Frequently asked questions on SDGs

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, is a universal call to action to end poverty, to protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. The UN SDGs represent a historic opportunity to make real change, as the world urgently needs to find a more sustainable path.


The SDGs build upon and replace the “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs), which started at the beginning of the 21st century a global effort which did not only fight against hunger and poverty, but also focused on gender equality and human rights for all.


The SDGs include all three aspects of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social – in the context of people, partnership, peace, prosperity and the planet. The large variety of topics that the Sustainable Development Goals cover displays the different socio-economic and environmental issues each nation faces.

The 2030 Agenda sets out the vision for sustainable development in the coming decade. It tackles all sectors and addresses the three pillars of sustainable development, by covering all environmental, economic and social determinants. This is put in place through targets, goals and indicators for review and follow up, applicable to all countries. Altogether, the 17 SDGs have a total of 169 targets. Those targets, which are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, are based on the acknowledgement that creating inclusive economic growth, eradicating inequality and poverty, and preserving our planet are not only linked to one another but also to population health, and that it is important to achieve them all by 2030. Achieving the SDGs therefore requires work across different sectors: the 2030 Agenda focuses on monitoring, evaluation and accountability to achieve its goals.


Progress towards the SDGs is measured through a variety of indicators, such as age, race, income, or geographic location. Each country can review and follow up on the processes on a voluntary basis. Each country’s development programmes and policies will therefore influence the successful implementation of the SDGs. The data for this measurement come from a variety of sources such as statistical reports, surveys, and reporting, data and surveillance systems. These national reviews then become a basis for the regional and global reviews: the combination of resources at domestic and international level is critical to achieve the SDGs. The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development oversees the review and follow up processes on a global level, with the support of the United Nationals Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

CEN and CENELEC are committed to leveraging the power of European standards to address global challenges. As two of the three officially recognised European Standardization Organisations, and thanks to the work of more than 90.000 experts active in 14 different industrial sectors, CEN and CENELEC develop European Standards that contribute to the three pillars of economic, environmental, and societal sustainability and provide long-term solutions to achieve the SDGs. However, until now, there was no easy way to demonstrate whether a specific Standard was addressing one or several UN SDG(s).


To address this gap, CEN and CENELEC have started a project to introduce a more systematic approach for the identification of relevant SDG(s) supported by standards from the start of new standardization work.


The long-term objective of this project is to develop a more strategic approach to SDGs, embedding them across all standardization work and exploring new potential forms of collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, thus maximizing the contribution standards can provide to sustainable development.

CEN and CENELEC have started mapping the standards that make the most significant contribution to the SDGs in the European context (building on the work at the international level already done by ISO and IEC). This has been envisioned as a tool to raise awareness among the European standardization community on SDGs and on the value of European Standards in support of the EU strategy to build resilience, as we embark on the twin green and digital transitions. On the long term, this interactive mapping aims to reinforce, but also to move beyond, the more obvious links between the SDG and standards to explore new opportunities and strengthen synergies between stakeholders.


With the mapping, you can explore each SDG individually to see which standards contribute to each of the SDGs. With the filter functionality, you can quickly search for individual standards, which CEN and CENELEC Technical Committees developed them, and find out more on their work. This mapping tool should be considered a living document. The list will continue to grow and evolve as new projects and fields of work are added. This will also be enriched in the future with examples of concrete projects and news on the new activities and stories webpage.



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