On 22 November 2016 the European Commission released a series of Communications on measures to take to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by the worlds’ nations in 2015 (FW 220). In them however, the Commission seems to sidestep complex issues.
SDG Watch Europe, a coalition of more than 90 NGOs, including Fern, is disappointed with the overarching communication defining the EU’s next steps for a sustainable European future. The Commission promises to mainstream the SDGs in all its work, and set up a multi-stakeholder platform in order to develop a long-term vision and sectoral policies after 2020. Yet, the Communication offers few clues about how the EU intends to make the aspirations in the SDGs a reality; it fails to present a clear roadmap.
The protection of forests and the 1.6 billion people depending on them is undoubtedly necessary to achieve the SDGs. Yet specific references to forests and deforestation are rare, not only in the overall SDG communication but also in the Communication proposing a new Consensus for Development. No explicit support is expressed for the FLEGT Action Plan, the EU’s flagship instrument to combat illegal logging, although it has contributed to reducing illegalities and improve governance and is, often mentioned as a good example of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD).
On a positive note, the Communications create an opening for innovative and long-term initiatives, such as an EU action plan for deforestation. Fern outlines its views in Focus on Forests, and hopes that the final text of the New Consensus on Development, a key tool to implement the SDGs to be adopted in May 2017, will take a bolder stance on forest issues. We count on the European Parliament to formulate the upcoming report on the New Consensus with this in mind.