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Sustainable Development Goals

One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic ‘deep freeze’ it has resulted in has been a large reduction in harmful emissions.  This reduction while welcome is only temporary.  The challenge is to ensure that investment in our recovery also supports progress to our climate commitments.

The COVID-19 crisis will impose its heaviest tolls on the most vulnerable, nationally and internationally.  Our recovery must look beyond pure economic growth to a more sustainable society for all.

The COVID-19 crisis will impose its heaviest tolls on the most vulnerable. It is understandable that national leaders are focused on tackling this crisis in their own backyards, but countries must find the space for supporting other nations too, if humanity is to successfully defeat this disease. It is therefore incumbent on rich world countries to help poorer countries. It is also in rich countries’ interests to think and act globally as well as locally.

The World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the Lancet Commission have just published a landmark report on the need to place children at the centre of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The report finds that despite dramatic improvements in survival, nutrition, and education over recent decades, today’s children face an uncertain future. Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices threaten the health and future of children in every country. 

Watch the videos from our 2020 Global Justice Day Seminar here. Professor Charles Clark of St John's University in New York and Colette Bennett, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland, launched our Sustainable Progress Index 2020.

Ireland ranks 10th out of 15 comparable EU countries in this year’s Sustainable Progress Index, commissioned by Social Justice Ireland.  The index comprises three dimensions: economy, society and environment.  Ireland is ranked 11th out of the 15 countries on the economy dimension.  On the social index, Ireland is in the middle of the ranking, in 7th place.  Ireland, however, scores last on the environment index which suggests we are facing significant challenges in meeting our environmental targets.  

Measuring Progress: Sustainable Progress Index 2020 ranks 15 comparable EU countries based on their delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Written by Prof. Charles M.A. Clark of St John’s University, NY, Dr. Catherine Kavanagh of UCC, and Niamh Lenihan of CIT, the index compares 15 EU countries across all UN SDGs, assesses their performance on each individual SDG and creates a ranking table for performance overall. 

Ireland is one of the highest greenhouse gas emitters in the EU and we have the highest levels of emissions from agriculture.  We are failing in the necessary planning, services and infrastructure to ensure communities, towns and villages across all regions can adapt to changes that required to move to a more sustainable future.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Sustainability for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

While Ireland faces a number of challenges, including deficits in our public services and infrastructure, unacceptable rates of poverty, and high national debt, it is important to remember that many people in the world face a far worse situation.  It is important that Ireland plays an active and effective part in promoting sustainable development in the Global South and that all of Ireland’s policies are consistent with such development.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Global South and ODA for an outline of a number of key challenges and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

We have declared a climate emergency and we are a self-confessed laggard on climate change.  But despite all the talk, where is the action?  The 2019 Emissions Gap Report just published by the UN Environment Programme outlines just how serious the situation is.  But it also points to actions that can be implemented.  The time for talking about climate action is over, Government needs to start implementing policy to bring about real change. 

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