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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 27 February 2013

EU to take leading role in global fight against poverty and strive for sustainable development

As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) come to an end in 2015 and the Rio+20 conference launched the process for the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the European Commission acknowledges that both challenges must be tackled together through a joined up approach.

The MDGs have been a powerful tool to mobilise the world around the fight against poverty. Today, tackling poverty remains a top priority as well as other global challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity, environmental degradation and social inequalities. The two challenges of eradicating poverty and ensuring a sustainable development are interlinked and the Communication "A Decent Life for All: Ending Poverty and Giving the World a Sustainable Future", presented today by the European Commission, proposes a global framework to address both issues, with a view to achieve an EU common position to feed the debate at the UN and worldwide.

European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, said: "Eradicating extreme poverty across the globe in a single generation is within reach. It is not a question of resources, but rather of having the political will and the right framework. The next two years will be critical for the international community to prove the ambition is there. The EU is determined to play a decisive role and today’s proposal is a first step in this direction."

European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik said: "Efforts to end poverty have to go hand-in-hand with sustainable development. Otherwise we will simply not be successful. This is why today's Communication proposes a single, coherent framework to offer a decent life for all by 2030."

The framework should include a limited set of goals, clear and inspiring, addressing not only quantitative targets, but also qualitative ones such as standards in education, nutrition, access to clean water and air. These goals should establish a floor under which no man, woman or child should fall by 2030, in order to provide a Decent Life for All. The framework should address crucial elements such as the basic human living standards, the drivers for an inclusive and sustainable growth, the sustainable management of natural resources, the issues of equity, equality and justice, and peace and security. It should apply to all countries, and be relevant to every citizen on the planet, and should ensure an effective partnership between countries, the civil society and the private sector at national and international level.


Over the last decade, the Millennium Development Goals have been a powerful tool to mobilise the world around the fight against poverty. Although some progress towards achieving them has been made, challenges remain, highlighting the need to deliver on the unfinished business of the current MDG agenda, ending in 2015. In 2012, the UN secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has appointed a High Level Panel – in which Commissioner Piebalgs serves- to propose a post-2015 development agenda. In autumn 2013, a UN General Assembly special event will take stock of the efforts made towards achieving the MDGs, discuss ways to accelerate progress before 2015, and start exchanging on what could follow after that date.

At the same time, at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012, the international community agreed to step up action on key sustainability challenges and started the process for the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be taken forward by the UN Open Working Group on SDGs. The commitments made at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012 now need to be implemented. A report on Sustainable Development Goals is due to be presented to the UN General Assembly by September 2014, and today's Communication will feed into the EU position on how these should be formulated.

The Communication adopted today calls for these two processes to converge as soon as possible and be integrated into a single framework after 2015.

The Communication is the result of a broad consultation process with Member States, stakeholders and the general public.

The EU is the world’s largest aid donor, providing more than half of all development aid. The EU is also the most significant trading partner for developing countries, as well as a key source of technology, innovation, investment and entrepreneurship. Together, these elements have meant that the EU has been able to make a significant contribution to the achievement of the MDGs. For instance, between 2004 and 2010 EU aid provided 32 million people with access to drinking water, enrolled more than 10 million children in primary education and helped to immunise more than 5 million children against measles.

The EU will continue to strive for global sustainable development, and support the transition to an inclusive green economy- notably through a range of policies and actions both at union level and internationally.

For more information

Full text of the Communication:

MEMO/13/143: Communication 'A decent Life for All: Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future'

Websites for Commissioners for Development and Environment:

Website of DG Development and Cooperation:

Websites of DG Environment:

Contacts :

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

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