On Thursday 22 September 2022, during a joint session of the Luxembourg's Environment and Foreign Affairs Committees of the Chamber of Deputies, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, Joëlle Welfring, and Minister for Cooperation and Humanitarian Action, Franz Fayot, submitted to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) the report of Luxembourg's second Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The ministers presented the Luxembourg report to the United Nations at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2022, a forum which is the United Nations' main platform for monitoring and taking stock of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
The report was drawn up and adopted by the Interdepartmental Commission for Sustainable Development, bringing together representatives from all the ministries.
Government actions since 2017
After a first voluntary national review in 2017, the 2022 report highlights the actions implemented both nationally, in Luxembourg, and in international development cooperation activities.
Minister Welfring presented the main progress made in the implementation of the third National Plan for Sustainable Development (PNDD) “Luxembourg 2030”. In particular, she highlighted the measures taken to strengthen the coherence of policies in terms of sustainable development and to guarantee the involvement and support of local stakeholders. She reported on the policies that Luxembourg has adopted in terms of climate action and the protection of biodiversity and natural resources.
As a minister responsible for the inter-ministerial coordination of sustainable development, she also gave explanations on the implementation of the priorities set out in the third National Plan for Sustainable Development; such as the fight against social exclusion and poverty, the transformation of the economy, the construction of a sustainable finance ecosystem, as well as the measures implemented to move towards carbon-free mobility.
Minister Fayot reiterated Luxembourg's support for multilateralism as well as Luxembourg's commitment to sustainable development not only at national level, but also in the partner countries of Luxembourg's cooperation. In terms of external policies in a development cooperation context, Luxembourg has given itself several tools since its first VNR in 2017 to support the SDGs, the main ones being the adoption of a general development cooperation strategy "In road to 2030", which falls within the framework of the SDGs, on the one hand, and the implementation of a "whole-of-government approach", in which the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Energy have joined forces in the development and implementation of a single multi-year programme, on the other hand. This approach was initiated in Cabo Verde with the current Indicative Cooperation Programme “Development – Climate – Energy” and it is planned to introduce it, gradually, also in the other partner countries. Minister Fayot also recalled the importance of the coherence of cooperation policies in order to make societies more resilient and to achieve the SDGs.
Progress made in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
Some indicators have reached or exceeded their quantified target for 2020, such as, for example, the share of renewable energies in final energy consumption, employment rate, gas emissions at greenhouse effect excluding the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and net official development assistance.
In the field of water management, the situation in Luxembourg is contrasted. Pollution by nitrates, climate change and the increase in water needs linked to economic and demographic growth increase water stress.
In order to improve the situation:
- Many investments have been made in recent years and virtually all indicators are green. Water purification presents a favourable development in the short term.
- A reform of the "nitrates regulation" is currently underway, in consultation with colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, considering that 77% of nutrient flows come from agriculture.
- The management plan (of the Rhine and Meuse river basin districts) for the third management period (2021-2027) has just been adopted by the Government in Council in July this year. This management plan will make it possible to implement, together with the players in the field, in particular the municipalities, the measures necessary to improve the state of surface and ground water.
- In addition, the bill relating to the quality of water intended for human consumption and amending the amended law of 19 December 2008 relating to water will be voted on by the Council of Government in early 2023. This bill transposes the European Union (EU) directive 2020/2184 on the quality of water intended for human consumption in order to protect human health from the harmful effects of contamination of drinking water, to improve access to drinking water and to help secure the national drinking water supply.
In terms of responsible consumption and production, the green economy is progressing in Luxembourg, both in terms of environmental protection and the rational management of resources. However, two crucial footprints for measuring this progress, namely the material footprint and the carbon footprint, are not part of STATEC's analysis this year. They will be integrated in the next fiscal year.
Other sources not taken into account to measure sustainable development indicators show that the country has an extremely high ecological footprint and still has a lot to do to reduce it.
Waste generation is stagnating and recycling rates have not increased in recent years. This is notably due to the proportion of non-household waste in Luxembourg which is linked to the high number of cross-border commuters. Additional measures will therefore be necessary to achieve the recycling targets set by the EU.
In order to achieve our objectives, certain measures have already been taken:
- The so-called “Offall-a Ressourcëpak” law package, published on 9 June 2022, has the prevention and reduction of waste as its main objectives. This translates into various projects, including the development of a national electronic waste register.
- A construction guide and an inventory of waste from construction and demolition has been drawn up. This is to reduce the significant quantities of waste from this sector generated in Luxembourg.
- A CTG Deconstruction and Demolition project (general technical clause) has been developed. This aims to provide a practical tool for public actors to align their deconstruction projects with the principles of the circular economy in the context of public procurement. The CTG project will be transformed into a final (and compulsory) version after a "test" phase and after taking into account the feedback from the actors in the field.
Regarding life on land, the protection of our environment and respect for natural resources, it must be noted that the share of agricultural and forest areas has been inexorably declining for more than 20 years. Although it still covers 84.9% of the country, artificial areas are eating up more and more ground. This trend has serious impacts on biodiversity.
Several measures have already been taken to resolve these problems:
- More than 27% of the surface areas in Luxembourg are Natura 2000 areas or special protection areas – an area which has almost doubled since 2003.
- The implementation of Natura 2000 network management plans has been finalised.
- The new National Nature Protection Plan (PNPN3) will be adopted at the end of 2022 and takes into account the recommendations of the European Commission.
- The Spatial Planning Master Programme together with the EIA begins the public inquiry this week.
- Finally, Luxembourg demonstrates good practice with its national recovery and resilience plan, which contains direct investments in nature and biodiversity, including the protection of groundwater and the renaturation of rivers.
A common commitment
Although it is a special responsibility of the government, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda concerns society as a whole. For this reason, the report presented to the United Nations also takes up the initiatives and actions taken by the various actors in society, whether in coordination with government representatives or on their own initiative.
The report is available online via: https://environnement.public.lu/content/dam/environnement/actualites/2022/07/def-luxembourg-revuenationalevolontaire2022-v01.pdf.