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Civil Society coalition criticises Ireland's progress on UN sustainable development goals

Coalition 2030, an alliance of over 100 Irish civil society organisations and networks which includes Social Justice Ireland, today expressed concern that Ireland is falling behind on its commitment to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The coalition outlined its concerns in a report published as the Irish Government prepares to present its first progress report on the SDGs at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday today.

In its report, Coalition 2030 acknowledges the tremendous role played by the Irish Government in getting global agreement on the SDGs and the progress it has made to date to map progress towards the goals. However, Coalition 2030 warns that there are significant gaps in the Government’s National Implementation Plan for the SDGs launched by Minister Denis Naughten in April.

Much greater urgency and political leadership will be required if we are to ensure the transformative change that the SDGs envisage by 2030. The Government needs to develop a realistic costing and prioritise targets and outcomes, but also involve all stakeholders, particularly civil society, in that process. Only then will we meet the ambition of the SDGs which is to make sure that the needs of the poorest and most marginalised in society, at home and abroad, are met sustainably and for future generations.

Coalition 2030 calls for greater focus on developing national policies to support the implementation of the SDGs. Arguably the greatest threat to Ireland’s implementation of the SDGs is a pronounced lack of policy coherence. Greater focus has to be placed on the inter linkages between the 17 Goals which makes them so transformative. This issue is particularly manifest in Ireland’s poor performance in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and failure to stem the downward spiral in Ireland’s biodiversity. As part of the National SDGs Implementation Plan, the government, in consultation with the National Economic and Social Council, should strengthen a whole-of-government approach to the SDGs.

Ireland's performance on the Sustainable Development Goals is particularly bad on environment and inequalities. This emphasises the need for Government to put these SDGs at the centre of policy formation across the board. Much of what Ireland is doing is damaging people, the economy or the environment. Ireland needs much more committed action to build a future consistent with the SDGs.

Ireland, as one of the richest countries in the world, has to do better and move faster than most in meeting SDG targets. Ireland has the potential to be the best performer on every single goal, showing that it is possible to combine economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. This report shows we have a long way to go in terms of leaving nobody behind.

To achieve the SDGs we also need education for transformative change. We need education that enables all people to participate meaningfully, to critically engage in sustainable development, and to imagine and create new futures. This is a central part of SDG 12, which is under review at this year’s High Level Political Forum. Goal 12 requires Member States to mainstream Global Citizenship Education and Education for Sustainable Development.

Dialogue with stakeholders is absolutely essential and we need everybody working together all the way from the State down to the grassroots movements if we are to achieve these goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals, which reflect the totally intertwined economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.  All UN member states committed to using them to frame their national agendas and political policies to reach the targets by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are therefore an essential framework to guide the future direction of Irish domestic and foreign policy, as well as the development of a healthy and sustainable society and economy in Ireland.

Coalition 2030’s report is available here.