We are pleased to launch the 2019 SDG Index and Dashboards Report for European Cities (prototype version). This is the first report comparing the performance of capital cities and a selection of large metropolitan areas in the European-Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In total, results for 45 European cities are presented in this first prototype version. The report was prepared by a team of researchers from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Brabant Center for Sustainable Development (Telos, Tilburg University). It builds on SDSN’s experience in designing SDG indicators for nations and metropolitan areas. The report also builds on TELOS’ previous work on “Sustainability Monitoring of European Cities” (2014) prepared in collaboration with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment (Zoeteman et al. 2014) which led to the development of an interactive platform on request of the Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (Zoeteman et al. 2016).
This report comes at a key opportunity for Europe to increase its focus on the SDGs, with the election of the new European Parliament in May, the new Presidency of the Council of the EU moving to Finland in July, and the arrival of a new European Commission by the end of the year. The European Union can and should strengthen its policy measures to achieve all of the SDGs. In that context, the European Commission’s January 2019 Reflection Paper “Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030” highlights various scenarios to support the SDGs over the next decade. The report by the European Commission highlights the opportunities to address the SDGs as part of the next EU Urban Agenda.
Achieving the SDGs will require, at the local level, deep transformations in transportation, energy and urban planning and new approaches to address poverty and inequalities in access to key public services including health and education. The SDSN estimates that about two-thirds (65%) of the 169 SDG targets underlying the 17 SDGs can only be reached with the proper engagement of, and coordination with, local and regional governments (SDSN 2015). Similarly, UN-Habitat estimates that around one-third of all SDGs indicators have a local or urban component2. The Urban Agenda for the European Union launched in May 2016 (Pact of Amsterdam), recognizes the crucial role of cities in achieving the SDGs. Over two-thirds of EU citizens live in urban areas while about 85% of the EU’s GDP is generated in cities (European Commission 2019). The urban population in Europe is projected to rise to just over 80% by 2050 (European Commission 2016).