SDGs: A challenge for sustainability policy

Poster with symbols for the 17 Sustainable Development GoalsClick to enlarge
SDG Poster "17 goals to transform our world"
Source: UN Communication Material

The German Environment Agency (UBA) supports the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at all levels after the UN Member States adopted them in September 2015. In addition to implementation at national and local level, UBA's efforts in the area of sustainability focus on an implementation of the SDGs at EU level.

On 25 September 2015, the heads of state and government adopted the Agenda „Transforming our world: the 2030-Agenda for Sustainable Development“ at the UN Sustainability Summit, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their 169 targets. The aim of the transformative 2030 Agenda is to shape global development according to dimensions of sustainable development - environment, economics and society. It represents the first ever universally valid set of objectives which address development as well as environmental aspects.

In addition to fighting poverty and hunger, the other basic elements of the 2030 Agenda concern health and education, the protection of natural resources and environment, responsible production and consumption, peace and security, justice and reducing inequalities, the rule of law and democracy.

Implementing the SDGs at European level

The SDGs are addressed primarily at the UN Member States level. Besides an implementation at this national level, it is very important that the SDGs are also implemented at EU level. Many SDGs are closely linked with corresponding EU policies, in particular in the sector of environment. The European Commission, together with the EU Member States and the European Parliament, is responsible for the drafting, adaptation or amendment of appropriate strategies and legislations.

Discussions in Brussels and the EU Member States are currently focused on how the EU is to shape the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in addition to the realisation at national level. Mr. Karl Falkenberg, former Director-General for Environment, has been tasked to identify sustainability-approaches in the EU in his new office as Senior Adviser for Sustainable Development at the European Political Strategy Centre. His report was published in July 2016.

UBA calls for restart of EU sustainability policy

The German Environment Agency compiled a paper to contribute to the discussion on how to restart sustainability policy at EU level. The paper identifies twelve action fields within UBA’s eco-political area of responsibility. These action fields concern sustainable consumption and its conditions, sustainable modes of production, the transformation of the economy and the protection of human health and the environment. The objectives and specific measures necessary for a sustainable development in the EU were formulated based on an analysis of the deficits in existing regulation. The position paper is available in English and German.

In addition to this, the German Environment Agency works and researches in a number of other thematic fields to achieve more sustainable development and for an ambitious implementation of the SDGs. Examples are chemicals management and sustainable chemistry, soil conservation, sustainable soil management, sustainable urban development.