Czech Republic
Voluntary National Review 2021

Watch video of panel where the VNR was presented

Main Messages – VNR 2021 of the Czech Republic

Introduction

The transformation from authoritarianism to democracy which Czechia has gone through over the last 30 years has in many ways been led by the principles of sustainable development and strengthened by membership in the EU. This successful transformation is evident in the benchmarks in which Czechia ranks near the forefront (8. rank in SDG Index, 10. Rank in SDG Europe Index, 17. rank in Transformation Performance Index). But still, success must be measured comprehensively. As such we consider the VNR an opportunity for a thorough and objective evaluation that will help us find ways out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tangible steps to improving the wellbeing of Czech citizens and sustainability for the next generation are indeed our key priorities.

 

Progress and challenges since 2017

 

Czechia is well aware of the prominence of climate change and meets the EU's climate commitments. Over the last 20 years, Czechia has significantly reduced its GHG emissions but the downward trend is currently stagnating because of the emission intensive energy sector and energy-intensive industry. GHG emission intensity per capita remains one of the highest in the EU since the Czechia is an open economy with a strong industrial base. Decarbonization poses a major challenge, not only at environmental, but also at the economic and social level. Therefore, the just transition of coal regions is in preparation and the coal phase-out is expected by 2038 at the latest.

 

The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have reminded us of the fragility of our achievements. Income inequality and at-risk-of-poverty rate are low due to the effective social protection system and increases to the minimum wage in recent years. Czechia was severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the healthcare system withstood the pressure. Nevertheless, the pandemic has deepened the long-term shortcoming in the availability and financing of social services. Vulnerable groups have lost their primary earners, especially single parents who must remain at home to look after their children, despite Czechia's unemployment rate remaining at record low levels during the pandemic.

 

The social system now stands as the greatest challenge, which consists of maintaining the successes achieved so far, while dealing with increasing pressure. Leaving no one behind will now be more relevant than ever before, especially in regard to gender equality. Women still earn on average 20% less than men, and in combination with other disadvantages, are generally more vulnerable. 

 

Currently the National Recovery Plan (approx. 7 bil. EUR) is being prepared which focuses on several transformative areas such as decarbonization, circularity, digitalization, climate change adaptation and the resilience of the health-care system. Coping with lockdown also continues inclusive education reform.

 

Although Czechia is a small country, it does not neglect its global responsibility. The SDGs have been fully incorporated into its development cooperation strategy and activities. Czechia has not yet fulfilled its commitment to provide 0.33% of GNI for ODA despite its slight gradual increase in real terms (until 2019).  In line with the 2030 Agenda and the global financing for development policies, Czechia has also made progress in mobilizing private finances and promoting innovation.

 

 

Implementation tools

The long-term vision is embodied within the Strategic Framework Czech Republic 2030, which aims to coordinate public administration and deploys a PCSD lens. Since 2019, a focal points network has been in place to ensure fulfilment of the SDGs at each ministry. Czechia strives to mainstream sustainable development perspective in day-to-day "policy-making" processes. Regulatory impact assessment especially has the potential to be the most appropriate tool for this purpose, if it is amended to include a sustainability perspective.

 

Progress is monitored by three sets of indicators circa 500 - the 2030 Agenda global indicators, the national indicator set linked with the Czech Republic 2030 and national well-being indicators. Nevertheless, well- being perspective has to be further elaborated to be incorporated into policy making processes. 

In 2020, Czechia conducted its first overview of state budget expenditures with regard to SDGs (SDG tagging). The 75% government expenditures are in compliance with SDGs' priorities. However, budgeting directly based on SDGs requires major adjustments in the structure of the budget and the process of its preparation.

Voluntary National Review 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Czech Republic’s Voluntary National Review provides information on the process of implementing the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national level. It focuses mainly on outlining the national objectives and vision to be achieved by the year 2030. In addition, it also analyses the starting points for implementation in six key areas.

The structure of the review builds on the strategic framework Czech Republic 2030, which was adopted by the Government in April 2017 and will serve as the main implementation platform for the SDGs in the Czech Republic.

Czech Republic 2030 defines long-term objectives not only in the social, environmental and economic pillars of sustainable development, but also in governance, global development and regions and municipalities. It sets forth 97 specific goals aimed at improving people’s wellbeing, while respecting the principles of sustainable development. The document will serve as an overarching framework for sectoral, regional and local strategies. The selection and adoption of specific measures will be carried out by the relevant public administration bodies and supported by the activities of non-state stakeholders.

The division into six key areas (People and Society, Economy, Resilient Ecosystems, Regions and Municipalities, Global Development and Good Governance) is based on an expert analysis, which was carried out in the initial stage of the preparation of the document.

The sustainable development agenda is coordinated at the national level by the Government Council on Sustainable Development (GCSD), chaired by the Prime Minister. The work of the GCSD is supported by its Secretariat in the Sustainable Development Department of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic. Work on the strategic framework Czech Republic 2030 started in 2015 and has been carried out in cooperation with hundreds of experts and stakeholders gathered in the GCSD and its nine thematic Committees.

