Snail or bullet train: how fast is the EU moving towards achieving the SDGs?

Publikation: KonferenzbeitragKonferenzposter


One of the main challenges of sustainable development monitoring is the question of accuracy vs. communicability. Large indicator sets assess specific (un-)sustainable trends more accurately, but it is difficult to draw an overall conclusion of progress. Composite indices, in contrast, are well-suited for communication, but lack the details for supporting specific policy decisions. Both the UN and the EU have developed comprehensive indicator sets for monitoring progress towards the SDGs, comprising some 230 and 100 indicators, respectively. A number of organisations such as Bertelsmann, SDSN, UNDESA or OECD have tried to interpret this plethora of numbers by creating SD indices and calculating country rankings based on relative status (e.g. in relation to the best performing country) or vis-à-vis virtual target values. However, these reports mainly analyse the status quo of sustainability based on most recent data but not whether countries are moving towards the SDGs in the necessary speed.
Our study addresses this weakness by applying a method used by Eurostat for assessing the EU’s progress towards the SDGs. This method looks into the dynamics of indicators over time and is applicable to different aggregation levels (countries/regions, single goals/groups of SDGs). Our study applies this method to the (currently) 28 EU Member States, using the 100 indicators of the EU SDG indicator set. We look into trends over the past 15 and the past 5 years, to assess how fast Member States and the EU as a whole are moving towards the SDGs, and whether there have been turnarounds in (un-)sustainable trends over time . To identify priority areas, we merge the SDGs with the planetary boundaries concept and related approaches, based on the understanding that the ultimate means of the SDGs is to safeguard our biophysical environment in order for people, societies and economies to thrive in a sustainable manner.
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2019

Österreichische Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige (ÖFOS)

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