To renew the commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda, the Decade of Action was launched in September 2019, calling on all actors to significantly increase the pace and scale of implementation efforts. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has strongly affected the prospects for sustainable development, including the possibilities of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The V4+ countries—Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria—like many others are influenced by factors that limit their ability to fully achieve the 2030 Agenda. At the same time, we believe that only the sustainable approach to the recovery would allow the achievement of the ambitious goals set out in the 2030 Agenda. We recognize the need to involve the widest possible range of stakeholders and to make use of all instruments at our disposal in order to make progress on the path of sustainable development and improve the quality of life.
The pandemic has shown that governments, organizations, businesses as well as the representatives of the civil society can work together to make quality and inclusive decisions on effective ways of working as well as usage of resources to solve the most urgent challenges. Thus, trusting collaboration on many issues is not only entirely possible, but it is also the way to move forward.
We want to be ambitious in making progress in all dimensions of sustainable development, but we are also realistic given the current, still unpredictable circumstances.
Recalling the special declaration of the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Visegrad Group adopted in Krakow, Poland, on 17 February 2021 and taking into account the areas of common interest for the V4+ partners, we set out the priorities for the implementation of the Decade of Action for the 2030 Agenda:
- Continue close cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and take actions to facilitate recovery from the pandemic crisis. We now have an opportunity to use the recovery as a driver to tackle long-term structural challenges and turn the crisis into an incentive for our economies and societies to make a successful and equitable transition towards the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Tackle the challenges of a twin transformation—green and digital—towards a sustainable and low-carbon economy. The European Green Deal, as a new EU development strategy, has become an impetus for coordinated economic and environmental action, especially in the current situation caused by the pandemic. Its implementation will represent not only a development opportunity for the EU, but also for the V4+ countries. We recognize the need for a comprehensive approach to environmental and climate problems, through actions in many sectors and areas, recognizing that only such a solution will be effective.
- Fight climate change and minimise its impact through effective policies. Climate policy will continue to be an important challenge. It has a horizontal impact on a number of other European policies. We emphasize the importance of a just transition to climate neutrality. We should set ourselves ambitious energy and climate targets, however at the same time they must be realistic.
- Consolidate the green economy value chain for the European industry. The current trends of shortening supply chains and diversifying raw material sources represent an opportunity for growth in many forward-looking industries.
- Improve the competitiveness and innovation potential of V4+ countries on digital issues, as well as strengthen digital transformation and accelerate the adoption of key digital technologies by V4+ governments and businesses. These measures should include new operating models for both the private and public sector, as well as strengthening cyber security.
- Leveraging the opportunities offered by green and sustainable financing to support economic growth while meeting environmental and social goals. By making progress along this path and using funds effectively, we can build sustainable competitive advantages and socioeconomic capacity to better respond to future crises.
- Protecting and restoring biodiversity and natural ecosystems is an important factor for increasing resilience and preventing the emergence and spread of future epidemics.
- Strengthening the social dimension of sustainable development, in particular resilience mechanisms in the health system, promoting inclusion, quality education and skills for the future, the role of youth, as well as social dialogue and decent work.
All this requires a broad cooperation and partnership between central and local governments, institutions, civil society, as well as between the business community and other stakeholders. We recognize the need to develop such cooperation with a sense of unity and solidarity both within countries and internationally.