Six Transformations to Achieve the SDGs and Support for the European Green Deal: EU Green Deal Senior Working Group for the Energy Transition


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement call for deep transformations in every country that require complementary actions by governments, civil society, science, and business. While significant progress is being made on some goals, no country is currently on track towards achieving all SDGs. Says Professor Sachs, “the SDGs have become the world’s shared framework for sustainable development, but countries need more clarity on how to operationalize and track progress towards the 17 goals. Similarly, businesses, science, and civil society must support SDG achievement.”

In response, the paper “Six Transformations to Achieve the SDGs,” [1] published on 26 August 2019 in the journal Nature Sustainability, builds on the 2018 report of ‘The World in 2050 Project’ to propose an action agenda for implementing the SDGs. Written by Jeffrey D. Sachs (Columbia University), Guido Schmidt-Traub (Sustainable Development Solutions Network), Mariana Mazzucato (University College London), Dirk Messner (United Nations University), Nebojsa Nakicenovic (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis), and Johan Rockström (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research), the paper identifies the major interventions needed to achieve each SDG and groups them in six SDG Transformations.

Each Transformation identifies priority investments and regulatory challenges and calls for actions by well-defined parts of government working with business and civil society. Transformations may, therefore, be operationalized within the structures of government while respecting the strong interdependencies across the 17 SDGs. The paper also outlines an action agenda for science to provide the knowledge required for designing, implementing, and monitoring the SDG Transformations.

Additionally, the European Green Deal offers a regulatory framework that will guide the operations of governments, organizations and businesses in the European Union, incentivizing the use of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs as the basis for action. This makes SDSN’s Six Transformations a useful integrated policy framework from which European countries and businesses can work together to help Europe become the first carbon-neutral continent in the world by 2050. 


SDSN EU Green Deal Senior Working Group for the Energy Transition

This group will support the implementation of the European Green Deal (EGD) and facilitate the participation of national stakeholders and local experts through SDSN’s European networks to advise and provide support to the European Commission.  



  1. Prof. Phoebe Koundouri, Athens University of Economics and Business and President-Elect of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 
  2. Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University and Global Director of UN SDSN


Objectives of the Group:

1. Identify and promote, for each EU Member State, and for the EU as a whole, technological and policy pathways for Climate Change mitigation (decarbonization) and adaptation within and across EU Member States, for the implementation of the European Green Deal and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of UN Agenda 2030, supported by financial portfolios derived from the budget of (a) the European Green Deal, (b) the EU Multiannual Financial Framework, (c) the EU Recovery Plan. 

2. Provide strategic recommendations and mobilize experts for the ongoing implementation of the European Green Deal through SDSN networks.

3. Mobilize experts to “rethink policies for clean energy supply and climate adaptation projects, across the economy, industry, production and consumption, large-scale infrastructure, transport, food and agriculture, construction, taxation and social benefits”. 

4. Mobilize stakeholders in partnership with the SDSN European networks to guarantee local engagement and support for these policies. 


On August 4 Prof. Koundouri and Prof. Sachs will speak about this project at the Webinar for Parliamentarians: COVID-19 and Climate Change August 4, 2020 | 8:00 am to 10:00 am EDT | 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm CEST. 

The COVID-19 pandemic represents the greatest threat to humanity since World War II. In addition to the immediate public health emergency, policies such as lockdowns and sheltering in place, which are critical and effective at slowing the spread of the virus, have been catastrophic for economies. Many sectors have been significantly impacted, including agriculture and other primary activities, tourism and related services, restaurants, and retail. At the same time, these same policies have resulted in reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and dramatic improvements to air quality in cities around the world, to the benefit of the environment, public health and the fight against climate change. As we recover from COVID-19 and re-start the global economy, what can we do to leverage this catastrophe and the resulting economic stimulus packages to build back better? Past recovery packages, such as those passed in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, have supported business-as-usual and resulted in ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions. However, today policymakers are looking to recovery packages as a means to spur green development. A recent example of this is the €1.8 trillion recovery package recently approved by European governments, which includes more than €500 billion for electric cars and renewable energy resources. A number of policymakers and experts have made science-based recommendations on these critical issues, and there is a growing body of policy evidence on effective responses. To ensure that good practices from leading countries as well as experts are shared with a wide array of policymakers, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Parliamentarians for the Global Goals have come together to organize a high-level dialogue. This event will present current trends and foster conversations between Parliamentarians and experts on solutions, with a look as to how addressing the COVID-19 crisis can have long-lasting impacts to support the achievement of the Paris Climate Agreement and SDG 13. This is the third in a series of four webinars on COVID-19 response and the SDGs designed for and with Parliamentarians around the world. They are meant as a forum for peer-to-peer learning, mutual inspiration, and exchange of best practices that can inspire more political action on SDGs. The event itself will be discussion-focused, and feature interactions between the experts and Parliamentarians. Registration is open online. 


Draft Agenda 7:45 am ETD Virtual meeting room opens

8:00 am EDT Welcome Remarks 

  • Ms. Gabriela Cuevas, President, IPU 
  • Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, President, SDSN 

8:05 am EDT Expert Presentations 

  • Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • Mr. Selwin Charles Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action
  • Mr. Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities of Denmark
  • Dr. Phoebe Koundouri, Professor in the School of Economics at the Athens University of Economics & Business

8:45 am EDT Discussion

  • Moderated by Kirsten Brosbøl, Founder, Parliamentarians for the Global Goals 

Questions may be asked directly to the presenters or Parliamentarians may comment on their own initiatives in this area. Statements will be kept strictly to 2 minutes to maximize the number of speakers. 

9:55 am EDT Closing Remarks from Kirsten Brosbøl & Gabriela Cuevas 

10:00 am EDT Adjourn


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