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The EU Should Make 2021 the “Super Year” for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Europe and Globally


The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) published the 2nd Europe Sustainable Development Report on 8th December 2020.  In this document, the progress of the European Union, its member states, and other European countries towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by all UN member states in 2015, is evaluated.  It is part of the broader Sustainable Development Report (SDR) series which track the performance of countries and municipalities around the world on the SDGs since 2015.

SDG Transformations can support a sustainable and fair recovery

Even before the onset of the COVID pandemic, no European country was on track to achieve all 17 SDGs by 2030. Overall, Nordic countries perform best: Finland tops the 2020 Europe SDG Index followed by Sweden and Denmark.   Europe faces its greatest SDG challenges in the areas of sustainable agriculture and diets, climate, and biodiversity – and in strengthening the convergence of living standards across its countries and regions.

The COVID recovery should aim to make the EU more sustainable, inclusive and resilient based on the European Green Deal and addressing all 17 SDGs. The crisis calls for a recovery driven by transformative public investments that support green infrastructure, digitization, and responsible consumption and production. This must be accompanied with increased efforts and investments to boost education and skills throughout Europe and to accelerate the convergence of living standards.

Cyprus is not doing well

In the report Cyprus ranks 29 out of 31 European countries, doing only better than Romania and Bulgaria.  It is listed in the red category (lowest score) for 10 out of the 17 goals, with no top grade in any of them (see the figure below).  Of course, some of these results must be interpreted with caution, since depending on data sources, the information in this document may relate to the area not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Moreover, for a broad range of indicators within each goal, Cyprus is performing extremely well (e.g. poverty, equality of access to education, tertiary education, sanitation, safety at work, scientific output, clean beaches, crime rates), however it scores low for reasons not well understood. However, in an effort to help improve Cyprus’ performance, SDSN Cyprus has initiated contacts with the Government and other stakeholders from all sectors, public, private and civil society, in order to help in getting a correct understanding of the situation and to make progress in sectors where the Cyprus society is performing poorly.

Performance of Cyprus

A snapshot from the report highlighting the performance of Cyprus


The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) mobilizes scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector to support practical problem solving for sustainable development at local, national, and global scales. The SDSN has been operating since 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. The SDSN is building national and regional networks of knowledge institutions, solution-focused thematic networks, and the SDG Academy, an online university for sustainable development.  It promotes the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015

The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) is a sustainability think tank with main offices in Brussels. Working with stakeholders across EU institutions, international bodies, academia, civil society and industry, it produces evidence-based research and policy insight. As a not-for-profit organisation with over 40-years of experience, it is committed to advancing impact-driven sustainability policy across the EU and the world.

SDSN Cyprus, founded in May 2020,  is member of the international SDSN Network working with all sectors of society to improve the country’s performance in implementing  all 17 SDGs.  It collects and disseminates best practices, raise awareness, promotes sustainable development education. It operates under the umbrella of the Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation (CREF). SDSN Cyprus membership currently includes five universities/ research organisations (The Cyprus Institute, Frederick University, Neapolis University Paphos, Cyprus University of Technology, and University of Nicosia) and 3 NGOs (Birdlife Cyprus, CYMEPA, AKTI).

Download the report:

Website: https://www.sdgindex.org/reports/europe-sustainable-development-report-2020/

Data visualization: https://eu-dashboards.sdgindex.org/