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Minister Denis Naughten address to the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2018 HLPF) - 19th meeting

Live UN weblink Minister Naughten is due to deliver his speech between 4.30pm and 5.00pm Irish time. (This may vary slightly due to scheduling)



Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


I thought we should start by hearing the voices of Ireland's young people, because issues at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals, such as quality education, a clean environment, economic opportunity, and peaceful and inclusive societies, all impact on young peoples' quality of life today, as well as in the future. 


So, as we implement the Goals, we owe it to those young people to demonstrate not only ambition, but also urgency. 


Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 requires action now.


Ireland is proud of our role in the SDGs' creation, through the work of our former Ambassador David Donoghue who, together with his co-facilitator from Kenya, Ambassador Macharia Kamau, convinced the global community to agree to the most ambitious set of commitments in UN history.


But as proud as we are of what has already been achieved, we need to do more.


Ireland has therefore adopted a 'whole-of-Government' approach to the SDGs. 


The Taoiseach, Ireland's Prime Minister, is centrally involved, and every Government Minister has responsibility for implementing specific Goals and Targets. 


As Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, I have specific responsibility for coordinating SDG implementation across Government.


This year, I launched Ireland's 1st SDG National Implementation Plan, which focuses on raising public awareness and engagement, and aligning Ireland's national policies with the Goals. 


The Plan sets out how Ireland will fully implement the SDGs at home, and contribute to their achievement globally. It also underlines our commitment under the SDGs to Leaving No One Behind and reaching the furthest behind first.


One of the Plan's key actions was the establishment of a national SDG Stakeholder Forum, which had its first meeting last month.


This Forum should be a venue for genuine dialogue between stakeholders and Government, where we can work together to develop innovative approaches to implementing the SDGs, and also challenge each other to deliver on the transformative ambition of the Goals. 


We will all have to leave our comforts zones, if we are to achieve a just transition that recognises the needs of all our people, sectors and communities.


I was responsible for producing this Voluntary National Review, but this has also been a whole-of-Government process. 


For me, the most exciting aspect of the SDGs is the way they force Governments and ministries to break away from the old 'silo thinking' that says 'this is someone else's problem', or worse, 'we have no solutions'. 


What the SDG's are really about is getting Governments and society to think and act differently. It's not about ideology it's about implementation, in real and practical terms. That ultimately is our goal. 


Reaching the 17 Goals will only be achieved by breaking down traditional policy silos and developing new transparent partnership with stakeholders so that everyone in society can contribute to making the SDGs a reality.


This Review addresses Ireland's response to all 17 of the SDGs and, using almost 100 statistical indicators, assesses Ireland's performance under each Goal. 


It also addresses how Ireland is supporting the SDGs globally.


The Review includes a national Policy Map which shows how Ireland is addressing each of the 169 SDG targets.


I hope that this can highlight some of the innovative economic, social and environmental policies which Ireland has adopted. 


But we have been equally transparent about where we need to perform better. 


The Review confirms that Ireland's has a thriving economy but that we still have work to do in order to be the kind of truly sustainable society that we want our children to grow up in, and where we ourselves want to grow old. 


Specifically, the Review identifies Ireland's strengths in relation to educationhealtheconomic growthinnovation, some environmental issues such as air quality, and a peaceful and safe society


However, we also face challenges in many areas, including addressing high levels of obesity, meeting our own national poverty targets, achieving sustainable consumption and production, protecting our marine and terrestrial habitats, and achieving full gender equality in Irish society.


Two major challenges for Ireland relate to housing and climate action.


The Government has acknowledged pressures on the housing supply, and the consequent increasing house prices and rents.  The level of homelessness is one of our most pressing challenges currently facing Ireland and the Review addresses this in detail. It sets out the Government's response through its Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness - Rebuilding Ireland.  For example, we are determined as a Government to increase Ireland's stock of social housing by 50,000 homes by 2021, with the necessary funding being ring-fenced to achieve this.


As Minister with responsibility for Climate Action, I have been forthright in saying that, as a country, Ireland is playing catch-up on our obligations in relation to climate change.


But this year the Government adopted an ambitious overarching policy initiative, Project Ireland 2040, to make Ireland a better country for all our people, a country that reflects the best of who we are and what we aspire to be, and builds on our objectives as a country to deliver on the SDGs


It includes a new National Planning Framework and a 10-year National Development Programme, which provides for nearly €116 billion of capital investment, that's 4% of Irish GDP.


And one fifth of that, that's 0.8% of Ireland's GDP, €22 billion, will be spent on a climate focused investment plan. 


Project Ireland 2040 also includes a Climate Action fund in excess of €500m, which is €126 for every person in our country, making it the biggest per capita fund of its type in the world. 


This fund is a blank canvas; I believe it will stimulate innovative ideas and deliver concrete projects that will contribute towards Ireland's climate and energy targets, while also addressing fuel poverty. 


Project Ireland 2040 represents a step-change in Ireland's approach to investment, both in the scale of our ambition and the funding that we're making available as a Government to meet the challenges Ireland faces. 


As such it will be central to our achievement of the SDGs at home.


Of course we will also continue to support the Goals globally, through partnerships, especially in Africa and with small island developing states, and in multilateral fora. 

Today we face shared global challenges that require shared solutions.  


Ireland will play our part in these solutions, from our facilitation of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in 2016, to our role as Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women. 


I am announcing that Ireland will provide €1.2 million to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification to support the further development of the Great Green Wall initiative in Africa.


I am also committing €800,000 to support the UN Climate Change Convention in delivering its capacity building programmes, with a focus on gender impacts of climate change. 


I will be making further announcements on Ireland's climate finance support later in 2018. 


We are a strong and consistent champion for disarmament and the need to restrict the use of nuclear weapons. This is why we are seeking election to the UN Security Council in 2020.

Our international development cooperation and our humanitarian action, along with our work at the UN on human rights, peacekeeping, disarmament and security, is at the heart of our efforts to create a more secure, stable and inclusive world. 


Our own history of famine, conflict and migration propels Ireland's international outreach and engagement. 


This is why our aid, when it is provided, is 100% untied.

Ireland will produce a new international development policy in 2018. Our ambition is to continue to deliver upon collective aspirations for a better world as set out in the SDGs. Our new policy will prioritise: 


'Leave No One Behind', particularly for women and girls, with interventions on gender equality, peace, education, sexual and reproductive health, and on nutrition and sustainable agriculture will be central. 

Doubling our global footprint, and expanding our development cooperation to include West and North Africa. We will also be able to do more in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Small Island Developing States.  

And making sustainable progress towards achieving the 0.7% UN target by 2030.

Irish influence throughout the SDG negotiations stands as an example of our commitment to a better world. 


We are determined to show the same global leadership in the implementation of the SDGs.


This Review is an important milestone on Ireland's journey to 2030, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to the Global Goals and the scope of the work ahead of us.


Now I will conclude as I started, by drawing attention to the importance of youth voices and inviting Ireland's UN Youth Delegates to address the Forum.


Thank You.


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