Europe is already a forerunner in sustainability, but faces complex global challenges which need to be tackled. The Paris Agreement and global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without a true partnership with regions and cities, who are on the front line in making sustainable development a reality on the ground.

“Localising sustainable development actions in climate, energy and environmental policies is crucial for achieving the 2030 Agenda”, said Sirpa Hertell (EPP/FI), whose opinion on Sustainable Europe by 2030: Follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, ecological transition and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was adopted today at the October plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). It calls for integrated, inclusive local goals and targets, implementation actions and indicators for sustainable development in line with the principle of multi-level governance.

Cities account for 70 per cent of world greenhouse emissions, with local governments being responsible for more than 70 per cent of climate change reduction measures and up to 90 per cent of climate adaptation actions. Hertell’s opinion calls on the EU to officially recognise an active role for cities and regions in the drafting of climate and energy policies and regulations.

The EU needs a holistic, systematic climate policy, as opposed to the current approach which is fragmented between various policies and sectors, funding instruments and different types of regions.

The rapporteur also requests the tightening of EU climate targets according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1.5 C objectives.

Hertell welcomes President-elect Ursula van der Leyen‘s ambition for a European Green Deal, which the Commission will propose in the coming months. The Deal is expected to increase EU-wide efforts towards climate neutrality by 2050 and boost green investments by 1 trillion € over the next 10 years via the new Sustainable Europe Investment Plan.

“The climate and energy transitions we are facing require significant investments in innovation and in the green and blue economy. The European Commission’s new green deal is a positive step in the right direction, provided that it takes cities and regions on board in its implementation”, said Sirpa Hertell.

Addressing Tytti Tuppurainen, Finnish Minister of European Affairs, Hertell said: “We can achieve the SDGs only if the EU and national levels work together with cities and regions; it is us who can transform these goals locally into sustainable projects. This is what we have done successfully in my city of Espoo.”

See all articles