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European Union presents its progress towards #SustainableDevelopment

EU Reporter Correspondent

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At the United Nations High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development in New York, the EU reaffirmed its strong commitment to deliver on the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a shared global road map for a peaceful and prosperous world, with human well-being on a healthy planet at its core. A dedicated event hosted by the European Union and the Finnish Presidency assessed the progress made in implementing the Agenda 2030's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within Europe and through the EU's international co-operation.

First Vice President Frans Timmermans (pictured) said: "The UN 2030 Agenda is the comprehensive plan that we need for increasing human well-being and building truly green and inclusive economies and societies. In Europe, we are strengthening our collective effort to translate the Sustainable Development Goals into concrete actions that can be measured and monitored. In the next five years I expect the European Commission to fully integrate the SDGs into our economic governance model. There is no time to lose as it is the future of our children and grandchildren that is at stake. The EU must now step up its game.”

International Cooperation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica added: "The European Union and its member states were at the forefront of adopting the 2030 Agenda, and we are at the forefront of making it a reality. Together, we can do even more and even better. Working in partnership with developing countries, within the strong multilateral system, we can end poverty, accelerate progress towards sustainable development and succeed in our quest to leave no one behind."

Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said: "A shared, prosperous and sustainable future for all can only be achieved by knitting together the social, economic and environmental dimensions in our policies and future development. The transition to ecologically sustainable economic growth and competitiveness can only be successful if it promotes social rights and well-being for all.”

The European Union has already embarked on a transition towards a low-carbon economy that is climate neutral, resource-efficient and circular – while ensuring social equality and inclusiveness. The EU has also put the SDGs at the heart of its external action and has aligned all development activities with UN 2030 Agenda through its new European Consensus on Development.

However, many sustainability challenges have become increasingly pressing, and new ones have emerged, putting human well-being, economic prosperity, our society and our environment at risk. To accelerate the achievement of the ambitious and interlinked SDGs, the EU highlights its commitment to systematically review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and follow-up respectively.

Background

On 25 September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

On 30 January 2019, the European Commission presented the Reflection Paper Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030 which takes stock of the progress made in Europe and identifies the necessary priorities when moving forward: developing a fully circular economy, creating a sustainable food system, greening energy, mobility and the built environment, and gearing all our horizontal policy tools, from education and digitization to finance and taxation, towards the sustainability transition. The Reflection Paper highlights that there is no sustainability without social sustainability, which is why it is of fundamental importance to ensure that the sustainability transition is socially fair, for the benefit of all and leaving no one behind.

The first Joint Synthesis Report on the implementation of the European Consensus on Development, presented officially at today's event, shows how the EU and its member states have advanced sustainable development through their development co-operation with partner countries, whilst strengthening their partnerships with the United Nations and other multilateral organisations, civil society and the private sector. For instance, it reports significant progress in helping reducing extreme poverty through more joint-up EU action, in promoting gender equality, and in improving health services for millions of people across the world. It also highlights that the EU and its Member States contributed over €20 billion in 2017 alone to support developing countries in their efforts to tackle and adapt to climate change. EU support to sustainable energy is on course to achieving energy access for about 40 million people, with annual CO2 emissions savings of around 15 million tons.

The ‘Eurostat Monitoring Report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context' is a key tool for evaluating how well the EU and its Member States are advancing on the SDGs, helping also to highlight the cross- cutting and interconnected nature of the SDGs.

The 2019 EU report on Policy Coherence for Development showcases EU's progress on formulating policies which take into account from the outset the impacts on developing countries, a central aspect to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

More information

Factsheet

Joint Synthesis Report

The EU and the Sustainable Development Goals webpage

UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF)

2019 EU report on Policy Coherence for Development

Circular economy

How the EU wants to achieve a circular economy by 2050

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Find out about the EU’s circular economy action plan and what additional measures MEPs want to reduce waste and make products more sustainable. If we keep on exploiting resources as we do now, by 2050 we would need the resources of three Earths. Finite resources and climate issues require moving from a ‘take-make-dispose’ society to a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050, Society.

The current crisis highlighted weaknesses in resource and value chains, hitting SMEs and industry. A circular economy will cut CO2-emissions, whilst stimulating economic growth and creating job opportunities.