Analysis of the relevance of the SDGs in the national context shows that all the SDGs and most of the targets of the 2030 Agenda are applicable at the national level. While none of the SDGs have been fully accomplished, each goal contains areas where the Czech Republic scores well and which can be considered as strengths. Examples of such strengths and weaknesses (i.e. targets where progress has not been satisfactory) are showcased in each key area in order to provide a balanced and a deeper insight into the current state of implementation of selected SDGs.

The Czech approach to the 2030 Agenda implementation builds on two important concepts: sustainable development and wellbeing. In order to consider development beyond the scope of GDP and economic growth, progress in the implementation of the Czech Republic 2030 strategic framework will be measured using indicators related to its specific goals and indicators focusing on different aspects of quality of life and wellbeing.

The selection of strengths and weaknesses outlined in the report is based on the above- or below-OECD-average score in the respective SDG analysed in the OECD Pilot Study Measuring Distance to SDGs Targets (2017). Due to a lack of available data for all the SDG targets, these examples must be considered as merely indicative.

Despite shortcomings in the availability of data, the Voluntary National Review provided an important opportunity to re-assess national sustainable development priorities in relation to the SDGs and critically evaluate the current state of implementation. The report has been prepared with the support of the Government Council for Sustainable Development and its Committees and consulted with the relevant stakeholders.

The key area People and Society mostly covers SDGs from the People (SDG 1, 3, 4, 5) and Prosperity (SDG 8 and 10) categories of the 2030 Agenda. The distance to the target values varies significantly among the available indicators. In particular, reducing poverty and the unemployment rate and combating communicable diseases are already close to the 2030 target levels. However, gender equality, non-medical determinants of health (emissions of hazardous substances, harmful use of alcohol and tobacco) as well as quality of earnings and lifelong learning opportunities are still far from the 2030 aspirations.

The Prosperity (SDGs 7, 8, 9 and 10), Planet (SDGs 6 and 12) and partially also People (SDG 1) categories of the 2030 Agenda are covered in the key area Economy. The Czech economy has performed well in recent years, with GDP surpassing the pre-2008 crisis level and growth rising again. However, the energy management results are mixed: on the one hand, all households have access to modern energy facilities and the use of renewable energy is on the increase; on the other hand, there is significant room for improving energy efficiency in consumption and production.

The key area Resilient Ecosystems focuses primarily on the goals and targets in the Planet category of the 2030 Agenda (SDG 6, 13, 14 and 15). With the exception of climate action, the Czech Republic is ahead of or in line with the OECD average results for every underlying goal. The results as regards protecting biodiversity and the creation of favourable conditions for terrestrial ecosystems are particularly close to the target levels. Besides the Planet goals, SDG 2, 11 and 12 are also addressed in this key area.

The key area Regions and Municipalities brings a sub-national perspective to the implementation of the SDGs and provides a framework for mainstreaming sustainable development to regional and local policies. This key area touches upon all of the categories of the 2030 Agenda and achieving its vision contributes to the implementation of SDGs 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17. The Czech Republic scores above the OECD average particularly in water, sanitation and equality related targets; however, the country also faces challenges arising from regional disparities in income and the quality of the environment.

The 2030 Agenda category of Partnership is covered by the key area Global Development (SDG 16 and 17), where performance is so far unbalanced. The Czech Republic aims at applying its domestic and foreign policies to promote the values and principles of global sustainable development. It traditionally supports other countries throughout their transition towards democracy and a market economy, building on its own experience. However, increased efforts will be needed in order to meet the targets set for the international commitments of Official Development Assistance.

Sustainable development cannot be successfully implemented without robust institutions which are able to act coherently and draw up the appropriate policies. Achievement of SDG 16 and the systemic issues of SDG 17 is therefore a vital precondition for success in the implementation of all other goals and targets. The key area Good Governance mainly addresses the Peace category of the 2030 Agenda (SDG 16), with a special focus on challenges related to the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of public institutions. However, emphasis is also placed on equality (SDG 5 and 10) and Partnership (SDG 17) to ensure that no one is left behind.

Adoption of Czech Republic 2030 is followed by the preparation of its implementation plan. The document will establish adequate mechanisms to ensure compliance between the strategic and specific goals of Czech Republic 2030 and the objectives of other sectoral strategies, concepts, programmes and measures.

Furthermore, work towards achieving the goals of Czech Republic 2030 will also be supported by the framework of voluntary commitments, which will allow civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders and individuals to participate in the implementation process and encourage partnerships between various sectors of society. Public institutions will continue to promote the principles of sustainable development and raise awareness about the SDGs.

The compliance of sectoral and regional strategic documents, programmes and measures with Czech Republic 2030 and progress towards national goals will be monitored by the biannual analytical Report on Quality of Life and its Sustainability, prepared by the Sustainable Development Department.

Focal point
Mr. Jan Mareš
Head of Sustainable Development Unit
Ministry of the Environment (MoE)
Vršovická 65, 100 10 Praha 10, Czech Republic
Jan.Mares@mzp.cz

Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Czech Republic is listed as a partner in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform.
United Nations