The Slovenia Times

Sustainability conference sees pandemic as opportunity


Ljubljana - The pandemic has slowed progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, however it also presents an opportunity to emerge stronger from the current crisis and more resilient in the face of future crises, agreed participants of Friday's international conference on policy coherence for sustainable development and the EU Green Deal.

Aleška Simkić, head of cabinet of the European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, said in an opening address that the Green Deal was seen as an important part of the EU Commission's strategy to implement the 2030 Agenda.

The Sustainable Development Goals that reduce inequality, support economic growth and strive to end hunger have taken the brunt of the pandemic, she noted. The EU is making headway in moving forward towards the goals, but this progress is uneven.

According to Simkić, this summer's events have shown the negative consequences of climate change. Investing in the goals can therefore also contribute to better risk management by tackling these impacts.

Ernesto Soria Morales of the OECD's policy coherence for sustainable development department warned that we were 10 years behind in efforts to achieve the goals because of the pandemic.

The crisis has highlighted the flaws of some systems, and the goals and the resources governments are currently devoting to recovery open up an opportunity for improvement, he noted.

Špela Rotar from the 2030 Agenda task force of the Government Office for Development and EU Cohesion Policy presented Slovenia's efforts in this respect.

She noted that Slovenia ranked 9th among 165 countries in this year's report by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network on the achievement of the 17 goals.

Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan contains measures that will accelerate progress, she said. Rotar agreed that the pandemic should not be seen as a threat to meeting the targets, but as an opportunity to build a more sustainable and resilient future.

Slovenian MEPs Milan Brglez (S&D/SD) and Ljudmila Novak (EPP/NSi) also took part in the debate. The latter described the EU's recovery mechanisms as an unprecedented response that will make us emerge from the crisis even stronger.

Anke Stock from Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) meanwhile pointed out that the Green Deal paid insufficient attention to gender differences and the fight against inequality, quoting Eurostat in noting that Sustainable Development Goal 5, which addresses gender inequality, was the only one that was showing a decline.

Gender inequality was also highlighted by Sarah Franklyn of the SDG Watch Europe steering group. "If we address these problems, we will also see solutions more quickly," she said.

Matej Skočir, deputy mayor of the Tolmin municipality, which is a member of the European Committee of the Regions, said that the 2030 Agenda goals were one of the committee's priorities.

But there is little room for manoeuvre to pursue all the targets set out in the Agenda and the Green Deal, he said, adding that additional sources of funding would be required to tackle this.

The hybrid conference was held under the auspices of the European Network of Political Foundations ENoP and was coordinated by the NGO Povod.


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