable populations.

Find out more about Food security and Sustainable agriculture


Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages


United Nations
In its development cooperation policy and its partnerships with developing countries, The EU favours broad sector support to address maternal and child mortality, infectious and non-communicable diseases, access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, management of outbreak risks and more broadly health systems and universal health coverage.

Through the European Development Fund and Development Cooperation Instrument, the EU provides currently 17 countries with substantive support (on average about €0.2 billion per year); in addition, the EU is a major contributor to the Global Fund (AIDS, TB and malaria), to the Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI) and to health-related UN organisations (WHO, UNFPA). 

Finf out more about Health.


Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all


The EU supports pre-primary, primary, secondary, vocational and higher education in over 40 partner countries, with a strong focus on systems strengthening to improve the planning, financing and management of education.

The aim is to strengthen education provision at all levels, and to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all by focusing on four strategic priorities:

  • Strengthening inclusion and equity – leaving no one behind.
  • Education in fragile and crisis affected countries.
  • Strengthening the quality of teaching and learning.
  • Strengthening young peoples' skills and employability.

Find out more about Education.


Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls


Gender equality is at the core of European values and enshrined in the EU political and legal framework. The EU's strategy and action plan to promote Gender equality and women's empowerment aims at changing the lives of girls and women by focusing on girls and women’s physical integrity,   promoting their economic and social rights and their empowerment and strengthening their voice and participation.

Find out more about Gender equality.


Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all


The EU is supporting developing countries in the achievement of this sustainable development goal through bilateral assistance programmes or regional initiatives.

Support to the water sector is focusing on access to safe drinking water and sanitation, wastewater and pollution, transboundary water management and cross-sectoral coordination, within an integrated water resources management framework. 

Find out more about Water and sanitation.


Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all


The EU has committed to helping developing countries provide access to sustainable energy services to 500 million people by 2030. 

In 2015 the EU launched the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+), a seven-year flagship programme to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable places tackle climate change, including the energy dimension by providing financial, technical and policy support.

Find out more about Energy.


Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all


The EU development cooperation policy: the Agenda for Change focuses on inclusive and sustainable growth for human development as one of its priorities in particular in those sectors that have stronger multiplier impact on developing countries' economies, notably sustainable agriculture and energy.

The EU promotes high standards for working conditions internationally as well as the formalisation of the informal economy.

Find out more about Employment and decent work.


Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation


Blending, which combines EU grants with loans or other public and private funding, is increasingly supportive of actions on infrastructure which have a multiplier effect on sustainable development in partner countries.

EU actions are geared towards inclusive and sustainable growth and economic integration, building on partner countries' comparative advantages in the manufacturing or services sectors. Other targets on access to financial services and technology are consistent with existing EU policy, including its involvement in initiatives such as the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion.

Find out more about Economic growth.


Goal 10:  Reduce inequality within and among countries


Development cooperation focuses on growth patterns that lead to structural transformation and that are conducive to more productive employment, higher incomes and decent work for all, which are central for addressing income inequalities. Moreover, the EU action centres on pro-poor fiscal policies, strengthened governance, fair and transparent tax systems, public sector management and domestic resource mobilisation, all of which contribute to tackling inequalities. 

Find out more about Governance.


Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable


EU development cooperation policy aid to urban and peri-urban areas focuses in particular on support to access to water and sanitation, urban mobility, energy and affordable housing, as well as energy efficiency and disaster prevention and preparedness. 

The EU promotes sustainable urbanisation as a basic tool to enhance more effective development at local level.

Find out more about Urban development.


Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns


The EU promotes for example responsible supply chains and responsible business practices of European companies in developing countries. The EU also promotes the transition to an inclusive green economy that generates growth and creates decent jobs in partner countries, notably through the Switch to Green initiative.

The EU also supports the sound management of waste and chemicals and the implementation of the related Multilateral Environmental Agreements by developing countries.

The EU rules to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing ensure that only marine fisheries products validated as legal by the competent flag state or exporting state can be imported to or exported from the EU.

Find out more about Private sector development.


Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts


The EU has been at the forefront of international efforts towards the Paris global climate agreement.

The EU is stepping up its international climate diplomacy to maintain the political momentum and support other countries in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and their climate plans. In this respect, the EU remains committed to scaling up the mobilisation of international climate finance.

In 2015 the EU launched the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+), a seven-year thematic flagship programme to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable places to facilitate the transition to a climate resilient low-carbon future.

Find out more about Climate change, disaster risk reduction and desertification.


Goal 14:  Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development


The EU is party to the relevant international conventions on marine pollution prevention and on the conservation and sustainable management of marine resources.

EU support to fisheries in developing countries focuses on sustainable fisheries management and covers three main fields of intervention: aquaculture, marine capture fisheries and inland capture fisheries.

Find out more about Biodiversity and ecosystems.


Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss


The EU promotes sustainable forest management, the fight against deforestation, forest degradation and illegal logging. The EU's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan (FLEGT) helps developing countries ensure the legality of the timber they export, and promotes sustainable forest management.

The EU also supports REDD+, an initiative at international level to combat deforestation and forest degradation in the tropics.

The EU actively integrates environmental objectives in its cooperation with partner countries.

Find out more about Sustainable forestry.


Goal 16: Achieve peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law, effective and capable institutions


EU Development policy is contributing towards achieving peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law, effective and capable institutions.

The EU is at the forefront of international efforts to fight organised crime, combat the laundering of the proceeds of crime and to counter the financing of terrorist activities and is a party to relevant international conventions and mechanisms.

The EU is committed to promoting and protecting human rights and to support accountable and inclusive democracy worldwide including through political dialogues, mainstreaming of human rights values and principles, and dedicated financial and technical assistance programmes.

The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace is one of the key tools that the EU has to respond to crisis and/or to rapidly intervene to preserve peace and prevent conflict.


Goal 17:  Strengthen Means of Implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development


The EU is committed to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda which detail the means of Implementation for the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development.

The EU is also committed to development effectiveness. It for example participates in the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. The EU also continues to be a champion of aid transparency.

The EU is also committed to promoting innovative financing to developing countries, including blending.