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Global partnership for sustainable development

This communication highlights how the European Union contributes to global sustainable development and the action aimed at establishing a global deal for sustainable development.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 21 February 2002, entitled: "Towards a global partnership for sustainable development" [COM(2002) 82 final - Not published in Official Journal].


The European Union (EU) established a strategy for sustainable development in May 2001. In endorsing this strategy, the Göteborg European Council recognised that the external dimension needed to be further developed. It also called on the Commission to consider the Union's contribution to global sustainable development. This communication responds to this request and contributes to developing the EU's position in relation to the World Summit on sustainable development, which was held in Johannesburg in 2002.

The communication takes as its starting point the idea that globalisation acts as a powerful force for sustaining global growth and providing ways of dealing with international problems such as health, education and the environment. However, left to develop unchecked, market forces cause and exacerbate inequality and exclusion and can cause irreparable damage to the environment. Globalisation must therefore go hand in hand with measures designed to prevent or mitigate these effects. In the crucial spheres of trade, development financing, environmental management and combating poverty and crime, it is essential that efforts be made to draw up joint rules which are implemented and monitored effectively. It is also necessary to improve global governance, i.e. to promote more efficient management of interdependence.

The communication presents a series of actions to contribute to global sustainable development. They complement the May 2001 strategy for sustainable development and cover economic, social, environmental and financial aspects, as well as coherence of Community policies and governance at all levels.

Harnessing globalisation: trade for sustainable development

To ensure that globalisation contributes to sustainable development, the specific economic activities set out by the Commission are as follows:

  • within the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), to improve the integration of developing countries into the world economy;
  • to help developing countries benefit from the global trading system;
  • to change the generalised system of preferences (GSP) to take account of sustainable development;
  • to include sustainable development in the bilateral and regional agreements;
  • to reduce the non-transparent use of the international financial system and to regulate it more efficiently;
  • to encourage European businesses to be socially responsible;
  • to promote cooperation between the WTO and international environmental organisations.

Fighting poverty and promoting social development

The aim is to reduce extreme poverty in the world by 2015 (people who live on $ 1 a day or less). Consequently, the quality, quantity, impact and sustainability of development cooperation must be increased. The activities to be carried out in this field are as follows:

  • to focus EU development policy on poverty reduction;
  • to ensure that EU policies contribute to combating hunger;
  • to integrate water distribution and treatment policies with health and education policies;
  • to mainstream the gender perspective in EU policies;
  • to invest more in the fields of health, education, training and communicable diseases;
  • to promote research relating to sustainable development.

Sustainable management of natural and environmental resources

The objective in this field is to reverse the trend of the loss of environmental resources by 2015 as well as to develop intermediate objectives in the sectors of water, land and soil, energy and biodiversity. The specific activities set out are as follows:

  • at the Johannesburg World Summit, to launch an initiative to promote sustainable water resource management;
  • to launch an initiative on cooperation in the field of energy and development;
  • to promote the application of international environmental agreements;
  • to partially replenish the Global Environment Facility;
  • to draw up an action plan to combat illegal logging;
  • to invest in sustainable modes of transport;
  • to promote sustainable fishing;
  • to deal with the prevention of natural disasters;
  • to extend the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) system to developing countries.

Improving the coherence of European Union policies

The aim is to integrate sustainable development into all EU policies. The activities to be implemented are as follows:

  • to establish a system to assess the economic, social and environmental impact of all major policy proposals of the Union;
  • to continue the process of adapting policies to the objectives of sustainable development;
  • to sign the United Nations Protocol on the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking of Firearms;
  • to combat the negative effects of emigration.

Better governance at all levels

This area deals with strengthening the participation of civil society, and the legitimacy, coherence and effectiveness of global economic, social and environmental governance. The communication proposes the following specific action:

  • strengthening public institutions and civil society in developing countries;
  • stepping up the fight against corruption;
  • ensuring that core labour standards are respected;
  • at the Johannesburg Summit, encouraging the adoption of decisions which improve global governance;
  • stepping up the fight against discrimination against women.

Financing sustainable development

The objectives are those of the Millennium Declaration, namely: to eradicate poverty and hunger; to achieve universal primary education; to promote gender equality; to reduce child mortality; to improve women's health; to combat communicable diseases; to promote sustainable development; and to develop a global partnership. The suggested actions are:

  • to make progress towards achieving the target of allocating official development assistance of 0.7 % of GNI (gross national income) and achieving the intermediate target of at least 0.33 % of GNI for all countries of the European Union from 2006;
  • to reduce the debt of the heavily indebted poor countries;
  • to take part in the debate on the possibility of States offering global public goods.


Joint declaration by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on the development policy of the European Union, entitled The European Consensus [Official Journal C 46/01 of 24 February 2006]. In this declaration, the European Union reaffirms that the objective of its development policy is to reduce poverty worldwide in the context of sustainable development.

Last updated: 26.09.2007