Last updated on:
Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Greece places particular emphasis on achieving sustainable development and is strongly committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs, as they provide an ambitious, visionary and transformative framework for a new, equitable and sustainable development path. Ensuring that “no one is left behind” is a high political priority for Greece, as the country has recently existed a period of prolonged economic crisis.

In July 2018, Greece presented its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the 2018 UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable development (HLPF). This VNR report covers all 17 SDGs through eight National Priorities for adapting the SDGs to national needs and circumstances. These eight overarching National Priorities have been defined through an open dialogue within all government units and with a wide array of stakeholders, and by an in-depth mapping exercise carried out in 2017.

Apart from the full VNR report, additional information on the Greek presentation at the HLPF is available here.

Following the national elections of July 2019, the task of monitoring and coordinating national implementation of the SDGs has equally been assigned to a key centre-of government entity, i.e. the Presidency of the Hellenic Government (the entity that now incorporates the former General Secretariat of the Government), in order to ensure policy coherence.  

Following the compilation of the country’s first VNR comprehensive report in 2018, a process that will lead to the elaboration of a “National Implementation Plan for the SDGs” is expected to be soon launched by the Greek government. This first National Implementation Plan for the SDGs is expected to have a 4year duration, be aligned with the provisions of the updated National Growth Strategy of the current Greek government and will aim to promote cross-sectoral approaches and actions among line Ministries.

At a broader level, the first “National Implementation Plan for the SDGs” will aim to foster the adoption of an integrated approach to the planning and implementation of the SDGs at different governance levels and across policy sectors promoting policy coherence for sustainable development. In particular, it will focus, inter alia, on further elaborating the national priorities on the SDGs embedded in the country’s first VNR, revisiting existing thematic legislation, strategies and policies building on them, and making them more “SDG aware” by improving their coherence. Moreover, it will aim to further operationalise activities on key cross-cutting priorities for the country (e.g. circular economy, social and solidarity economy, research and innovation, adaptation to climate change impacts, migration, water-food-energy nexus, education for sustainable development, nutrition-youth-health nexus etc) to be pursued through new horizontal cross-sectoral integration tools and arrangements that will produce a special added value for the process of implementing the SDGs in Greece. In parallel, the “National Implementation Plan for the SDGs” will seek to explore and promote selected key good practices, activities, policies and legislation which are mutually supportive of and interlinking more than one thematic SDGs. Another important aspect to be included in the “National Implementation Plan for the SDGs” is the local/regional dimension of the SDGs in Greece.

The “National Implementation Plan for the SDGs” will also aim to strengthen the science-policy interface as it is expected to include a list of national indicators for the quantitative monitoring of progress for implementing the SDGs at country level. These indicators are selected from the global SDGs indicator framework, from EUROSTAT as well as from other national indicators’ sets, will be aligned to national priorities and circumstances, and will take into account regular reporting obligations of national entities and Ministries.

Finally, in the next phase of SDGs implementation, emphasis will be given to strengthening social dialogue as well as to the involvement of the Hellenic Parliament in terms of follow up of the implementation of the SDGs in Greece, by providing reviews and political guidance with the overall aim to enhance policy coherence for sustainable development and integrate the SDGs further in legislative work.

SDGs 7 and 13

Greece has adopted its National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) in 2019, setting a very ambitious national goal of 56% GHG emissions reduction by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, which demonstrates our commitment to contribute to the EU effort for climate neutrality by 2050. Moreover, in the light of the climate policy developments in the EU (i.e. new climate target for at least 55% reduction of GHG emissions and European Climate Law), Greece is currently in the process of formulating a national climate law, through public consultation, that will define concrete and updated national climate objectives. In this context, Greece also aims to revise its NECP and fully align it with the increase in of the European climate target for at least 55% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Already, Greece has embarked on a very ambitious front-loaded effort to fully de-lignitise its energy mix by 2028, with all but one existing lignite power plants expected to be decommissioned by 2023.

SDGs 12 and 14

Greece has adopted a National Strategy for Circular Economy since December 2018. Based on this, and taking into account recent developments at the EU level in 2019 and 2020 (e.g. the EU Green Deal and the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan), Greece finalized the elaboration of its new National Circular Economy Action Planin March 2021.

This new Action Plan includes a series of concrete actions to be implemented over the period 2021 – 2025 through increased cross-sectoral arrangements, and is building on recent national legislation, like Law 4736/2020 for incorporating EU Directive 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (the SUP Directive), the new National Plan for Waste Management as well as the new national Green Public Procurement National Plan. The opinion of the National Council for Circular Economy (a board of involved national professional producers’ associations) and of the Interministerial Committee for Circular Economy have been taken into account in drafting the new National Circular Economy Action Plan, ensuring a whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach.

The Plan includes an analysis of the key entities in charge for the implementation of each one of the actions foreseen; it encompasses production, consumption, waste management as well as horizontal issues related to governance and administration; it focuses on products and services with a high circularity potential such as electronics and ICT, batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction and buildings, food waste, and water use. The Plan is also coupled with an operational part where provisions for the monitoring of its implementation are analysed as well as with a presentation of the matching funding sources for its timely delivery. 

