Just eight years left for Belgium to achieve development goals

Just eight years left for Belgium to achieve development goals
Credit: Belga / Eric Lalmand

The Federal Government's Sustainable Development Plan is not providing the trend break needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, concluded the latest report by the Federal Planning Bureau (FPB).

For the first time, the report also compared Belgium's position with other EU countries while analysing the important differences between women and men in achieving the SDGs, with the aim of leaving no one behind.

In 2021, after 13 years of waiting, the federal government adopted a new Federal Plan for Sustainable Development for the period 2021-2025, which contains 239 measures to achieve the SDGs adopted by the United Nations by 2030.

Although Belgium has been making steady progress towards the SDGs, the Federal Planning Bureau concluded that it is not enough and that the 2021 development plan is not ambitious enough to reach the targets by 2030.

This echoed previous statements made by the bureau concerning Belgium's need for more effort regarding the SDGs. The plan contains few binding measures and these often have no direct impact on achieving the goals, according to the planning bureau.

Belgium vs EU

Of the 62 indicators with EU comparison, Belgium performs better than the EU average in 32 cases and worse than the average in 27 cases. No EU average is available for 3 indicators.

Using 60 of the indicators, Belgium was compared with the European Union. Belgium is among the best-performing countries in 22 cases, such as for protected sea surface or long-term health problems.

In 23 cases, including for insufficient literacy and exposure to fine dust, Belgium scores average. Finally, Belgium ranks among the worst-performing countries in 15 cases, such as greenhouse gas emissions and employment rate.

No one left behind

The report noted differences between women and men, while both genders need to achieve the SDGs. Women are currently more likely to live in inadequate or unheated housing and be disabled for long periods of time. Men smoke more, leave school earlier and there are more young men who do not work and are not in education or training either.

There are also indicators where both women and men are moving towards the SDGs, such as the rising life expectancy and falling suicide mortality. But for those two indicators, men's results are still worse than those of women.

According to Patricia Delbaere, sustainable development expert at the Federal Planning Bureau, "there are several areas where governments at all levels should consider specific policies so that both women and men achieve the SDGs. That way, we leave no one behind".

The website indicators.be has an overview of the 82 indicators on the SDGs.

Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set up by the United Nations General Assembly to be reached by 2030. The SDGs consist of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a "shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future".

The goals are: No poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, Reduced Inequality, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life Below Water, Life On Land, Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, Partnerships for the Goals.

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