Over my past five years as EU Commissioner, there has been a global sea change in how we think about international cooperation and development support. Binary concepts dividing the world in ‘donors and recipients’, ‘North and South’ or ‘developed and developing world’ don’t apply anymore. Instead, we talk about partnerships, about a universal agenda for all, and about innovative financial instruments.
When world leaders came together in 2015 to agree the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they set out 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which are universal, more far-reaching and more ambitious than ever before: from healthcare and education to gender equality, and from sustainable cities and communities to peace, justice and democracy.
Over these past five years, I have made it my mission to put our global goals into the very heart of the European Union’s development cooperation - and to help drive forward the efforts of the international community to achieve a truly transformational outcome. I fought hard during the last hours of the Addis-Ababa negotiations in 2015 to make sure that we would have the full range of both financial and non-financial tools to implement our Agenda. And I reached out to all European Union Institutions and all our Member States to come to a new European Consensus on Development, setting out an ambitious and common vision for EU development policy adapted to this new era of the SDGs. The Consensus recognises that, while eradicating poverty is still our number one objective, we need interconnected solutions integrating the different economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
Leading with the ‘P’ of Partnership, we now have a new framework where civil society, business and people all play their part and make a difference on the ‘Ps’ of People, Planet, Prosperity, and Peace. The SDGs are systematically factored in - from the outset - in the EU’s recent flagship initiatives. For example, the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs focuses on initiatives to give people in Africa and the European Neighbourhood better employment and life opportunities. And the European External Investment Plan uses our development funding to raise private investment to meet the huge financial challenge of the SDGs. By 2020, the Plan will have leveraged €44 million in sustainable investment in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood.
World leaders are gathering this week in New York for the first stocktaking SDG Summit. As we look towards the 2030 horizon, there is still a lot of work to do to deliver on our commitments. Despite the challenges ahead, over the past five years, we have laid a solid foundation for continuing our SDG journey and succeeding in our quest to leave no one behind. As, 2030 is now.
For a summary of my work on the SDGs, please view this fiche.