SINGLE COUNTRY PROFILE
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.
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.
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.
(former) General Secretariat of the Government (GSG) until 2019
Presidency of the Government after the July 2019 national elections
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:
- Promotion of a competitive, innovative and sustainable economic growth (SDGs 8,9)
- Promotion of full employment and decent work for all (SDGs 8,4),
- Addressing poverty and social exclusion and promote universal access to quality health care services (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 8, 10),
- Reduction of social and regional inequalities and ensuring equal opportunities for all (SDGs 10, 5, 4, 8, 1, 3, 11, 16),
- Promotion of a high quality and inclusive education for all (SDG 4),
- 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),
- Building of effective, accountable and transparent institutions / institutional mechanisms (SDGs 16, 17),
- Strengthen and promote open, participatory and democratic processes (SDGs 16, 17).
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
See above links, and additionally:
Greece presented its first VNR in July 2018 at the HLPF.
As all the SDGs have targets directly related to the responsibilities of local and regional governments, particularly to their role in delivering basic services, their involvement is essential for the successful attainment of sustainable development. Thus, there is constant close cooperation between the national, regional and local levels for the integrated and coherent implementation of the 2030 Agenda related-policies and there are numerous important activities and initiatives that take place country-wide, related to many SDG Goals and targets.
In this context, the former General Secretariat of the Government (GSG) together with various line Ministries have encouraged and facilitated consultation with multiple stakeholders engaged in the SDGs implementation process, including regional and local authorities, through the organisation of bilateral and multilateral meetings, participation in workshops and roundtable conferences, etc, aiming to raise public awareness on the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda, promote the shared responsibility of all stakeholders and facilitate the sharing of experiences and lessons learned on the implementation of SDGs at a sub-national and local level.
Greece strongly supports the new EU Green Deal as an 'EU green development strategy' that is fully in line with the current government’s priorities: after a prolonged economic crisis, Greece aspires to become a paradigm for how a socially just transition to a circular, low-emission economy and climate action can create green jobs and economic growth building on the objectives and principles of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The work of the Presidency of the Government on coordinating the national implementation of the SDGs will be substantially supported and facilitated by the Inter-ministerial Coordination Network for the SDGs established in December 2016. This Inter-ministerial Coordination Network for SDGs brings together representatives from all line ministries, acting as focal points in charge of working on SDGs-related issues within their respective ministries and mainstreaming them in thematic legislation, policies and initiatives (see also above “National Implementation of 2030 Agenda for SD / Other Ministries involved”). It also comprises representatives from other governmental bodies belonging to the centre-of-government, and the Hellenic Statistical Authority.
The set-up of a robust long-term institutional mechanism encompassing a “whole-of-government” approach contributed to achieving better coordination between line Ministries, ensuring policy coherence “horizontally” across all policy sectors and enhancing Ministries shared commitment and responsibility in implementing the SDGs.
There are also several issue-specific co‑ordination and stakeholder consultation mechanisms at the national level, which include the National Climate Change Adaptation Committee, the Inter‑ministerial Committee on Energy and Climate, the Inter-ministerial Committee for the promotion of Electromobility, the National Council on Water, the Inter-ministerial Committee and the National Council on Circular Economy and the National Council for Spatial Planning. The abovementioned bodies comprise representatives from key Ministries, as well as other stakeholders such as regional and local governments’, social partners’ and NGOs’ representatives.
Moreover, in the Hellenic Parliament, there are a number of parliamentary committees that are responsible for elaborating and examining draft laws that fall within the various thematic areas of the SDGs, including poverty reduction, employment, healthcare and social protection, economic development, research and innovation, environmental protection and climate change. The draft laws are then debated and adopted in Plenary. Through this process, the Parliament contributes substantially to the comprehensive implementation of the SDGs framework and the promotion of the legislative and policy coherence for sustainable development.
The Hellenic Parliament is expected to play an instrumental role in the overall follow-up process of the SDGs implementation in Greece through joint parliamentary committees meetings to review progress, provide guidance to fine-tune line actions and ensure the mainstreaming of the SDGs in all legislative and policy frameworks with the overall aim to enhance further policy coherence for sustainable development.
In May 2019, the Inter-minsterial Coordination Network for the SDGs under the coordination of the former General Secretariat of the Government (GSG) and in consultation with the Hellenic Statistical Authority, endorsed a set of around 160 national indicators (around 90 of which selected from the global SDGs indicator framework and 70 from EUROSTAT, aligned to national priorities and circumstances and to the Ministries regular reporting obligations) for the quantitative monitoring of progress for implementing the SDGs.