Read more about the definition and benefits of the circular economy.

The EU circular economy action plan

In line with EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal under the Green Deal, the European Commission proposed a new Circular Economy Action Plan in March 2020, focusing on waste prevention and management and aimed at boosting growth, competitiveness and EU global leadership in the field.

The Parliament called for tighter recycling rules and binding 2030 targets for materials use and consumption in a resolution adopted on 9 February 2021.

Moving to sustainable products

To achieve an EU market of sustainable, climate-neutral and resource-efficient products, the Commission proposes extending the Ecodesign Directive to non-energy-related products. MEPs want the new rules to be in place in 2021.

MEPs also back initiatives to fight planned obsolescence, improve the durability and reparability of products and to strengthen consumer rights with the right to repair. They insist consumers have the right to be properly informed about the environmental impact of the products and services they buy and asked the Commission to make proposals to fight so-called greenwashing, when companies present themselves as being more environmentally-friendly than they really are.

Making crucial sectors circular

Circularity and sustainability must be incorporated in all stages of a value chain to achieve a fully circular economy: from design to production and all the way to the consumer. The Commission action plan sets down seven key areas essential to achieving a circular economy: plastics; textiles; e-waste; food, water and nutrients; packaging; batteries and vehicles; buildings and construction.

Plastics

MEPs back the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, which would phase out the use of microplastics.

Read more about the EU strategy to reduce plastic waste.

Textiles

Textiles use a lot of raw materials and water, with less than 1% recycled. MEPs want new measures against microfiber loss and stricter standards on water use.

Discover how the textile production and waste affects the environment.

Electronics and ICT

Electronic and electrical waste, or e-waste, is the fastest growing waste stream in the EU and less than 40% is recycled. MEPs want the EU to promote longer product life through reusability and reparability.

Learn some E-waste facts and figures.

Food, water and nutrients

An estimated 20% of food is lost or wasted in the EU. MEPs urge the halving of food waste by 2030 under the Farm to Fork Strategy.

Packaging

Packaging waste in Europe reached a record high in 2017. New rules aim to ensure that all packaging on the EU market is economically reusable or recyclable by 2030.

Batteries and vehicles

MEPs are looking at proposals requiring the production and materials of all batteries on the EU market to have a low carbon footprint and respect human rights, social and ecological standards.

Construction and buildings

Construction accounts for more than 35% of total EU waste. MEPs want to increase the lifespan of buildings, set reduction targets for the carbon footprint of materials and establish minimum requirements on resource and energy efficiency.

Waste management and shipment

The EU generates more than 2.5 billion tonnes of waste a year, mainly from households. MEPs urge EU countries to increase high-quality recycling, move away from landfilling and minimise incineration.

Find out about landfilling and recycling statistics in the EU.

Find out more 

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Circular economy

Parliament aims for carbon-neutral, sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy

EU Reporter Correspondent

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MEPs call for binding 2030 targets for materials use and consumption footprint ©AdobeStock_Fotoschlick  

Parliament adopted comprehensive policy recommendations to achieve a carbon-neutral, sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050 at the latest. The report, adopted today (10 February) with 574 votes in favour, 22 against and 95 abstentions, is a response to the Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan. Binding 2030 targets are needed for materials use and our consumption footprint, covering the whole lifecycle of each product category placed on the EU market, MEPs stress. They also call on the Commission to propose product-specific and/or sector-specific binding targets for recycled content.

Parliament urges the Commission to put forward new legislation in 2021, broadening the scope of the Ecodesign Directive to include non-energy-related products. This should set product-specific standards, so that products placed on the EU market perform well, are durable, reusable, can be easily repaired, are not toxic, can be upgraded and recycled, contain recycled content, and are resource- and energy-efficient. Other key recommendations are detailed here.

Rapporteur Jan Huitema (Renew Europe, NL) said: “The transition to a circular economy is an economic opportunity for Europe that we should embrace. Europe is not a resource-rich continent, but we have the skills, the expertise and the ability to innovate and develop the technologies needed to close loops and build a waste-free society. This will create jobs and economic growth and bring us closer to reaching our climate goals: It’s a win-win.” Watch video statement.

