Quotation Hametner, Markus, Kostetckaia, Mariia. 2020. Frontrunners and laggards: How fast are the EU member states progressing towards the sustainable development goals? Ecological Economics. 177




Since the adoption of the United Nation's 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, attempts to monitor their status of achievement are increasing by governments, the academic community and non-governmental actors. Particular focus is thereby put on constructing composite indices that allow benchmarking of countries according to their level of SDG achievement. Throughout the different rankings that exist, countries from northern Europe appear to be most advanced regarding SDG implementation. However, this picture is biased as these rankings typically refer to the relative position of countries in relation to all other countries included in the index at a certain point in time. Tracking countries' absolute progress over time towards the SDGs on the basis of such indices can therefore be misleading. The present paper proposes a new progress measure based on the Eurostat method for measuring progress towards the SDGs over time. Applying this measure to the EU Member States on the basis of the official EU SDG indicator set, we show that countries labelled as “SD leaders” hardly make further progress towards the SDGs, while strong movement towards the goals is visible in southern and eastern European countries that score rather low in existing indices. This new perspective suggests that to actually monitor progress towards achieving the SDGs, existing SDG indices should be complemented with a longitudinal perspective to assess development over time towards or away from the 2030 Agenda's objectives.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Ecological Economics
Citation Index SSCI
WU Journalrating 2009 A
WU-Journal-Rating new FIN-A, STRAT-B, VW-C, WH-B
Language English
Title Frontrunners and laggards: How fast are the EU member states progressing towards the sustainable development goals?
Volume 177
Year 2020
Reviewed? Y
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106775
Open Access N


EUROSTAT Publications on EU policy initiatives and methodological assistance on indicators (2019-2022)
Hametner, Markus (Details)
Kostetckaia, Mariia (Details)
Institute for Managing Sustainability IN (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
1904 Interdisciplinary natural sciences (Details)
2959 Sustainable development, sustainable economics (Details)
5353 Environmental economics (Details)
5924 Environmental economics (Details)
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