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Environment and Climate Change issues are at the heart of a universal sustainable development agenda both in their own right but also due to the clear interdependencies with other policy fields such as trade, security, conflict prevention and migration.
For a long time, the EU has played a key role as a proponent of international environmental action and co-operation. The EU is a party to the Rio Conventions of 1992 which were a major achievement for environmental protection. The EU is also a party to a number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements which usually include a commitment to help developing countries in implementation of these agreements.
In the last few years and in 2015 in particular, the EU worked in an effective and unified way towards the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, and through coordinated climate diplomacy, towards the success of COP 21.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers to all – developed and developing - the chance of pulling together our resources in order to respond to the concerns of our citizens. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets will continue to guide and stir our efforts to achieve even more progress. As SDGs are interconnected, their implementation should generate a domino effect that allows good governance to empower people; that helps create peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies; that allows better educated and healthier children to unlock the potential of our societies towards a different, more sustainable production and consumption mode. Environmental sustainability is fundamental to ensuring the sustainable prosperity and well-being of all people within planetary boundaries. It must unlock the drivers of the green economy, make our economies and lifestyles more equitable and sustainable and more effective in reducing poverty. The agenda must lead to a transition towards sustainable consumption and production patterns which also fosters resource efficiency and prevents and minimises pollution, including through sustainable management of chemicals and waste. The EU will work closely with partners to implement 2030 Agenda both internally and in our external relations.
The 2015 Paris Agreement at COP 21 is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal is a historically, a significant landmark in the global fight against climate change. The Agreement provides a lifeline, a last chance to hand over to future generations a world that is more stable, a healthier planet, fairer societies and more prosperous economies.
The Paris agreement complements the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, to which climate change remains (goal 13) the broadest and strongest challenge, while promising to strengthen the whole development agenda through the multiple cobenefits of climate action (heath, water availability, air quality, resource productivity, etc.).
From an external dimension perspective, similar to other external policy fields, the EU is using its complimentary foreign policy instruments, including policy dialogue, international negotiations and financial instruments to advance the sustainable development and climate change agenda and promote its implementation in partner countries.
As for Climate action, maintaining the positive momentum from Paris requires sustained political and diplomatic mobilisation at global level. As agreed by the Foreign Affairs Council in February 2016, the EU Climate Diplomacy Action Plan focuses on i) maintaining climate change advocacy as a strategic priority, ii) supporting implementation of the Paris Agreement and the climate plans, and iii) increasing efforts to address the nexus of climate change, natural resources, including water, prosperity, stability and migration.
Ongoing bilateral and multilateral negotiations on liberalising trade in green goods and services shall also be accelerated to facilitate the global action to mitigate climate change and to create business opportunities for European companies. The EU will also continue its leadership in promoting ambitious outcomes in the context of the negotiations in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to address greenhouse gas emissions, as well as under the Montreal Protocol negotiations.
A key tool for ensuring a high level of coordination in external outreach by EU institutions and EU Member States is the Green Diplomacy Network , initially created in 2003.
This Network, managed by EEAS, consists actually of two layers. First at the level of Member States Capitals, bringing together in Brussels or through electronic communication foreign ministry officials from EU countries to work on issues of climate change and environment.
A second layer is found in third countries, where EU Delegations and EU Member States Embassies work in a coordinated way to implement EU priorities and/or organize outreach through events, seminars, public diplomacy actions and official demarches, as fostered in particular through the Climate Diplomacy Action Plans.