Introduction

With its global and overarching political approach, UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development has been highly relevant for the Council of Europe, which has, from the outset, been contributing to the process which led to the adoption of Agenda 2030.

As Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland pointed out in his letter to then-Secretary-General of the United National Ban Ki-moon in May 2015, “The Council of Europe is an organisation founded on the universal values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Our contribution must therefore focus on these values. They are not only values in their own right, but important factors of sustainability for any societal model”.

By definition, our philosophy is that most, if not all, of the Council of Europe’s activities are relevant and contribute to the implementation of Agenda 2030. In this context, as of the next biennium (2018-2019), the Council of Europe’s programme of activities and budget will indicate links, where relevant, to specific Sustainable Development Goals.

The unique added-value of the Council of Europe is a combination of:

  • its pan-European membership: 47 member States;
  • its standards: a comprehensive measurable normative framework which can be used as indicators/benchmarks;
  •  its multi-stakeholder dimension: in addition to its intergovernmental bodies, the Council of Europe’s unique structure includes the Parliamentary Assembly1, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the Commissioner for Human Rights the Conference of International NGOs, as well as the European Court of Human Rights, the case law of which covers almost all SDGs. The annual World Forum for Democracy is also an important platform reaching out to civil society to consolidate democratic institutions. These various bodies and instruments are precious to support States in their efforts to translate the global agenda into action at both national and local levels;
  • its monitoring/follow-up bodies and processes: essential to gather data, assess progress and provide further guidance;
  • its technical support provided to individual countries for capacity-building and removing obstacles to implementation; and
  •  its global outreach: most of the organisation’s legally-binding conventions and activities are open to participation by non-member States, in particular, those benefitting from observer status and from the neighbouring regions

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