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Source: Small Island Developing States

22 May 2019: The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Brabant Center for Sustainable Development released the ‘SDG Index and Dashboards Report for European Cities.’ The report compares the performance of European capital cities and selected metropolitan areas on the SDGs.

According to SDSN, approximately 65% of the SDGs’ 169 targets “will not be reached without proper engagement of, and coordination with, local and regional governments.” In addition, SDSN emphasizes that action at local levels is critical to achieve transformation in energy, transportation and urban planning, as well as in access to health and education, among other areas.

The first-ever SDG Index and Dashboards Report for European Cities features 45 European cities and covers 56 indicators. Oslo, Norway placed first, with a score of 74.8, which means that Oslo is 74.8% of the way to realizing the SDGs, based on the measures used in the Index. Stockholm, Sweden placed second with a score of 74.2, followed by Helsinki, Finland (71.3), Copenhagen, Denmark (68.7) and Zurich, Switzerland (67.5). The five lowest-performing cities are Bucharest, Hungary (54.4), Valletta, Malta (53.8), Nicosia, Cyprus (53.7), Porto, Portugal (53.5) and Athens, Greece (48.6).

European cities perform better on SDGs 2 and 3 than US cities, due to healthier lifestyles.

European cities performed best on SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure). In addition, European cities perform better on SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 3 than US cities, which the report attributes to “healthier lifestyles that help prevent excessive weight gain” and chronic and preventable diseases.

Cities in Europe performed the worst on SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 15 (life on land). Reporting that all European cities perform poorly on SDG 13, the author emphasize the need for further action to achieve zero net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030. The report states that poor performance on SDG 12 is a result of low shares of ground and surface water with good chemical status. Poor performance on SDG 15 is partially explained by a lack of green spaces and high percentage of soil sealing in European cities. In addition, most European cities face challenges in reducing air pollution. Another challenge in most European cities is access to affordable and quality housing (SDG target 11.1).

The report highlights challenges in data availability, quality and comparability at the sub-national level. The report states that the European Commission (EC) has defined territorial levels and metropolitan areas and standardized subnational data and indicators, through the EC’s Joint Research Centre and Eurostat, but it stresses that “major gaps remain to monitor all SDGs.” In particular, the report cites challenges in measuring income and wealth inequalities and disparities in access to services, hindering the ability to measure the “leave no one behind” component of the 2030 Agenda. [SDSN Press Release] [Publication: European Cities SDG Index]

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