Europe and the SDGs: Best-practices and Recommendations
As Co-Chairman of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens I want to warmly welcome you to our panel discussion on “Europe and the SDGs: Best-practices and Recommendations”, in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden in Vienna and Think Austria.
It is not a coincidence that we are discussing this topic here today at the Schwedenhaus. Sweden is the leading country when it comes to the implementation of the SDGs and is holding the impressive SDG index score of 85 out of 100, followed by Denmark and Finland.
I remember the year 2015 and the efforts and endurance of my good friend and partner Ban Ki-moon, while he was still Secretary General of the United Nations. Countless hours of drafting and negotiating the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its 169 targets with numerous different entities were necessary, in order to finally get the signatures of all UN Member States.
The Sustainable Development Summit in New York from September 25 to 27 with over 150 world leaders marked the launch of the ambitious Agenda 2030. To me, it symbolized the determination of the international community to mobilize efforts to a more equal, sustainable and peaceful world for all.
In my speech as President of the Republic of Austria during the Summit for the Adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in New York on 27 September 2015, I said: “The Agenda 2030 presents us with the opportunity to make sustainable development a reality, but it also gives us significant responsibilities”.
3 years have passed since the Agenda 2030 has come into force and it is time to look at current implementations by governments and businesses in Europe and how they can be improved.
What I notice when looking at the 2018 SDG Index prepared by SDSN and the Bertelsmann Stiftung, is that all countries in the Top 20 are OECD countries. This should, however, not stop us from continuing our efforts towards efficient policy implementations.
Austria is ranked 9th and even though I am no expert in this field, allow me to say that we can do better.
On the one hand, it is important to highlight best-practices and make them publicly available so that everyone, from governments and businesses to civil society, can be inspired and incorporate them into their own agenda. In 2018, Concorde Europe did this by publishing good practices from across the continent and divided the examples into 4 categories, namely: Monitoring and Accountability, New Partnerships, Parliament Involvement and Participative Processes. Our panel today should also serve as a platform to exchange innovative ideas and to empower one another to do more!
On the other hand, critical assessments and accountability are crucial for new policy recommendations and the achievement of the SDGs. Yes, Austria is under the top 10, but if I look at our scores for SDG5, gender equality, and SDG17, partnerships, I see room for improvement. We have to grasp those weak spots and treat them as opportunities for transformation, transformations that will benefit the entire society.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude my remarks by emphasizing that the Agenda 2030 is not a competition. In the end, we should focus less on ranks and more on supporting each other by strengthening cooperation in the implementation of the SDGs. Let’s learn from each other. Let’s inspire each other. Let’s work beyond national borders to reach our common goal of an equal, sustainable and peaceful future for all.