The main institutional framework
The overall responsibility for monitoring and coordinating, at the highest political level, the national implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in Greece lies with the Presidency of the Government (PoG) established by the “Executive State” law in August 2019 for the purpose of coordinating the planning and monitoring the implementation of the whole Government programme and work, ensuring the promotion of a whole-of-government approach and reinforcing the imperative political ownership of public policies . In 2021, a specific Working Group on the SDGs was set up, under the auspices of the General Secretariat of Coordination (GSCO) of the PoG, tasked with :
(i) regularly monitoring implementation of all public policies which support sustainable development,
(ii) producing progress reports on the application of the SDGs,
(iii) elaborating and drafting the national voluntary review (VNR) on the implementation of the SDGs submitted to the United Nations – in close cooperation with all ministries, the Hellenic Statistical Authority and key stakeholders, and
(iv) providing support to and monitoring public consultations on sustainable development and the 17 SDGs.
The work of the Working Group on the SDGs is supported by an Inter-ministerial Coordination Network for the SDGs that brings together representatives from all ministries, acting as focal points in charge of working on SDGs-related issues within their respective ministries and mainstreaming them in thematic policies and legislation. The Working Group on the SDGs also cooperates closely with the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). ELSTAT has developed, after consultation with all ministries, a set of specific national indicators on the SDGs, selected from the global SDGs indicator framework and the EU SDG indicator list, with a view to monitoring the quantitative progress made towards the achievement of the 17 SDGs at national level. These national indicators reflect the environmental, social, economic and institutional aspects of the SDGs, and they are subject to regular revisions, based on the available official statistics and data.
Greece has also established, within the Presidency of the Government, a robust monitoring and review mechanism. It is responsible for measuring progress towards implementation of government work and evaluating systematically strategic public policies and reform measures, including those which are closely related to the SDGs, on the basis of robust, high-quality and quantified evidence. In parallel, the Greek Government attaches importance to the active participation and engagement of stakeholders in the overall implementation of the SDGs at all levels, through the adoption of a whole-of-society approach. Stakeholders from a wide range of social and economic sectors, including local and regional authorities, social partners, civil society organisations and research institutions, have increasingly mainstreamed the sustainability principle and the SDGs into their work programme, strategic priorities, key projects and actions. The Hellenic Parliament has played, over the last years, a vital role in elaborating and examining bills or law proposals, along with participating in important initiatives at international level, which fall, inter alia, within the scope and objectives of the 2030 Agenda.
Mainstreaming sustainable development into strategic policies and initiatives
For Greece, the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals provide a transformative, inclusive and overarching guiding framework. They ensure a resilient and sustainable recovery from the enormous economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, facilitate the green and digital transition of the economy and society, and promote fair and sustainable growth, while respecting the limits of our planet, leaving no one behind. The three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – and the SDGs lie at the heart of the Greek Government programme and policy-making process. They are reflected and integrated, in a coherent and balanced manner, in the strategic national priorities and overall policy framework, including reform strategies, actions plans, legislation, funding programmes and instruments. An illustrative example is the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP, «Greece 2.0») adopted on 27 April 2021 that introduces a wide spectrum of comprehensive and forward-looking reform measures and investment actions which intend to accelerate the country’s transition towards a more sustainable, green and inclusive growth model and to strengthen its economic, social and institutional resilience . The NRRP is structured around four core pillars inextricably linked to the main priorities and objectives of the SDGs, including: (i) green transition, (ii) digital transition, (iii) employment, skills and social cohesion; and (iv) private investment and economic and institutional transformation. Equally important, the key dimensions of sustainable development lie at the heart of one of the most overarching national strategic documents, the National Reform Plan (NRP). The NRP introduces a number of crucial reform measures and interventions carried out by the whole government and its ministries in the form of yearly updated and targeted public policies that mainstream comprehensively the main objectives and priorities of the SDGs .
The Government has also adopted, over recent years, a wide range of overarching strategies and action plans that integrate, in a coherent and balanced manner, the principle of leaving no one behind in public policies and legislation. These strategies and action plans pay heed to targeted measures and initiatives which support the most vulnerable groups and those who are furthest behind, and promote human rights, gender equality and social inclusion. Particular examples are : (i) the National Action Plan for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2020), (ii) the Strategy for Social Inclusion and the Fight against Poverty (2022), (iii) the National Action Plan for Gender Equality (2021), (iv) National Strategy for LGBTQ+ Equality (2021), (v) the National Plan for the Rights of the Child (2021) and (vi) the National Youth Plan (2022). In parallel, Greece places considerable emphasis on the promotion of the environmental dimension of the SDGs through the adoption of thematic strategies and action plans along with the implementation of comprehensive measures that protect the environment and the climate and ensure the sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. Illustrative examples include :
- The National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).
