By Nicole K. Phinopoulou
On July 21, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides addressed an online conference and presented the long-term strategy for sustainable economic growth (Cyprus 2035 “Vision”), embracing the scope of the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Plan.
Correctly noted by the Finance Minister, “Vision” should be embraced by the community as a whole; it is a collective effort.
“We need to continue implementing Vision 2035, which is the vision of the society and economy for the years to come.
“Recession will not be smaller if we don’t proceed with a change of the model utilised so far and without placing emphasis in new sectors of the economy (e.g., education and digital transformation).”
The EU has long prioritised Sustainable Development as its main priority (since 2015/16).
Having gone through a very difficult period that included tackling the coronavirus pandemic, implementing Brexit, managing migration flows, poverty and social restless reshuffle evidenced due to earlier financial crisis (2007), the EU is now focusing its efforts on rapid and targeted recovery from the recession, with emphasis on implementing its Action Plan on Sustainable Development.
There are many aspects and parameters that need to be considered and implemented for both the EU and its member states to achieve the holistic goal of strong growth today without undermining future generations.
To this end, the EU aims to ensure coherence between industrial, environmental, climate and energy policy to create an optimal business environment that promotes sustainable growth, job creation and innovation.
The commitment of the EU and its member states to sustainable development is also indicated by its strong participation in the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda.
At the heart of the 2030 Agenda are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which may sound simple and pretty straightforward, yet we are still a long way from achieving them:
No poverty, no hunger, health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, access to clean water for all, cheap and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry-innovation-infrastructure, reduce inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, sustainable consumption and production, climate action, protection of marine life, protection of life on land, peace-justice-strong institutions, cooperatives for achieving the goals.
The EU has therefore included in its policies and priorities the implementation of the above objectives. In this direction, the member states, the European Parliament, other European institutions, international organisations, and its citizens have a role.
In this context, the SDGs targets fall within and are included in the six EU priorities for the period 2019-2024:
- A Green Deal, which aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral and resource-efficient continent.
- A Europe fit for the digital age by empowering its people with new generation technologies.
- An economy that works for the benefit of all citizens by creating an attractive investment environment and growth that creates quality jobs, especially for young people and small and medium-sized businesses.
- A stronger voice for Europe in the international arena.
- Promoting the European way of life by protecting the EU rule of law, justice and core values.
- A new push for European democracy by giving EU citizens a bigger say and protecting it from external interference.
With all these in mind, it is clear that Europe is seeking a stronger position in the modern world by showing the way out of the crisis and building a greener, more digital, and sustainable future.
The role of the member states in the whole undertaking is considered to be particularly important.
As the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stated while approving the Cyprus National Recovery and Resilience Plan, “it is important because your success will be our success, a European success”.
As in other countries, the Cyprus Recovery and Sustainability Plan emphasises a green and digital economy, enhancing resilience and long-term growth, creating new job opportunities and social cohesion conditions.
Given that the National Plan was formally approved, what remains now is its implementation by 2026.
The hardest part, because its implementation is truly a political challenge.
Any incorrect implementation of the Plan endangers the rapid economic recovery from the crisis caused by the coronavirus and the entire future of the Cyprus economy.
The train of sustainable development has started, and the countries that do not ride on it risk exclusion from major international developments.
Nicole K. Phinopoulou, Lawyer/Legal Counsel, Alumni of the Institute for Sustainability Leadership, University of Cambridge