The need for sustainable development

Sustainable development aims to meet the needs of present generations without jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It provides a comprehensive approach bringing together economic, social and environmental considerations in ways that mutually reinforce each other.

The global framework

The UN's 2030 Agenda, adopted by world leaders in 2015, represents the new global sustainable development framework and sets 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 worldwide, ensuring that no one is left behind.

The SDGs balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. They provide concrete objectives for the next 15 years, focussed inter alia on:

  • human dignity
  • regional and global stability
  • a healthy planet
  • fair and resilient societies
  • prosperous economies.

They help to promote convergence between EU countries, within societies and with the rest of the world.

EU commitment to sustainable development

The EU has a strong starting position when it comes to sustainable development and is also fully committed to be a frontrunner in implementing the UN's 2030 Agenda, together with its member countries. The SDGs feature in all of the European Commission’s 10 priorities.

In November 2016, the European Commission outlined its strategic approach towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals.

Link: "Next steps for a sustainable European future"

Key actions for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda:

  • include the SDGs into EU policies and initiatives across the board, with sustainable development as an essential guiding principle for all European Commission policies
  • provide regular reporting of the EU's progress as of 2017
  • take the implementation of the 2030 Agenda forward with EU governments, the European Parliament, other European institutions, international organisations, civil society organisations, citizens and other stakeholders
  • launch a high-level multi-stakeholder platform, supporting the exchange of best practices on implementation across sectors at national and EU level
  • launch a longer term vision with a post 2020 perspective.

In order to promote sustainable development around the world, the EU will continue working with external partners, using all the tools that are available under its external policies and support in particular the efforts in developing countries.