- The first Climate Law adopted by the Hellenic Parliament in May 2022.
- The National Biodiversity Strategy and its Action Plan.
- The National Maritime Spatial Planning Strategy (NMSPS) and Maritime Spatial Plans.
- The Multiannual National Strategic Plan for the development of aquaculture in Greece (2021-2030).
- A number of environment-related measures and actions embedded in the National Rural Development Programme.
- The National Reforestation Plan.
- The National Risk Assessment and National Disaster Risk Management Plan.
- The National Waste Management Plan 2020-2030 and the new National Waste Prevention Programme 2021-2030.
- The River Basin Management Plans.
At international level, Greece plays a vital role in advancing measures and actions, guided by the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which support the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. They do so through the establishment of multilateral and bilateral partnership schemes, the adoption of comprehensive legal and policy instruments and the launch of cooperative initiatives, in the context of international and regional organizations and fora, in the field of trade and investments, development cooperation, environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources, cultural and natural heritage, peace, stability, security, human rights and the rule of law.
Introducing sustainability in regulatory governance, state budget and core financial instruments
Greece also attributes particular importance to integrating the principles of sustainable development and the SDGs in the regulation framework, state budget and key financial instruments. In this regard, the Greek Government drafted and published in 2020 a new comprehensive and redesigned Manual and Template on Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), introducing, for the first time, the SDGs, in a systematic manner, into the regulatory policy and governance . More specifically, RIA incorporates a distinctive index addressing the consistency and compatibility of the proposed regulatory measures with the three dimensions of sustainable development and the SDGs. The incorporation of the aforementioned index in RIA contributes significantly to mainstreaming all 17 SDGs into the Greek legislation and further strengthening the transparency and accountability of the legislative process. In addition, the Presidency of the Government is in the process of publishing a new comprehensive Manual and Template on Ex-post Evaluation of Legislation, which addresses, inter alia, the extent to which the existing legislation has contributed to the achievement of the SDGs.
In a similar vein, in 2021 the Government integrated, for the first time, sustainability and environmental footprint indicators in the process of drafting and implementing the state budget, within the framework of a green budgeting and performance reform, which aims to increase and enhance transparency, coherence, resilience and inclusiveness in public financial management. Importantly, Greece puts forward actions and initiatives that strengthen and reinvigorate the overall financing framework for sustainable development. They do so through ensuring the mobilization of adequate financial resources and the effective implementation of a wide range of long-term national and EU funding programmes and instruments that foster the promotion of all dimensions of sustainable development, including the Public Investments Programme, the new Investment Incentives Law (2022), the new Strategic Investment Framework (2021), the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2021-2027 and the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) .
- For a comprehensive overview of the main policy measures, legislative initiatives and institutional reforms adopted by the Greek government in order to accelerate the full implementation of the SDGs, see Presidency of the Hellenic Government, Voluntary National Review 2022 on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2022, pp. 1-362. The Greek Voluntary National Review 2022 is available at: https://hlpf.un.org/countries/greece/voluntary-national-review-2022.
- Hellenic Republic, Decision no. 3219 of the Secretary General for the Coordination of Government, Government Gazette B’ 3521/2022 of 7 July 2022.
- Hellenic Republic, National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) “Greece 2.0”, Ministry of Finance, 2021. The NRRP is available at https://greece20.gov.gr/en/the-complete-plan/.
- The National Reform Programme (NRP) 2023 is available at: https://commission.europa.eu/content/2023-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stabilityconvergence-programmes_en#greece.
- Presidency of the Hellenic Government, Voluntary National Review 2022 on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2022, pp. 14, 37-39, 46-175.
- Ibid., pp. 86-157.
- Presidency of the Hellenic Government, Voluntary National Review 2022 on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2022, pp. 183-189.
- Hellenic Republic, Presidency of the Government, Manual and Template on Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), 2020.
- Presidency of the Hellenic Government, Voluntary National Review 2022 on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2022, pp. 178-182.
About the author
Senior Research Fellow of MEPIELAN Centre, Special Adviser on International and European Affairs at Secretariat General for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Presidency of the Hellenic Government