Poland country profile - SDGs and the environment

Briefing Published 02 Dec 2020 Last modified 02 Dec 2020
Poland`s SDG actions focus on the ‘5ps’ in the 2030 Agenda (people, planet, prosperity, peace, partnership). Across the country, SDG action is supported by national strategies, with a formal procedure for concluding and adopting them. From an environmental perspective, the country strives to improve the state of the environment and sustainable management of resources.

In achieving SDGs with an environmental dimension, Poland focuses primarily on SDGs 2, 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13 and 15.

Under the planet cluster, improving air quality in Polish cities remains a priority (SDGs 3, 11). Objectives also include achieving high water quality (SDG 6); protecting the soil against degradation (SDG 15); reducing the impact of noise and electromagnetic fields on society (SDG 3); as well as increasing available water resources (SDG 6); the sustainable management of terrestrial resources (SDG 15); and ensuring efficient waste management (SDG 12) (Government of Poland, 2018). 

A boost for the implementation of the environmental SDGs was the agreement on and adoption of the 2030 National Environmental Policy – the Development Strategy in the Area of the Environment and Water Management, setting several environmental priorities. Moreover, citizens have become more environmentally conscious in recent years – protecting air quality and climate change have been gaining interest. In addition, a new Ministry of Climate (MoC) was established to operate independently of the Ministry of Environment. The MoC is responsible for climate action and sustainable development issues. Sustainable water management was also transferred from the Ministry of Environment to the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation. 

Poland has also identified areas which require further action. For example, since its energy policy has yet to be updated, this has become a priority for the current MoC (SDG 7). SDGs’ visibility and their recognition tends to be limited to experts. As regards sustainable cities (SDG 11), the main objective is to improve the quality of life and support cities in their transition towards sustainability and climate neutrality. Air quality remains another priority. The clean air programme is being amended to boost the number of investments across the country. Moreover, actions have been undertaken to improve the waste-management system and support the e-mobility sector. A reduction in GHG emissions will be pursued within financial instruments such as ‘My electricity’, ‘Agro-energy’ and ‘Polish Geothermy Plus’. New regulations to improve and harmonise the process of preparing the acoustic maps and environmental protection plans have also been introduced, although better coordination is needed both at the national and local level to consolidate all noise data and decisions. 

Business, private institutions, scientific and research institutions, and non-governmental organisations were included in activities aimed at developing various government strategies on SDG action with an environmental dimension. Stakeholder engagement activities included mainly consultations and workshops. For example, for the purpose of developing the 2030 National Environmental Policy, a consultation conference was organised and an online questionnaire launched. The consultation proved popular among civil society organisations. In 2017, the Ministry of Economic Development initiated the Partnership for the SDGs, inviting all stakeholders to share their experiences and activities on SDGs. Signatories to the Partnership undertake and communicate a number of initiatives, including in the area of the environment, such as striving for the highest standards of environmental protection; innovative ways of introducing the principles of the circular economy;  reducing the consumption of water and other resources; environmentally safe processing and transport of raw materials; projects aiming to reduce pollution, waste and the consumption of raw materials; support for school and educational institutions in the field of environmental education; as well as the development of vehicles based on clean energy and fuel-saving practices. 

Within the Urban Agenda (SDG11), the MoC has planned to organise 16 regional workshops to discuss how to create greener cities, bringing together stakeholders from civil society organisations, academia and local governments. Social participation played a significant role in the development of ‘Urban Adaptation Plans for cities with more than 100 000 inhabitants in Poland’ project (SDGs 11, 13). The project’s main, in partnership with the 44 major Polish cities, was to assess their sensitivity and vulnerability to climate change and to develop priority adaptation measures adequate for the risks identified for each city (Government of Poland, 2018). 

Other partnerships have also been created and developed, including the UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre SDG Partnership ‘Together for the environment’. It initiates and implements projects addressing those SDGs with an environmental dimension. It was created to exchange ideas, experiences and good practices and build broad cooperation to achieve SDGs. Partnership activities are focused on education and raising awareness. Many different stakeholders are involved, including companies, associations of companies and chambers of commerce, research and development institutions, public administration, central and local government, non-governmental organisations, and informal initiatives as well as individuals (GRID-Warsaw in Partnership with UN Environment, 2018). 

Poland not only prioritises the achievement of individual goals, but also the interactions between them. To increase the effectiveness of achieving the SDGs, the country recognises the importance of education for sustainable development, effective monitoring systems, and policy coherence. It also considers that more clarity is required as regards the role of different international and European institutions in the SDGs process along with streamlining their actions (Government of Poland, 2018).

Poland submitted a VNR to the UN in 2018.

The Council of Ministers sets out the overall sustainable development objectives and policies. Sector-specific bodies coordinate different aspects of Poland’s development strategy, including the Economic Committee of the Council of Ministers (economic policy) and the Social Committee of the Council of Ministers (social issues). The Ministry of Economic Development is responsible for coordination of the 2030 Agenda. An important body under the institutional mechanism is the Coordination Committee for Development Policy, one of the prime minister’s advisory bodies. Line ministries are involved in SDG actions within their relevant areas of competence. A special Task Force for Coherence between the Strategy for Responsible Development and the 2030 Agenda was created within the Coordination Committee to prioritise the SDG targets, and facilitate dialogue and collaboration related to the 2030 Agenda and the VNR (Government of Poland, 2018). 

Statistics Poland oversees data collection and both the provision and creation of indicators to track SDG progress. To assess progress towards the SDGs on the global level, it coordinates the provision of data for the official UN indicators. It developed SDG indicators to track the realisation of national SDG priorities, defined by the Polish government in 2018. To complement the VNR report submitted to the UN in 2018, Statistics Poland prepared the publication ‘A picture of Poland: Statistics for SDGs’, introducing foreign readers to Poland and its role in achieving the SDGs (Statistics Poland, 2018).


Government of Poland, 2018, Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Poland: The 2018 National Report, Ministry of Development, Warsaw, Poland, accessed 27 January 2019.

GRID-Warsaw in Partnership with UN Environment, 2018, ‘Partnership for Common Implementation of Environment-related Sustainable Development Goals’, UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre, Warsaw, Poland, accessed 4 April 2020. 

Republic of Poland, 2016, Agenda 2030 na rzecz zrównoważonego rozwoju - implementacja w Polsce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Warsaw, Poland, accessed 27 November 2017. 

Statistics Poland, 2018, A picture of Poland. Statistics for SDGs, Statistics Poland, Warsaw, Poland, accessed 20 March 2019.

UN DESA, 2018, ‘Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform – Documents and Reports’, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, USA, accessed 29 November 2019.


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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