European Interest

‘Sustainability is a European brand’

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“Sustainability is a European brand, and sustainable development is at the heart of the European Commission's agenda,” said Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

The European Commission’s high level multi-stakeholder platform on the follow up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the EU met for the first time on January 10.

Representatives from academia, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), businesses, civil society, the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Committee of the Regions came together to support and advise the Commission in delivering the SDGs at EU level. International organisations such as the World Bank, the United Nations and the European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN) participated as observers.

The launch of this platform reflects a new approach which brings together stakeholders to support the Commission’s work.

“Sustainability is a European brand, and sustainable development is at the heart of the European Commission’s agenda,” said Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, who chairs the platform.

“We need to work from the grassroots up and use the knowledge and skills of a wide range of stakeholders to reshape our economies and societies,” he added. “The multi-stakeholder platform is an opportunity for experts to come together and learn from each other. I am looking forward to working closely together to develop the vision and the tools we need to succeed in delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals.”

In turn, Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, added: “The circular economy and sustainable finance are examples of an innovative and European way to ensure that our investments not only create economic growth but that they do so while bringing new benefits to our planet and our citizens. The experience that the platform members bring will help us deliver real results for a sustainable growth strategy post-2020.”

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. They represent a comprehensive plan of action that the European Union shares with all its partners, and which are being embedded across all of the Commission’s work.

At their first meeting, the platform members agreed to work on a joint contribution to the Commission’s Reflection Paper “Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030”, which was announced in the Commission’s 2018 Work Programme and will be adopted later this year. This Reflection Paper is part of the Future of Europe debate launched by the Commission in 2017.

Platform members also identified several priorities for future discussion, including how to mainstream the SDGs in the context of the Multiannual Financial Framework, how to generate both inclusive and sustainable growth, and how to monitor and report on progress. Overall, members agreed that the platform should assist the Commission in applying the SDGs in the European context.

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