European Union and its Member States
Input to Questionnaire related to the development of Sustainable Development Goals
The EU and its Member States are determined to constructively take part in the process of
developing global SDGs. The responses to this questionnaire reflect the EU and its Member States’
views at this stage which will develop further, since it is crucial for all partners participating in this
process to listen to and build upon each other’s ideas.
1. Please list a limited number, preferably between five and ten, of the important priority areas
that must be addressed through the SDGs to contribute to the achievement of sustainable
The EU and its Member States consider that the SDGs should address and incorporate the social,
economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced, holistic,
coherent and synergistic way, while capturing inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues. We recognise
that SDGs should be focused on priority areas for the achievement of sustainable development,
being guided by the Rio+20 outcome document and mindful of our position on such areas in the
context of Rio+20. We underline the need to start an inclusive elaboration process on defining key
priority areas from our perspective, taking also into account proposals by other partners.
Since the SDGs should be coherent with and integrated into the UN post-2015 development agenda,
without deviating efforts from the achievement of the MDGs by 2015, their structure and content
should be optimal to fit this important purpose. The work on the SDGs in combination with the
review of the MDGs present us with a real opportunity to ensure coherence within an overarching,
comprehensive and ambitious post-2015 agenda that will be the reference framework for our
common, interlinked and mutually reinforcing policies on sustainable development, development
cooperation as well as peace and security.
SDGs should capture key global challenges in the years to come while at the same time bring
together the three dimensions of sustainable development. Furthermore, the SDGs should be global
in nature and universally applicable to all countries, limited in number, action-oriented, easy to
communicate and linked to concrete targets and indicators. In this context, the SDGs could
encompass the multidimensional nature of well-being, looking beyond GDP measures and taking
into account the broader concept of measuring the quality of life.
The EU is committed to listen, consider, interact and assess proposals on priority areas and on the
structure of SDGs that may be proposed by other countries, the UN system, the scientific community
and other stakeholders.
2. How might the SDGs strive to balance the economic, social and environmental pillars of
a. Reflect social, economic and environmental dimensions within each SDG,
possibly through the associated targets
b. Integrate the MDGs, suitably modified/updated for post-2015, into a larger
sustainable development framework
c. Expand MDG7 (‘environmental sustainability’) into a number of goals with a
natural/environmental resource dimension (water, food, energy, etc.)
d. Other (please describe)
For the EU and its Member States, the different indents associated to the question can all be
complementary, rather than alternative to each other.
SDGs should be coherent with and integrated in the UN development agenda beyond 2015 with a
view to an overarching framework for post-2015, including a single set of goals and without
deviating efforts from the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Moreover, it would be useful to reflect, as appropriate, within each SDG upon the social, economic
and environmental dimensions, rather than having SDGs focusing on one dimension alone.
The EU and its Member States place particular importance on the need to ensure that the overall
post-2015 development agenda itself also comprises the three dimensions of sustainable
development while maintaining a clear focus on poverty eradication, and recall that strong
commonalities between the various strands of work already exist in practice, e.g. poverty
eradication is one of the three overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for,
sustainable development (WSSD §2, 2005 World Summit §48, Rio+20 §4).
The contents of SDGs should also give high consideration to the content of the MDGs and take into
account the outcome of the 2013 Special Event on the Review of MDGs.
3. Based on your experience with MDGs or other existing goals, what would be the key use of
SDGs for your country (select at most two)?
a. Defining national policies
b. Influencing national budget allocations
c. Reviewing the impact of national policies
d. Addressing key pressure leading to unsustainability
e. Helping to balance economic, social and environmental pillars in policy making
f. Guiding development cooperation
g. Other (please describe)
For the EU and its Member States, a key use of SDGs will be to help balance economic, social and
environmental dimensions in policy making, ensuring, inter alia, policy coherence and reinforcing the
impact of policies which should be designed from a cross-sectoral perspective.
On a broader level, the SDGs are also expected to assist all countries in tracking progress towards a
more sustainable path of development, identifying key pressures and weaknesses and further
aligning/fine-tuning of efforts.
4. How can “universally applicable” SDGs be made practically relevant for countries at different
levels of development? (Please refer to your country’s situation as appropriate.)
In order to ensure that SDGs are universally applicable, their thematic areas should be broad and
relevant to all countries. However, SDGs could have different implications for different countries,
depending on their capacities, circumstances and special characteristics, such as the level of
development. In this respect, particular attention should be paid to the poorest and most fragile
countries. In addition to considering differences between countries, SDGs should also be flexible and
adaptable to consider diversity within countries, e.g. important variations within societies, risks of
growing inequality or exclusion to be tackled within countries. SDGs should also be guided by the
principles of mutual accountability, respect for national ownership and shared responsibilities.
In developing global SDGs that can also be translated into national goals, the input of all
stakeholders and research-based evidence is crucial to assist in defining appropriate targets and
indicators which can be measurable by all and which can be tailored to countries’ specificities.