With regard to plastic pollution, as above mentioned, Greece has incorporated in its national legislation the EU SUP Directive (Directive 2019/904) with Law 4736/2020, in October 2020, much earlier than the date of entry into force of the Directive (July 2021) due to the importance given to the reduction of plastic waste generated at source and the promotion of more sustainable and reusable materials. The Law is expected to have a considerable positive outcome on urgently addressing plastic marine litter that negatively impact on marine ecosystems and on important economic activities such as tourism and fishing. 

The Law is guided by the principles and objectives of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, having a direct contribution to the achievement of SDGs 12 and 14. Based on this Law, Greece is committed to promote more sustainable materials and to reduce the most environmentally damaging single use plastic products, in particular single-use plastic beverage and food containers, at least by 30% by 2024, and at least by 60% by 2026 compared, to 2022.

SDGs 15 and 14

A new entity, the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (NECCA)of Greece, has been established by Law 4685/2020 in September 2020: it is supervised by the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy (MoEE) and is responsible inter alia for coordinating and supervising the management bodies of the several protected areas of the country (that correspond to around 30% of land area and to around 20% of territorial waters of the country) for the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems through a multi-stakeholder consultative approach, ensuring a high and effective conservation.

Leading Ministry and respective unit

(former) General Secretariat of the Government (GSG) until 2019

Presidency of the Government after the July 2019 national elections  

Other ministries involved

Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy

Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

All line / thematic Ministries of the government

have been actively involved in the SDGs implementation in Greece and in particular for the elaboration of the country’s first VNR report in 2018.

Special burden falls on the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy as is thematically/technically responsible for the implementation of 7 out of the overall 17 SDGs (i.e. 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, partly 14 and 15) with past experience on the matter being the national Focal Point for the UNCSD for around 20 years (1992-2002).

In parallel, the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy, continues to be responsible for the external dimension of national efforts for the SDGs’ implementation.

Regarding the overall governance scheme for coordinating national efforts to implement the SDGs, in December 2016 the task has been allocated by Law to the former General Secretariat of the Government (GSG) now (following the July 2019 national elections) merged in the new center-of-government body of the Presidency of the Government , with emphasis on enhancing inter-ministerial coordination, given the fact that its stands close to the political leadership of the country, close to the public administration and all line Ministries as well as close to the Hellenic Parliament on legislative and regulatory issues. Thus, a whole-of-government approach has been achieved, aiming at reducing silos across thematic policies from the design to implementation, and increase coherence.

Under the coordination of the former General Secretariat of the Government (GSG), an Inter‑ministerial Co‑ordination Network for the SDGs bringing together focal points of all line Ministries has been established in December 2016 to oversee and steer national efforts for the implementation of the SDGs and in particular, as a first urgent initial step, to undertake the completion of a mapping / gap analysis exercise.

This mapping exercise has been completed by all Ministries in February 2017 in order to explore the existing and missing policy instruments for SDGs implementation in Greece. Ministries identified which goals and targets they are covering and by which policies and measures. The measures vary from national and EU legislation to sectoral or thematic strategies and action plans, as well as implementation of the international agreements and commitments. This exercise resulted in compiling all relevant policies and measures that are still missing, indicating the state-of-play and budgetary status, and analysing areas of insufficient action or potential for cross-sectoral co-operation. Moreover, all Ministries had to rank and prioritise all SDG targets under their competences according to their existing priorities and on-going work, from 0 (little emphasis / priority) to 3 (high priority target for Greece).  

This overall analysis and mapping that was followed by consultation with stakeholders (in Greek), resulted in defining eight overarching National Priorities for adapting the SDGs to national circumstances. These eight National Priorities endorsed in 2017, had been the basis for the preparation of the country’s first VNR report in 2018. They included:

  1. Promotion of a competitive, innovative and sustainable economic growth (SDGs 8,9)
  2. Promotion of full employment and decent work for all (SDGs 8,4),
  3. Addressing poverty and social exclusion and promote universal access to quality health care services (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 8, 10),
  4. Reduction of social and regional inequalities and ensuring equal opportunities for all (SDGs 10, 5, 4, 8, 1, 3, 11, 16),
  5. Promotion of a high quality and inclusive education for all (SDG 4),
  6. Strengthen the protection and sustainable management of the natural capital as a base for social development/prosperity  and  transition to a low-carbon economy (SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15),
  7. Building of effective, accountable and transparent institutions / institutional mechanisms (SDGs 16, 17),
  8. Strengthen and promote open, participatory and democratic processes (SDGs 16, 17).
Main contact point for the implementation process

Presidency of the Government,

Mr Nikos Trantas,  

Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy,

Directorate of International Relations and EU Affairs

Ms Maria Papaioannou

Ms Konstantina Rempestekou

Voluntary National Reviews

Greece presented its first VNR in July 2018 at the HLPF.

Greece submitted its second VNR in 2022.