Bulgaria country profile - SDGs and the environment

Briefing Published 02 Dec 2020 Last modified 02 Dec 2020
2 min read
Photo: © Photo by Antoine Petitteville on Unsplash
Sustainable development is an important priority for the government of Bulgaria. Ahead of its EU Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018, Bulgaria identified sustainable development as an integral element of its Presidency agenda (Ministry of Tourism, 2017). Former President Rosen Plevneliev called for the adoption of a Bulgarian 2030 Agenda based on the UN SDGs and the ‘EC Communication on Next steps for a sustainable European future’ (Plevneliev, 2016).

Bulgaria's focus on progressing towards the SDGs with environmental action mainly lies in air quality (SDGs 3 and 11), water management (SDG 6), marine protection (SDG 14) and protection of nature and biodiversity (SDG 15). The country is also focusing on establishing a green and energy-efficient economy (SDG 7) (BGRF, 2016) (Plevneliev, 2016).

Bulgaria adopted an approach for the whole government which takes into account the interlinkages between the SDGs. In advancing its SDG action, Bulgaria focuses on 10 SDGs with an environmental dimension (SDGs 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15). 

Bulgaria's first VNR in 2020 outlines some of the initiatives undertaken towards achieving the SDGs. By the end of 2020, the Council of Ministers will adopt the National Development Programme BULGARIA 2030 which will address three main strategic goals: accelerated economic development, demographic upswing, and a reduction in inequalities. The Programme will outline 13 national priorities in five development areas. A ‘Green and Sustainable Bulgaria’ is among these development areas, in which a circular and low-carbon economy (SDGs 7, 8, 12), clean air and biodiversity (SDGs 3, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15), and sustainable agriculture (SDGs 2, 14, 15) will be addressed (UN DESA, 2020). The Programme reflects the approach of the whole government to sustainable development and considers the interlinkages between the SDGs (Republic of Bulgaria, 2020).

In drafting the VNR, the Bulgarian government involved multi stakeholders from civil society, marginalised groups, business and academia. Wider public feedback was also sought through an online consultation process (UN DESA, 2019).

Bulgaria submitted a VNR to the UN in 2020.

The VNR also states that the biggest challenge to successfully integrating the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of Bulgaria's sustainable development policies is the coal sector which still has a significant share of the country’s energy balance. The reasons for this are related to job retention and greater energy security for the country. A solution to this problem is being sought through the preparation of the Integrated national energy and climate plan. This plan covers the five dimensions of the Energy Union for Europe: decarbonisation, energy efficiency, energy security, Internal Energy Market and research, innovation, and competitiveness (Republic of Bulgaria, 2020).


BGRF, 2016,Implementing the SDGs – from discussions to strategies and reforms, Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation (BGRF) and Social Watch Bulgaria, Bulgaria ( accessed 14 November 2017. 

Plevneliev, R., 2016, ‘Statement by H.E. Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, United Nations General Assembly, High-Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’, Republic of Bulgaria ( accessed 6 November 2017.

Republic of Bulgaria, 2020, Voluntary National Review Sustainable Development Goals, Republic of Bulgaria ( accessed 12 June 2020.

UN DESA, 2017, ‘Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform – Documents and Reports’, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, USA ( accessed 16 October 2017.



The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.


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