Portugal country profile - SDGs and the environment

Briefing Published 02 Dec 2020 Last modified 02 Dec 2020
Portugal incorporates the 2030 Agenda into its national strategies, plans and policies around the ‘5ps’ (people, planet, prosperity, peace, partnership). It identifies its priorities for SDG action with an environmental dimension as climate change (SDG 13) and life below water (SDG 14).

As it considers economic growth, social development and climate change adaptation and mitigation to be interlinked with sustainable industry and technological progress, it also prioritises SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure). Portugal’s ‘Action Plan for a Circular Economy’ is key to the necessary new sustainable society model (SDG 12) (Republic of Portugal). 

Portugal identifies SDGs 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 17 as environmental priority areas.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Action defined its action strategy based on three key pillars: promoting the circularity of the economy (SDG 12); when valuing the nature in land (SDG 15); and being on track to carbon neutrality (SDG 13). The Ministry reinforced the intersectoral and cross-cutting environmental public policy with a permanent dialogue with all stakeholders and several levels of the administration, enabling a continuous evaluation to better optimise the appropriate level of SDG actions. Therefore, the country also considers partnerships (SDG17) are essential and key for environmental action.

Portugal attaches importance to breaking the silos within and among government and other public institutions, at both the national and local level, as well as engaging with civil society in this process. The important level of public awareness, namely with NGOs, academia or local authorities’ interventions, oblige complete transparency in actions and guarantees permanent public evaluation by the media. Pre-existing social and political structures and processes on sustainable development as well as strong political support and active civil society engagement have enabled Portugal to respond to most of the SDG targets. 

Portugal submitted a VNR to the UN in 2017. 

In 2016, the Portuguese Council of Ministers adopted Intra-Governmental Guidelines for the 2030 Agenda and established the Focal Point Network comprising representatives from different public institutions. Within this structure, each ministry was designated as being responsible for the relevant SDGs. In 2016, when this coordination mechanism was created, the Ministry of Environment was appointed as responsible for SDGs 6, 11, 12 and 13. A public consultation on SDG action at the national and local level also took place that year, along with an online survey intended to reach a wider audience and provide an opportunity for every citizen to participate (Republic of Portugal, 2017). 

In line with existing practice in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action, the 2030 Agenda adoption has improved all the ministry’s partners awareness of the interdependency of sectorial and regional policies, smoothing the necessary common decision-making processes. The main environmental instruments have benefitted from this new vision, allowing more extensive intersectoral and public discussions and improved ownership of the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality, the Action Plan for a Circular Economy, the National Plan for Energy and Climate, the National Program for Spatial Planning, and the National Strategy for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity.

The country’s baseline analysis on SDG progress began with the collection of data and information in relation to the SDGs (Republic of Portugal, 2017). As a result, the National Statistical Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estatística) mapped the available information and identified the most appropriate sources of indicators for tracking SDGs progress. The next step for the government includes the consolidation of this work, improving the robustness of the existing indicators, developing calculation methods for the missing indicators, the possibility of introducing qualitative indicators (Republic of Portugal, 2017).


Republic of Portugal, 2017, National report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Republic of Portugal, accessed 28 November 2017.


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