Sustainable development aims to achieve a continuous improvement in citizens’ quality of life and well-being. This involves the pursuit of economic progress, while safeguarding the natural environment and promoting social justice. For these reasons, sustainable development is a fundamental and overarching objective of the European Union. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, have given a new impetus to global efforts for achieving sustainable development. The EU is committed to playing an active role to maximise progress towards the SDGs, as outlined in its Communication ‘Next steps for a sustainable European future’.
In this context, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, issued a publication ‘Sustainable development in the European Union – 2017 monitoring report of the progress towards the SDGs in an EU context’. It provides a first statistical overview of trends relating to the SDGs in the EU. It indicates, for instance, that only moderate progress is being made on SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 5 (gender equality).
“There is a gender gap with regard to inactivity rates. Inactivity rates of women are an indication of the social customs of a country, attitudes towards women in the labour force and family structures in general. The gender gap is particularly pronounced regarding inactivity due to caring responsibilities. Caring responsibilities for children or incapacitated adults and other family or personal responsibilities were the main reasons why 30.7 % of women aged 20 to 64 who were not part of the labour force were economically inactive in 2016. In comparison, only 4.3 % of men outside the labour force were inactive due to caring responsibilities. This represents a considerable increase in the gender gap, from 24.1 percentage points in 2011 to 26.4 percentage points in 2016”. These reported trends are very much in line with the feedback received through our 2017 COFACE stocktaking of the needs and challenges of family carers (results to be released on 30th November in the European Parliament).
However, SDG Watch Europe (which monitors all 17 SDGs) has responded to the Eurostat report saying it does not adequately address the Agenda 2030’s comprehensive, transformative and universal nature. SDG Watch Europe makes a series of recommendations including the need to revise the indicator set together with civil society; elaborate outlook reports with a broader qualitative assessment; develop a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system; and call for this system to form the base of EU decision-making and real transformation of EU policies and practices.
Read more here about the Eurostat report
More about the SDG Watch Europe response