In September 2015, in the context of the 20th General Assembly of the United Nations the "Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development" was adopted, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related sub-targets, giving a new dimension to global efforts towards sustainable development. All developed and developing countries are jointly responsible for the achievement of the SDGs. Agenda 2030 integrates in a balanced way the three dimensions of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental - and reflects for the first time the existence of an international consensus and a common pursuit of the objectives of peace, security, justice for all and social inclusion, which are mutually reinforcing in Agenda 2030.
As part of the Agenda 2030 monitoring mechanism, Member States are encouraged to "conduct regular and comprehensive reviews of progress at national and sub-national level". These voluntary national revisions (VNRs) aim to facilitate the exchange of experiences, including the successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to speeding up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Cyprus has already prepared and submitted in 2017 the First Voluntary Progress Report on the Implementation of Agenda 2030 . Coordination for the preparation of the first report was undertaken the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the contribution of both the public and the private sector, including non-governmental organizations. In this Report selected SDGs are presented as a priority for Cyprus based on the analysis of the current situation and its needs and capabilities of the country compared to the 17 SDGs. Also, the actions planned and promoted to achieve these priorities, the progress achieved, the related challenges, as well as the next steps are presented. It is noteworthy that progress has been made on all SDGs, while for most of them there are planned actions. Indeed, in some SDGS progress is at 100%.
The relevant challenges that have been observed for Cyprus under the 2017 report are the high public debt, the relatively high level of unemployment, the low participation of the agricultural sector in GDP, the energy dependency of the country on imported sources, low participation of women in public and political life, the need for a sustainable consumption policy, the high rate of non-achievement in the field of mathematics, science and reading and the need to increase the official development assistance.
The EU in its Communication “Next Steps for a Sustainable European Future - A European Action for Sustainability” of the 22th of November 2016 has fully committed to leading the implementation of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs together with its Member States and in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. The EU response to Agenda 2030 includes two pillars. The first pillar is the full integration of SDGs into the European policy framework and the Commission's current priorities and the second pillar in launching studies to further develop the long-term vision and orientation of sectoral policies beyond 2020 as part of preparation for the long- implementation of SDGs. The new multiannual financial framework beyond 2020 will also redirect contributions from the EU budget towards the EU's long-term objectives.
In addition, the EU Communication provides for regular monitoring of the progress of the SBGs at European level. The first effort was made with the document "Sustainable development in the European Union - Monitoring report on progress towards SDGs in an EU context " (2017), which concluded that progress was made at European level in all SDGs. In 2018 the second edition was published entitled "Sustainable Development in the European Union - Monitoring Report on Progress towards SDGs in an EU context", which highlights significant progress on Goal 3 (“Good Health & Well-being”, Goal 4 (“Quality Education”) and Goal 7 (“Affordable and Clean Energy”), as well as moderate progress for eight additional goals. Moreover, the Report underscores a worrying shift away from a sustainable development trajectory for Goal 10 (“Reduced inequalities”), owing to the ongoing rise of income inequality within EU member states.
DG EPCD, based on the Decision of the Council of Ministers no. 85,050, dated 30.5.2018, is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the commitments of Cyprus with regard to the United Nations Strategic Objectives of Sustainable Development 2030. In this context, it participates in the relevant Working Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and contributes to the preparation of the relevant participation of the Republic of Cyprus at the United Nations summit.
In July 2019, the UN High-level Annual Policy Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2019) will be held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). In addition, a two-day meeting of Heads of State and Government, held under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly, will be held in September 2019, where the first Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) will be presented (it is presented every four years) and will contain the guidelines for achieving the 17 SDGs in order to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2030.