European indicators of sustainable development

European indicators of sustainable development

The Sustainable Development Strategy of the European Union, in its review of 2006, establishes a single, coherent strategy on how to face, at European level, the challenges of sustainable development.

The Strategy provides a measurement of progress towards sustainable development, by using a set of indicators, with an appropriate level of detail to allow the correct assessment of the situation in which every challenge is raised. The first set of indicators was approved by the Commission in 2005 and revised in 2007 to adapt to the recent revision of the Strategy.

The list of European indicators of sustainable development is divided into ten main themes that reflect the seven challenges of the Strategy, the objectives of economic prosperity and the main directives relating to good governance.

  • Socioeconomic development
  • Climate change and energy
  • Sustainable Transport
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Natural resources
  • Public health
  • Social Inclusion
  • Demographic changes
  • Global Partnership
  • Good governance

Among the 100+ indicators that currently make up the list, eleven of them are considered "leading indicators", as their calculation provides an overview of the progress of the European Union towards sustainable development in terms of achieving the objectives and goals defined in the Strategy.

The eleven leading indicators are:

  • Growth of GDP per capita
  • Emissions of greenhouse gases
  • Renewable energy consumption
  • Power consumption of transportation relative to GDP
  • Resource productivity
  • Abundance of common birds
  • Conservation of fish stocks
  • Years of healthy life
  • Risk of poverty
  • Employment rate of older workers
  • Official development aid

These eleven indicators, which are distributed among the main issues are a first basic level of information on fundamental challenges, and around them are the other indicators in two successive levels structure: they represent priority objectives, related operational targets and concrete actions. These three levels are complemented with contextual indicators, which provide cross-sectional information, but not directly assess Strategy objectives.

The European set of sustainable development indicators, is used for the preparation of the monitoring report of the Sustainable Development Strategy of the European Union, report published every two years through the European statistics office Eurostat.

The Eurostat monitoring reports represent an objective statistical framework of progress on sustainable development, based on European indicators of sustainability. Quantitative rules applied consistently for the calculation of the indicators, and intuitive visualization of results, to assess objectively whether the EU is moving in the right direction and fast enough to achieve the objectives and goals defined in the Strategy for Sustainable Development.

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