This preliminary work will be further fine tuned and revised along the current policy priorities of the Greek government to better reflect needs for ensuring policy coherence between Ministries and the overall coordination and evaluation of the Government’s work, a task carried out by the Presidency of the Government.
In terms of participation and consultation, and since the implementation of the SDGs goes far beyond the responsibilities of the government, particular emphasis has been given to multiple stakeholders engagement (civil society and social partners, the private sector, academia and research community, regional and local authorities) in the SDGs implementation process and awareness raising on SDGs at all levels.
In particular, an open dialogue with some of the major national stakeholders has taken place through the platform provided by the Economic and Social Council of Greece (ESC), the constitutionally recognized institution for the conduct of social dialogue. ESC is working, following the model of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), on the basis of a tripartite structure representing the interests of three main groups: (i) one of employers-entrepreneurs; (ii) one of public and private sector employees; and (iii) one including other categories of interests groups such as farmers, self-employed people, professionals, consumers, environmental agencies, disabled people's confederation, gender equality and multi-child associations, and regional and local government. The ESC elaborates and delivers policy proposals and Opinions on a broad range of SDGs-related issues, including economic growth, employment and labour market, social inclusion, migration and refugee flow, sustainable agriculture, business environment, and democratisation of governance. Within this context, the ESC issued in 2017 an Opinion regarding the UN 2030 Agenda and the priority objectives for Greece. In this Opinion, the ESC presented its views on the national prioritisation of the SDGs and submitted a comprehensive set of proposals regarding the effective implementation of key economic, social and environmental aspects of the SDGs at different levels and sectors (i.e. economic growth, employment and social protection, sustainable energy, industrialisation and innovation).
The ESC, local and regional authorities, academia and research institutes, the private sector, and civil society organisations have substantively contributed in 2018 to the drafting of the first VNR report of Greece, by providing information on the challenges faced in each thematic priority, the main priorities, activities and policies developed as well as good practice examples to meet these challenges.
At a broader level, regarding public participation and consultation on draft legislation and government policy initiatives, the general public, institutions and various stakeholders can access and submit comments on new legislative proposals, prior to their submission to the Parliament, through the government portal for public consultation.
A series of high-level multi-stakeholder Events have been organised to raise awareness on the SDGs and provide a space for multi-stakeholder interaction. The Events were organised either by the private sector (e.g. Conference of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises on the SDGs on 2 March 2017) or in the form of international Economic Fora (i.e. the Concordia Economic Summit organized in Athens, on 5-6 June 2017) where Government representatives participated to provide their views on how the country should adopt and adapt the SDGs to national circumstances, or they were organised by Ministries, like the Conference organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the General Secretariat of the Government on how to address “Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development” (Athens, 7 March 2017) as well as the Dialogue organized by the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy / National Center for Environment and Sustainable Development with environmental NGOs on the environmental dimension of the SDGs (Athens, 15 March 2017) that produced very fruitful results regarding the national prioritization process.
With regard to youth in particular, several Events and Workshops have taken place with Academia and the involvement of the Synod of Rectors in Universities for the awareness raising of the student and academic community with the most recent Event particularly focusing on “Promoting Opportunities for Youth Engagement for the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals” organized by the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Athens, 27 November 2019).
Stakeholders’ engagement in the SDGs implementation process is expected to be further enhanced through involvement in the elaboration and implementation of the National Implementation Plan for the SDGs.
Several initiatives aim to raise awareness and citizen participation for the SDGs at local level. For example, a weekly radio programme on the municipal radio station of Athens, organized in cooperation with the UN, was dedicated entirely to the SDGs (in 2018-2019), presenting and analyzing each one of the SDGs to the general public, each week. Another example is the promotion of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) in large Greek cities. The participation of municipalities implementing sustainable urban mobility interventions in the European Mobility Week, in terms of awareness raising, has increased remarkably over the past years, growing from 8 municipalities in 2013 to 86 in 2019, with many of them also ranking in the list of the 10 finalist European cities to receive a Sustainable Urban Mobility Award. In this context, the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy introduced in 2015 the “Greek Award for the European Mobility Week”, under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic. The award is given to the 10 best Greek municipalities participating in the European Mobility Week campaign, based on their achievements and commitment to the campaign goals.