A look back at 2023: A year of Policy Advocacy for SDSN Europe


2023 has marked a significant milestone for SDSN Europe as a leading force in the realm of policy advocacy. The year was highlighted by two pivotal achievements: SDSN Europe’s support to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in delivering an exploratory opinion to the Spanish Presidency, and the collaborative workshop with EESC on elevating EU’s SDG Leadership.

Upon the invitation of the Spanish presidency of the EU Council, SDSN Europe supported the EESC in delivering an exploratory opinion: EU and Agenda 2030: strengthening the implementation of the SDGs. Formally adopted on 25 October 2023, the opinion was instrumental in underscoring the necessity for an integrated and comprehensive strategy for the SDGs.

In this exploratory opinion, the EESC:

  • reiterates that, despite the fact that the Commission considers the SDGs a key part of the political guidelines, the EU needs an integrated, comprehensive strategy with ambitious long-term goals and plans, in order to accelerate progress on the SDGs at the European and global level. Instead of addressing the goals separately, the EU should adopt a holistic approach to reduce the complexity of its policies and instruments for sustainable development;
  • emphasizes that the Commission needs to make a long-term political commitment, which has to go beyond this term of office. The Commission must commit to involving stakeholders at an early stage in designing and setting the agenda, to ensuring that the other institutions are represented, and to providing appropriate resources to ensure meaningful and inclusive participation of civil society organizations. The SDGs have to be a long-term commitment even beyond 2030;
  • stresses the need to engage civil society, the public and private sectors, academia, and youth and women’s organizations in the implementation of the SDGs. Given the recent positive outcome of the EESC as a facilitator in reflecting the view of civil society organizations in the EU Voluntary Review, the EESC urges the Commission to build a convening space for regular and structured civil society dialogue with the participation of companies, trade unions and civil society organizations that work on the ground;
  • believes that other key enablers in accelerating SGD implementation are societal acceptance by proportionately sharing the costs and benefits of the transition, a proactive communication strategy against the anti-2030 agenda, further investments and alignment of the SDGs with the European Semester, multilateralism and building a strong SDG/Green Deal Diplomacy. The cost of the transition should not be unbearable for companies, workers or the rest of society.


Earlier in 2023, SDSN and SDSN Europe, in collaboration with EESC, held a joint workshop on Strengthening the EU’s Leadership on the SDGs, which encompassed several themes and objectives that were later articulated in the exploratory opinion. The workshop, which took place in April 2023, ahead of the first-ever European Voluntary Review prepared by the Commission, was held in a hybrid format. The event brought over 600 participants, including panelists from the European Parliament, European Commission, Council presidencies (Swedish and Spanish), civil society organizations, scientific institutions, and international organizations.

Participants discussed major priorities for accelerating SDG progress in the EU and around the world and exchanged views on how to strengthen structured engagement with civil society over the next seven years. In preparation for the 2023 UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) and the EU’s first voluntary review, the workshop also showcased systemic solutions developed by knowledge institutions in major European projects and delved into European SDG diplomacy and ways to curb negative international spillovers.

Through strategic policy advocacy and the impactful joint workshop, SDSN Europe has cultivated a collaborative environment for sustainable development. These endeavors not only demonstrate our commitment to fostering inclusive and sustainable growth, but also set the stage for our continued role in driving forward the Agenda 2030 in Europe in 2024 and beyond.

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