human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Sustainable development goals

development for all


In September 2015, the UN agreed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that officially came into force on 1 January 2016.

This is an integrated set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets that should guide policy and practice at national, regional and global levels based on the following principles:

1. Leaving No One Behind
All people in all countries have the right to lead dignified and rewarding lives and to achieve their full potential. Policies should be aimed first and foremost at those people and groups who are hardest to reach.

2. Respect for Human Rights
The SDGs build on existing commitments of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms based on the inherent dignity of all people.

3. Universality
The goals must be implemented by all countries, whether they are rich or poor. They promote rights for everyone regardless of where they live and help strengthen a human rights-based approach to economic prosperity, social progress and environmental protection.

4. Participation and dialogue
Policies should be designed through inclusive and participatory processes that involve all stakeholders and pay special attention to the voices of the poorest and most vulnerable. They should be monitored through mechanisms that involve all concerned groups and that hold governments accountable at national, regional and global levels.

5. Integrating environment and development
The root causes of global problems should be addressed through a balanced approach to sustainability, taking account of social, economic and environmental concerns.

The problem

The economic, social and environmental challenges facing the world, and in particular the most vulnerable members of our societies, are interlinked.

The SDGs are an attempt to recognise this and to find solutions globally to tackle these issues together.

One of our major concerns is that governments do not advance enough on developing national action plans toward achieving the SDGs. In addition, there is still not a coherent approach in term of devising a comprehensive implementation plan, universal across all policy areas. Without this, accompanied by adequate indicators to measure progress, a successful implementation of the SDG framework becomes questionable.

Our solutions

The 2030 Agenda is a call for an end to business as usual and for a new way forward. To this end, Caritas Europa is working to encourage policy makers to:

  • Develop national sustainable strategies that include a robust set of indicators capable of capturing the impact of policies on those hardest to reach. Civil society actors should be fully involved in this exercise through meaningful participatory processes.
  • Rethink policies to take into account the transformative principles reflected in the Agenda 2030, ensuring consistency with human rights obligations.
  • Establish mechanisms that allow more effective coordination between different policy areas and sectors and ensure that policies are shaped within existing mechanisms and are fully coherent with sustainable development objectives at both the domestic and the international level.
  • Allocate sufficient resources, with a clear focus on public financing and empowering the most excluded in society.
  • Create strong accountability mechanisms capable of ensuring the participation of all relevant stakeholders and concerned groups.
  • Take part in Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) as part of the global accountability mechanisms to monitor progress. Actively engage civil society in the process, allowing concerned groups to speak with their own voice.

ask an expert

Luisa Fondello
Policy and Advocacy Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 03 93