For the first time in history we have an agenda – including 17 comprehensive goals – that brings together all key areas for development reform: social, economic, environmental and even some elements of governance.
These sustainable development goals aim to end poverty and inequality, not only in faraway countries but also at home. The SDGs push for economic progress that should also meet high social and environmental standards. They aim for peace and prosperity everywhere, and they recognise how urgent the challenges are. World leaders have agreed to achieve these global goals by 2030.
The agenda is not a vision of an unreachable utopia. The wellbeing of all people and the future of our planet depend on it. That’s why it shouldn’t be just one more in a series of well-meant declarations by world leaders.
So how is Europe faring on these challenges? Well, the hard truth is – not well at all. Despite chasing economic growth as key to prosperity – and at almost any cost to society and the environment – inequality is rising and people are increasingly questioning so-called austerity. While climate change brings disaster after disaster across the world, European leaders think our policies are fine and we’re doing more than anyone else to achieve sustainability. When people fleeing war and persecution reach our borders, Europe battens down the hatches and diverts development funds to deal with the influx. Are these really the solutions the SDGs prescribe? Where have our “European values” and solidarity gone?