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Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals aim to leave no one behind. With minimal progress on these in recent years, Budget 2020 reinforces Ireland's position as a laggard.

What role can Local Authorities play in Ireland's progress towards the SDGs?  Can small changes really make a big difference?  We believe that they can.  In this SDG Policy Briefing developed as part of the DEAR project, we set out some of the changes that Local Authorities could implement to create a more sustainable Ireland.

The UN Climate Action Summit 2019 begins in New York today.  The purpose of the summit is for countries who signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 to bring concrete, realistic and effective plans to meet 2020 targets and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent in the next ten years.  What plan does Ireland have to fully transform the economy in line with the sustainable development goals?

Ireland has signed up to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and is committed to legally binding climate commitments in 2020 and 2030.  We have a national commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 yet we spend up to €4 billion every year on potentially environmentally damaging subsidies.

In the Sustainability edition of our National Social Monitor,  we assess whether current policy on sustainability encompasses the three pillars of environment, society and economy and make proposals on how to transition towards a sustainable future. 

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report on Climate Change and Land raises some significant issues for Ireland, and in particular our policies on food production and land management.

A sustainable economy would involve transformative change and policies. The ‘circular economy’ theory is based on the understanding that it is the reuse of vast amounts of material reclaimed from end of life products, rather than the extraction of new resources, that is the foundation of economic growth.  In July 2019, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation launched its paper – Realising the opportunities for enterprise in the bioeconomy and circular economy in Ireland, which considers the impact of transitioning to more sustainable practices to provide solutions to ‘issues ranging from climate change, to pollution, to economic and regional development’.

The Government has just launched a new initiative to track Ireland’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the SDG Hub.  The SDG Hub is a Geosite – a website developed in collaboration with Ordinance Survey Ireland, the Central Statistics Office and Esri Ireland – and contains a lot of useful data and information on the SDGs and how Ireland is measuring them.  This work complements the Sustainable Progress Index produced each year by Social Justice Ireland, and the call for open source data to fill the gaps which remain in creating a full picture of the SDGs echoes our call to the Minister last year.

The OECD is seeking public comments on the draft Recommendation on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (PCSD).  The format of the consultation is a short survey (5 questions) and the deadline for submissions is Friday, 28th June 2019.  Social Justice Ireland has published extensively on Ireland's progress towards the SDGs.  To support you to make your submission, we have collated our most recent work in this area in one place.  Please click 'Read More' to access the latest from Social Justice Ireland on Ireland and the SDGs.

The Climate Action Plan 2019 contains many welcome policy recommendations, the challenge will be to implement them in a manner that is fair and that protects those who will be most impacted.  Budget 2020 must put the national interest ahead of short-term sectoral interests if Government is serious about delivering on the Climate Action Plan 2019.