Greece country profile - SDGs and the environment

Briefing Published 02 Dec 2020 Last modified 02 Dec 2020
3 min read
Photo: © Photo by Antoine Petitteville on Unsplash
Greece hosts a unique ecological treasury and is a remarkable EU Member State in terms of its ecological wealth. It was one of the first countries worldwide to endorse a framework law on the protection of the environment (Law 1650/1986), and the principles of environmental protection are embedded in the constitution.

Greece identified and endorsed eight national priorities for SDG action, on which the country’s 2018 VNR was based. The sixth national priority is ‘strengthening the protection and sustainable management of natural capital as a base for social prosperity and transition to a low-carbon economy’. The policies and measures to achieve this priority include:

  • transition to a circular economy model for sustainable production and consumption patterns (SDGs 12, 8 and 9);
  • development of an integrated environmental framework to support economic development and investment, while safeguarding and protecting natural capital and biodiversity, in particular:
    • sustainable water resources management (SDG 6);
    • inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities (SDGs 6, 11);
    • sustainable use of seas and marine resources (SDG 14);
    • protection, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15);
  • transition to a low-carbon economy and adaptation to the impacts of climate change (SDGs 7, 13) (Hellenic Republic, 2018).

The priority given to SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 with an environmental dimension is based on the notion that Greece’s natural environment constitutes not only the identity of the country but is also a key asset for development. Thus, environmental protection is regarded as the basis for ensuring sustainable economic growth — for example, through quality tourism and the production of quality agricultural products and food, as these two sectors are the backbone of the Greek economy and rely on the quality of the natural environment. This is also the basis for social well-being as it safeguards human health and access to high-quality environmental and ecosystem services for citizens (Hellenic Republic, 2018).

Greece prioritises actions towards SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 with an environmental dimension

As Greece is a maritime nation and a coastal state, shipping, fishing, development of offshore energy sources, port and transportation facilities, recreation and tourism are vital economic activities (SDG 14). The country also recognises the interlinkage between SDG 14 and SDG 3 (good health and well-being), because the health and well-being of coastal populations — especially of island communities, which are sometimes wholly dependent upon fishing and tourism — are linked to the quality of the marine environment (Kalamvrezos, 2017).


Greece submitted a VNR to the UN in 2018.

Greece aims to revisit its overall development through an ‘SDGs lens’, hoping to boost the economy, stimulate decent employment, strengthen social protection and inclusion, and protect the environment and natural capital. The SDGs offer the country a new vision for sustainable development, ensuring the spread of prosperity and the protection of the most vulnerable and fostering economic stability founded on a sound ecological basis. It also approaches SDGs through a long-term institutional mechanism that takes an approach supported by the whole government. This includes an Interministerial Coordination Network comprising representatives from line ministries and steered by the presidency of the government which has undertaken the role of coordinating national efforts to achieve the SDGs from a long-term perspective (Hellenic Republic, 2018).

To enhance transparency, partnership and accountability, actions and activities have been carried out with non-state actors. The Economic and Social Council of Greece (ESC) is the institution constitutionally responsible for conducting social dialogue among major social partners and stakeholders. Within this context, in 2017, on the request of the General Secretariat of the Government, the ESC issued an opinion entitled ‘UN 2030 Agenda - Priority Objectives for Greece’. This presented its views on the national prioritisation of the SDGs, submitting a comprehensive set of proposals regarding effective SDG actions on key economic, social and environmental aspects of the SDGs at different levels and sectors (i.e. economic growth, employment and social protection, sustainable energy, industrialization, and innovation that would create positive spillover effects for all other SDGs (Hellenic Republic, 2018).

The Hellenic Statistical System (ELSS) is the set of rules, tasks and competent bodies responsible for the execution of statistical assignments, with the aim of developing, producing and disseminating official statistics. The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) coordinates the system and is responsible for certifying the statistics of the ELSS authorities and organisations. By 2019, line ministries together with ELSTAT, had carried out three rounds of consultations and mapping to identify and select the most adequate indicators for tracking progress at the national level. A list of around 160 indicators (90 selected from the global SDGs indicator framework and 70 from Eurostat adapted to national priorities and circumstances) were selected for quantitative tracking of progress towards the SDGs. At the same time, this emphasis made for more active involvement by the national parliament from a more political and qualitative perspective in the future, allowing for political input and the ‘fine-tuning’ of priorities and a focus on any potential gaps (Hellenic Republic, 2018).  


Hellenic Republic, 2018, Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Hellenic Republic, Greece ( accessed 13 October 2017.

Kalamvrezos, D., 2017, Statement by the Charge d' Affaires at the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN, Hellenic Republic, Greece ( accessed 14 November 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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