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The European Union’s road to sustainability – how each EU state is doing

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COVID-19 has also slowed progress towards sustainable development. Image: REUTERS/Yves Herman

Victoria Masterson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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This article is part of: Sustainable Development Impact Summit
  • The SDGCountry Scores tool from Eurostat shows whether European Union countries are making progress on global sustainable development goals.
  • Countries are measured compared with the EU average and whether they have made progress over the last five years.
  • COVID-19 has slowed progress towards sustainable development – while also galvanizing commitment to global goals, according to the UN.

With a new focus on building back better, sustainable development has perhaps never been higher on the global agenda. But getting a good sense of a country’s progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can be difficult.

To simplify the process for making sense of huge datasets, the European Union’s statistical office, Eurostat, has created an interactive tool to visualise the progress of the EU’s 27 member states.

The tool sets the EU bloc’s average progress as the benchmark, then measures each member state’s progress over the last five years against that point.

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In Eurostat’s SDG Country Scores tool, green, red and yellow zones show whether countries are performing above or below the EU average and moving towards or away from specific goals.

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The Eurostat SDG Country Scores tool
The Eurostat SDG Country Scores tool allows you to track progress towards the UN Global Goals across the 27 members of the European Union. Image: EuroStat

A global SDG Tracker is also available online, using official statistics from the UN and other international organizations.

“Sound metrics and data are critical for turning the SDGs into practical tools for problem solving,” says the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which promotes practical solutions for sustainable development.

Country data challenges

Monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is a huge statistical task for nations, and many countries don’t report progress on all the goals, according to the World Bank’s Statistical Performance Indicators.

“On average, countries had reported one or more data points on only 55% of the SDG indicators for the years 2015-2019,” the World Bank said.

a chart showing countries reporting progress on the global goals
Many countries don’t report progress on all the Global Goals. Image: World Bank

COVID-19 has also slowed progress towards sustainable development – while galvanizing commitment to the global goals, according to the UN.

In its Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, the UN says that to get the global goals back on track, governments, cities, business and industries must use the recovery to adopt development routes that are low-carbon, resilient and inclusive.

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What is the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact summit?

These will “reduce carbon emissions, conserve natural resources, create better jobs, advance gender equality and tackle growing inequities.”

Accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is the central aim of the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2021.

Hosted virtually alongside the United Nations General Assembly, the event between 20-23 September will feature working sessions, roundtables, dialogues and briefings on revitalizing economies, advancing an inclusive recovery, scaling up climate action and shaping future food systems.

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Related topics:
Forum InstitutionalGeographies in DepthNature and BiodiversityClimate Action
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