Tuesday, 18 August 2020
Greece’s first National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD) was adopted in 2002 by the Council of Ministers, just before the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development, with a strong environmental focus.
The second NSSD prepared in 2007 was aligned with the Renewed 2006 EU Strategy for Sustainable Development, but included four additional priorities of national importance (culture, tourism, agriculture and spatial planning).
In 2009 when “the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change” (MEECC) was first established, the country’s priorities throughout the whole Government structure have been set under the overarching objective of “Green Growth” as a response to the onset of the financial crisis and the need for more emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation. To this end, a “Programme of Development Interventions for the Real Economy” was elaborated in 2010, aligned with the EU Europe 2020 Strategy, with a focus on resource efficiency and the shift to a low carbon economy, which served, until 2013, as the country’s strategic reference for sustainable development, but not as an NSSD.
In 2015, the adoption of the SDGs brought a new vision to the country’s development perspectives that has gone through a profound economic crisis during the last decade: the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs provide an ambitious and transformative framework for a new, fair and sustainable development path, which ensures a balance between economic growth, social cohesion and justice as well as protection of the environment and of the country’s unique ecological wealth. Ensuring that “no one is left behind” has been a high political priority for Greece during as well as in the post-crisis era.
In May 2018, Greece adopted a National Growth Strategy, consequently updated in May 2019 as the “National Strategy for Sustainable and Fair Growth 2030” fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development objectives. The 2019 NSSFG included inter alia 40 key performance indicators, mostly relating to SDG implementation at national level.
A “National Implementation Plan for the SDGs” is expected to be elaborated and endorsed in the near future by the government of Greece elected pursuant to the July 2019 national elections, that will be coherent with a new revised Growth Strategy and its future updates.
After the national elections of July 2019, the Law on the Executive State (Law 4622/2019) passed by the new Government in Greece, brought several changes to the organisational modalities for coordinating SDGs’ implementation at the national level:
- The former General Secretariat of the Government – GSG, responsible for the Interministerial coordination for the SDGs implementation has been merged under the new main centre-of-government entity, the Presidency of the Governmentformed by Law 4622/2019.
- The core mandate and mission of the Presidency of the Government is to plan, coordinate, ensure coherence, monitor and evaluate the overall Government work, including public policies and legislation on sustainable development, which an important element for Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
- However, the Interministerial Network that was operating under the coordination of the former General Secretariat of the Government for promoting SDGs’ implementation in line Ministries has not been yet formally re-launched since July 2019.
The Presidency of the Government is composed by 5 General and Special Secretariats inter alia:
- The Secretariat Special of the Integrated Information Systemfor Monitoring and Evaluation of the Government’s Programme (SSMEG): currently responsible for coordinating efforts for SDGs implementation at the national level,
- The Secretariat General for Coordination (SGCO): responsible to oversee the work of the various line Ministries which are involved in the implementation of the various SDGs under their competencies,
- The Secretariat General for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (SGLPA): responsible to ensure the coherence and coordination of the legislative work and of the effective implementation of the tools for Better Regulation, an important element for SDGs implementation, especially SDGs 16 and 17.Until now, the Secretariat Special for the Monitoring and Evaluation of the Government’s Programme (SSMEGP), has initiated and is carrying-out two projects contributing to the implementation of the SDGs in Greece, on :
- thedevelopment of a multi-stakeholder platform on the implementation of SDGs: an on-line Workshop with the participation of international experts has been organised on the 4th of February 2021 to gather international experiences and expertise on how to set up a related platform at the national level in Greece.
- the development of methodology and tools on how to monitor quantitative data on the SDGs at the national level: an on-line Workshop was organised on the 27th of April 2021 under the title “Building capacities for adapting and measuring international SDG indicators at the national level”. The Workshop focused on SDG indicators 17.14.1, 4.7.1 and 12.8.1 as well as 12.3.1 (a) for which international experts from the related Custodian Agencies, i.e. UNEP, FAO and UNESCO presented the methodology and data production and collection processes suggested to measure them. They also presented national experiences and successful practices by other UN member states that have advanced on the monitoring of these indicators and, finally, presented recommendations towards the Greek responsible entities on how to practically achieve progress in measuring these cross-cutting indicators. Lessons taken away from this Workshop might lead to changes in the national set of SDG indicators adopted two years ago.
Regarding the promotion of tools for Βetter Ρegulation, a key tool to achieve PCSD as enshrined by the SDGs, is the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), which is obligatory for all primary laws in Greece (to ensure the ex ante evaluation of legislation), as well as for subordinate regulations of major social or economic importance. RIA has been enriched to include inter alia a special section assessing which of the 17 SDGs are pursued by the proposed regulation. In this way, all draft bills have an explicit reference to the SDGs. The Secretariat General for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (SGLPA) of the Presidency of the Government, which is responsible to ensure the coherence and coordination of the legislative work and of the effective implementation of the tools for Better Regulation, is in cooperation with the Hellenic Parliament on this matter.
The “National Strategy for Sustainable and Fair Growth 2030” adopted in May 2019 by the previous government of Greece, covered the three dimensions of sustainable development – the economic, environmental and social – and was aligned to the principles of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, including social cohesion and ’leaving no one behind’.
Protection and sustainable management of natural capital and transition to a low-carbon economy had been one of the eight overarching National Priorities for implementing the SDGs at national level that Greece endorsed in 2017 after an extensive mapping exercise within all government units and a public consultation. These eight National Priorities had been the basis for the preparation of the country’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR) presented at the 2018 UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. Over the period 2017-2019, the (former) General Secretariat of the Government (GSG) played a key role in ensuring a whole-of-government approach to implementing SDGs. An Inter‑ministerial Co‑ordination Network for the SDGs coordinated by the former GSG, up until 2019, brings together focal points of all line ministries responsible for mainstreaming SDG-related issues into sectoral legislation, policies and programmes.