5. The SDGs are supposed to be “global in nature”. Should targets associated with those goals be:
a. common to all countries?
b. defined by each country? or
c. common but differentiated depending on country characteristics and level of
An approach to common problems should be dynamic to reflect evolving realities. It is also
necessary to consider how some issues affect different groups of people within countries, notably
when it comes to inequality and social exclusion, as already mentioned in the answer to question 4.
While taking into account different national circumstances, policies, priorities, capacities and levels
of development, the SDGs should be global in nature and universally applicable to all countries,
limited in number, action-oriented, easy to communicate and linked to concrete targets and
indicators, as already mentioned in the answer to question 1.
A clear, concrete and concise development framework at the global level will be crucial to mobilise
support for sustainable development, since it is very important to avoid having two different
agendas in the post-2015 framework: one on development cooperation and one on sustainable
6. Which existing goals and targets (e.g., MDGs, goals/targets in Agenda 21, JPOI) do you
think should be incorporated – perhaps in updated form – in a proposal for sustainable
The EU and its Member States consider that the formulation of SDGs should be coherent with
existing internationally agreed goals and targets, such as biodiversity, climate change, social
protection floors and others. At the same time, the SDGs process should not be used to renegotiate
existing goals and targets.
The proposal for SDGs should also reflect the three overarching objectives of and essential
requirements for sustainable development – poverty eradication, changing unsustainable patterns
of production and consumption and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic
and social development (WSSD §2, 2005 World Summit §48, Rio+20 §4).
7. What specific steps can be taken to ensure that the SDGs are coherent with and integrated into
the UN development agenda beyond 2015?
In the run up to 2015, the EU and its Member States are determined to make every effort to achieve
the MDGs. With regard to the post-2015 development agenda, it is important to pursue the three
dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced and synergistic manner and to promote policy
coherence for sustainable development. To that end, as agreed in the Rio+20 outcome document,
the SDGs can contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and serve as a driver for
implementation and mainstreaming of sustainable development in the UN system as a whole.
For the post-2015 development agenda, the EU and its Member States regard the UN Millennium
Declaration as an important policy basis with continuing relevance, while they also acknowledge that
the world has been rapidly changing over the last decade. The UN Millennium Declaration, the Busan
Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, the Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We
Want” and other related UN agreements can thus provide an overarching, comprehensive and
ambitious foundation for the post-2015 development agenda, where poverty eradication, together
with well-being and securing the means of livelihood for future generations, should be a central
In order to achieve coherence and integration between the SDGs and the post-2015 development
agenda, it is also important to carry out a thorough and constructive assessment of the major
outcomes of all the processes relevant to this framework in the past years, identifying and
highlighting elements in common considering existing similarities in scope and objectives and
ensuring further convergence in the future.
Moreover, there is need to effectively coordinate the work for SDGs development and for defining
the post-2015 development agenda. In this respect, it is important to ensure opportunities for the
timely interaction of the two processes. In particular, a critical point in time will be in September
2013, when the 68th UNGA will hold the Special Event on the Review of MDGs.
8. How should assessments of progress toward the achievement of the SDGs be carried out
at the global level?
In developing SDGs, we need to explore various appropriate options for establishing a dependable
monitoring and accountability system, which will enable reporting both on national governments'
actions and on multilateral institutions' actions, based on results oriented management and mutual
It is very important to ensure that SDGs do not simply become a long wish list of objectives without
sufficient accountability. It is therefore necessary to ensure that progress towards the achievement
of the SDGs be assessed and accompanied by appropriate measurable targets and indicators, while
taking into account different national circumstances, capacities and levels of development, and
without adding unnecessary reporting burdens. To this end, a sound monitoring system is essential
to ensure effective implementation.
9. What measures should be taken to make the process of developing a proposal for SDGs
inclusive and participatory? How should civil society and other relevant stakeholders be engaged?
The EU and its Member States believe that it is essential, even from the early stages of the
development of the SDGs OWG’s modalities, that the work of the OWG be informed by research5
based evidence and expert analysis to the maximum possible extent, as well as through the full
involvement of the broadest possible range of stakeholders, expertise from civil society as a whole,
including from local governments, social partners and the scientific community and from the United
Nations system and specialised institutions outside the UN system, in order to ensure that a
maximum of information is provided to its work. In this respect, stakeholders should be consulted
throughout the whole process of developing SDGs, by participating as observers in the works of the
OWG, by consultation through online platforms, roundtables and fora or by being regularly updated
on the progress of the OWG and having the opportunity to provide feed-back, ideas and
10. What principles should underpin the development of the SDGs? (the UN TT report, for
example, recommended adding (i) reducing inequalities and (ii) promoting human rights (iii)
It is important to focus on eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities and ensuring sustainability.
Human rights, together with good governance and rule of law, should be viewed as a condition and
at the same time as an end-goal for all aspects of sustainable development. Peace and security is
another important precondition.
11. How should a new Global Partnership for Development be constructed within or around the
The EU and its Member States would like to revisit this question at a later stage.
12. Do you have any other observations, ideas or inputs you would like to offer to inform the
initial work of the open working group on sustainable development goals?
The EU and its Member States stress that it is important for the OWG to report to the UNGA in a
timely fashion to also provide input to the 68th General Assembly’s Special Event on the Review of
the MDGs in 2013.