In the plenary debate, MEPs also emphasised that achieving the Green Deal objectives will only be possible if the EU switches to a circular economy model, and that this change will create new jobs and business opportunities. Existing legislation on waste must be implemented more thoroughly, and further measures are needed for key sectors and products, such as textiles, plastics, packaging and electronics, MEPs added. Watch the full recording of the debate here.

Context

In March 2020, the Commission adopted a new “Circular Economy Action Plan for a Cleaner and More Competitive Europe”. A debate in the Environment Committee took place in October 2020, and the report was adopted on 27 January 2021.

Up to 80% of the environmental impact of products is determined at the design phase. The global consumption of materials is expected to double in the next forty years, while the amount of waste generated every year is projected to increase by 70% by 2050. Half of total greenhouse gas emissions, and more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress, come from extracting and processing resources.

Continue Reading

Circular economy

How the EU wants to achieve a circular economy by 2050  

EU Reporter Correspondent

Published

on

Find out about the EU’s circular economy action plan and what additional measures MEPs want to reduce waste and make products more sustainable. If we keep on exploiting resources as we do now, by 2050 we would need the resources of three Earths. Finite resources and climate issues require moving from a ‘take-make-dispose’ society to a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050.

The current crisis highlighted weaknesses in resource and value chains, hitting SMEsandindustry. A circular economy will cut CO2-emissions, whilst stimulating economic growth and creating job opportunities.

Read more about the definition and benefits of the circular economy.

The EU circular economy action plan

In line with EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal under the Green Deal, the European Commission proposed a new Circular Economy Action Plan in March 2020, focusing on waste prevention and management and aimed at boosting growth, competitiveness and EU global leadership in the field.

On 27 January, Parliament's environment committee backed the plan and called for binding 2030 targets for materials use and consumption. MEPs will vote on the report during the February plenary session.

Moving to sustainable products

To achieve an EU market of sustainable, climate-neutral and resource-efficient products, the Commission proposes extending the Ecodesign Directive to non-energy-related products. MEPs want the new rules to be in place in 2021.

MEPs also back initiatives to fight planned obsolescence, improve the durability and reparability of products and to strengthen consumer rights with the right to repair. They insist consumers have the right to be properly informed about the environmental impact of the products and services they buy and asked the Commission to make proposals to fight so-called greenwashing, when companies present themselves as being more environmentally-friendly than they really are.

Making crucial sectors circular

Circularity and sustainability must be incorporated in all stages of a value chain to achieve a fully circular economy: from design to production and all the way to the consumer. The Commission action plan sets down seven key areas essential to achieving a circular economy: plastics; textiles; e-waste; food, water and nutrients; packaging; batteries and vehicles; buildings and construction.
Plastics

MEPs back the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, which would phase out the use of microplastics.

Read more about the EU strategy to reduce plastic waste.

Textiles

Textiles use a lot of raw materials and water, with less than 1% recycled. MEPs want new measures against microfiber loss and stricter standards on water use.

Discover how the textile production and waste affects the environment.

Electronics and ICT

Electronic and electrical waste, or e-waste, is the fastest growing waste stream in the EU and less than 40% is recycled. MEPs want the EU to promote longer product life through reusability and reparability.

Learn some E-waste facts and figures.

Food, water and nutrients

An estimated 20% of food is lost or wasted in the EU. MEPs urge the halving of food waste by 2030 under the Farm to Fork Strategy.

Packaging

Packaging waste in Europe reached a record high in 2017. New rules aim to ensure that all packaging on the EU market is economically reusable or recyclable by 2030.

Batteries and vehicles

MEPs are looking at proposals requiring the production and materials of all batteries on the EU market to have a low carbon footprint and respect human rights, social and ecological standards.

Construction and buildings

Construction accounts for more than 35% of total EU waste. MEPs want to increase the lifespan of buildings, set reduction targets for the carbon footprint of materials and establish minimum requirements on resource and energy efficiency.

Waste management and shipment

The EU generates more than 2.5 billion tonnes of waste a year, mainly from households. MEPs urge EU countries to increase high-quality recycling, move away from landfilling and minimise incineration.

Find out about landfilling and recycling statistics in the EU.

Continue Reading

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