This year's report includes a special chapter regarding the impact of COVID-19 on progress towards the SDGs.
Sustainable development objectives have been at the heart of European policy-making for a long time, firmly anchored in the European Treaties (1 ) and mainstreamed in key projects, sectoral policies and initiatives. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations (UN) in September 2015, have given a new impetus to global efforts for achieving sustainable development. The EU has fully committed itself to delivering on the 2030 Agenda and its implementation, as outlined in ‘The European Green Deal’ (2 ) and the staff working document (SWD) ‘Delivering on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals — A comprehensive approach’ (3 ). The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of life, both in the EU and globally. The impacts of the pandemic itself and of the contingency measures taken by countries in response to it are increasingly becoming visible, for example through Eurostat’s European Statistical Recovery Dashboard. The COVID-19 crisis has not only underlined the interconnectedness of the social, economic and environmental spheres, but has also highlighted the importance of achieving the SDGs. Progress towards the SDGs in the EU had already been uneven before COVID-19, with some areas requiring more focused attention and action. The pandemic has made achieving the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs even more challenging, both for the EU and globally (4 ). This publication, entitled ‘Sustainable development in the European Union — Monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context (2021 edition)’, is the fifth in a series of annual monitoring exercises launched by Eurostat in 2017. It is based on the EU SDG indicator set that was developed to monitor progress towards the SDGs in an EU context.