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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

EU: linking poverty eradication to sustainable development

The two challenges of eradicating poverty and ensuring a sustainable development are interlinked in the communication "A Decent Life for All: Ending Poverty and Giving the World a Sustainable Future", presented Wednesday 27 February by the European Commission. This is  the common position of the EU on the follow up to Rio+20 and to the UN Millennium Development Goals.
The Communication proposes a common approach for the engagement of the EU in forthcoming international processes and events relating to poverty eradication and sustainable development.
Also, it calls for the Millennium Development Goals, and the commitments made at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012 to converge as soon as possible and be integrated into a single framework after 2015.
The Commission’s proposal will be discussed in the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in May and the Environment Council in June. The EU’s joint position will be taken next September to New York where the United Nations will carry out a further review of progress towards the MDGs and will start planning a global development framework post-2015.
According of the communication, this framework should cover: basic human development (based on updated existing MDGs and also reflecting issues such as social protection), drivers for sustainable and inclusive growth and development to ensure structural transformation of the economy, the creation of productive capacities and employment and the transition to an inclusive green economy capable of addressing climate challenges, and the sustainable management of natural resources. Also, it stipulates justice, equality and equity, as well as the empowerment of women and gender equality, should also be addressed.

At the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, the international community agreed to step up action on key sustainability challenges and started the process for the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be taken forward by the UN Open Working Group on SDGs. The commitments made at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012 now need to be implemented, and the Communication outlines some key actions to that end.

NGOs have positively received the position of the EU, appraising the linkage of poverty eradication and sustainable development. However, for CONCORD ( the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs) the Communication is extremely light on accountability mechanisms to ensure leaders and countries fulfill their commitments, as “more clarity is needed on what changes the EU and richer countries would have to make themselves to fulfill this agenda.“ Also, the WWF European Policy Office expresses its disappointment that the EU’s position does not provide more detail on how it will address the impacts of its own demands for resources on sustainable development in other parts of the world.

Taking the EU and Member States collectively, the EU is the world’s largest provider of official development assistance, amounting to EUR 53 billion in 2011, or half of the global total.

Source: European Commission, CONCORD, WWF.