UN 2030 agenda is an opportunity for Europe

Written by José Inácio Faria on 31 May 2017 in Opinion

When passing legislation, it's important for the EU to ensure it sticks to its sustainable development commitments, writes José Inácio Faria.

José Inácio Faria | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

With the 17 sustainable development goals adopted in 2015, the United Nations has set out an unprecedented action plan to fight poverty and inequalities worldwide while respecting planetary boundaries.

In November 2016, following the adoption of these goals, the European Commission published its communication, 'Next steps for a sustainable European future: European action for sustainability'.

The 2030 agenda is a globally agreed vision for a better, fairer, equal world, responding to global challenges by addressing poverty eradication and the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a holistic manner. The core of the 2030 agenda is the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and their 169 associated targets, which should be achieved by 2030.


Parliament has a crucial oversight role of the 2030 agenda and therefore has a particular duty to improve transparency, accountability and inclusive decision making.

When passing legislation or approving budgets, parliaments have to make sure the commitments made by governments are put into practice. A cross-committee would enable the Parliament to ensure follow-up, shared responsibility and policy coherence for sustainable development.

In my opinion it is vital to call on the Commission to establish an SDG check of all new policies and legislation and to ensure full policy coherence in the implementation of the SDGs. We must also highlight the importance of ensuring an effective and transparent monitoring process for implementing SDGs, based on indicators frameworks suitable for the local level and covering all dimensions of sustainability. To preserve our natural capital, it is crucial to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient, resource efficient and circular economy. 

Renewable energy can create valuable job opportunities for people in regions with few employment opportunities. In order to meet the SDGs, multi-stakeholder engagement will be required from the EU, member states, local and regional governments, civil society, businesses and third partners. 

The blue economy offers important opportunities in the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources. Appropriate capacity-building support for developing and implementing planning tools and management systems can enable developing countries to seize these opportunities. The EU has to play a major role here.

The scope of the multi-stakeholder platform must go beyond follow-up and exchanges of best practice and allow for a real engagement of stakeholders in the planning and monitoring of the implementation of the SDGs. It is important to call on the EU and member states to step up efforts to achieve their goals of halting biodiversity loss by 2020 and restoring at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems.

In the area of energy and climate, the EU has set ambitious 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and increase the share of renewable energy. We need to show particular ambition in this domain.

Sustainability requires collaborative and long-term approaches from all levels of governance and all sectors. On the other hand, the success of the SDGs is in part dependent on aligning targets and goals with existing international agreements and political processes. The UN 2030 agenda is an opportunity for Europe, and Parliament has an important role in ensuring a sustainable future for Europe.


About the author

José Inácio Faria (PT) is Parliament's EPP group shadow rapporteur on EU action for sustainability

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