Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

Speech by Commissioner Vella at the UN HLPF for Sustainable Development, side event hosted by the European Union and the Government of Finland : “Delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Europe and the World"

New York, 18/07/2019 - 21:38, UNIQUE ID: 190718_19

18 July 2019, New York - Speech by Commissioner Vella at the UN HLPF for Sustainable Development, side event hosted by the European Union and the Government of Finland : “Delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Europe and the World"

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to have you with us today to discuss our most ambitious roadmap to a better world – the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.  

The First Vice-President Mr Frans Timmermans, who has led the SDG implementation from the European Commission’s side, would have loved to be here today and sends his apologies.

The European Union is strongly committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda. Sustainable development is part of our Union’s identity and it will guide our future.

For the first time in human history, our planet is approaching the end of its ability to carry us all.

In the next 10 years, we will need to find the way to improve the wellbeing of all people without depleting our natural resources, damaging our environment and spurring climate change.

Our second big collective challenge is to reduce inequalities. In Europe we can be proud of having some of the world’s most ambitious social policies but even in Europe too many people have been left behind.

This in mind, even though good progress has already been made, we in the European Union aim to further enhance our efforts to shift to a green and inclusive economy by 2030.

Today’s focus is on progress and delivery. What have we already achieved in the European Union and what are the steps we still need to take in the years ahead?

Looking back at the past years, the European Union has been mainstreaming the SDGs systematically in all its internal and external policies.

In 2015 we developed a Circular Economy Action Plan to move Europe away from the “take-make-consume-throw away” system and instead build a truly circular economy where products are designed for reuse and recycling, and waste is a valuable resource.

The EU Plastics Strategy and recently adopted EU wide legislation on banning certain single-use plastics is a leading example of our circular economy plan.

The European Pillar of Social Rights is our main guidance for implementing the social dimension of sustainability in the EU. It focusses on tackling poverty in all its dimensions and ensuring fair, adequate and sustainable welfare systems. It also supports equal opportunities, including gender equality, and access to decent employment; and it promotes fair working conditions for all.

The Action Plan on Sustainable Finance is a third example I would mention as it will provide for the first time investors with full information on what is a sustainable investment, so that finance can start fully supporting our sustainability objectives.

Last January, we published a Reflection Paper “Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030”.

We identified that it is absolutely key that we:

    • Continue moving from a linear to a circular economy;
    • Put our food system on a fully sustainable path;
    • Clean our energy, buildings and mobility; and 
    • Make sure that these green transitions are socially fair.

We have made sure to focus as much of our effort on the 70 percent of our planet that is blue, the ocean.

To help protect our ocean, we have lead the way in the fight against plastic waste, we have helped improve ocean governance, we have worked with this ‘house’ to protect biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) and we have worked to harness the awesome sustainable power that the ocean can bring.

We have attracted private sector investment and created long term financial platforms for ocean research. 

I am proud that we have brought green principles to blue territory.

The ocean is that which literally connects us all.

To do all that we need the enabling environment, which means we also have to gear our other policies and tools towards the sustainability transition. This includes the so-called ‘horizontal enablers:

    • Education, science, research, innovation and digitisation;
    • Finance, taxation and pricing so that sustainable products and services become the norm; and
    • Responsible business conduct, and our trade policy.

Good governance is also key.

Europe has a very good starting point and we are convinced that we can greatly benefit from the green economic transition while helping to shape global standards.

We want to continue working in close cooperation with all our international partners.

Allow me to again sincerely thank you for being with us here today.