Coalition 2030 SDG 'Shadow Report' Launch
Royal College of Physicians, Kildare St, Dublin 2
Wednesday 21st November
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Goals (SDGs) represent the most wide-ranging and transformative agreement ever reached by the international community, and respond to the interwoven economic, social and environmental challenges facing the world today.
The SDG require action and ambition, but they also require new ways of thinking, because the SDGs address the basic reality that many of the social, economic and environmental challenges which we face today require common, integrated, solutions.
Ireland is proud to have played a leading part in the 2030 Agenda negotiations, through our role as co-facilitator. We recognised then, and recognise now, the urgent need to chart a course towards achieving a sustainable future.
We want continue demonstrating leadership in relation to the SDGs as they are implemented, both domestically and globally through our overseas development Irish Aid programmes.
The Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020, launched in April 2018, demonstrates a clear commitment by Ireland to fully implement the SDGs.
The Plan sets out Ireland's vision of how we 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.
Ireland has adopted a 'whole-of-government' approach to implementing the SDGs, with clear roles for every Government Department and overall political oversight provided through the Cabinet.
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment has specific responsibility for coordinating SDG implementation across Government.
In addition, all Government Ministers have been assigned individual responsibility for achieving specific Goals and Targets.
Assigning responsibility for specific targets to individual Ministers, and mapping national policies against the SDGs as we have also done, provides for both transparency and accountability, and underlines our commitment to 'mainstreaming' the SDGs across Government.
We saw an example of this mainstreaming earlier this month, when Minister Zappone hosted a workshop on the 'Sustainable Development Goals through the Lens of the Child'.
But the SDGs are about more than the work of government policies.
And achieving the SDGs requires, not just a 'whole-of-government', but a 'whole-of-society' response.
The SDGs belong to everyone in society. Ireland is therefore putting stakeholders from across civil society and the private sector at the heart of our SDG strategies, not just as observers but as partners.
This is why, under the National Implementation Plan, there is a focus on raising public awareness, engagement and participation around the SDGs.
One of the most important actions under the Plan was the establishment of a national SDG Stakeholder Forum.
The Forum has already met twice this year and its next meeting is already scheduled for the end of January 2019.
The Forum should be a venue for genuine and robust dialogue between all stakeholders and Government, where we can work together to develop
Sometime that dialogue will be challenging for all of us.
But that is only to be expected if we are to spur each other on to deliver on the transformative ambition of the SDGs.
Achieving the SDGs will challenge governments, civil society and the private sector to work together towards a common goal, and Ireland is lucky to have so many civil society organisations that are committed to that work.
I know that Coalition 2030 in particular are in regular contact with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment about the SDGs.
And I know that the Department values your constructive engagement, and the work that your members are carrying out in so many communities around the country.
In July this year Ireland presented its first official progress report on the SDGs to the United Nations.
This report, formally known as a Voluntary National Review or VNR, covered Ireland's performance against all 17 of the Goals.
Ireland's two UN Youth Delegates also took part in Ireland's official presentation and addressed the UN audience on the relevance of the SDGs to Ireland's children and young people.
Our VNR highlighted where Ireland is doing well in relation to the SDGs, but was equally frank about where we need to perform better.
The confirmed that Ireland's has a thriving economy but that we still have work to do to become a truly sustainable society.
Specifically, the VNR identified Ireland's strengths in relation to education, health, economic growth, innovation, some environmental issues such as air quality, and the enjoyment of 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.
The VNR dealt in detail with two major challenges for Ireland, namely housing and climate action.
The Government has acknowledged pressures on housing supply, and the consequent increasing house prices and rents and the high incidence of homelessness as one of the most pressing challenges currently facing Ireland.
The VNR discussed these issues and set out 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.
On Climate Action, the VNR was forthright in saying that, as a country, Ireland is playing catch-up on our obligations in relation to climate change.
Minister Bruton in his speech at the 2018 Climate Innovation Summit, in Dublin Castle earlier this month, said that he want to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change, not a follower.
As the Minister said that will require a significant step change across government.
Being a leader means acting now, stretching ourselves and seizing the enterprise opportunities in a low carbon economy, including the new circular and bioeconomies.
Being a follower means the final costs of adjustment are much higher and opportunities much lower or completely lost.
This requires a clear mandate to integrate the demands of climate action into the decision making of all regulatory systems and programme evaluation across government.
Project Ireland 2040, and the ten year National Development Plan which underpins it, is the first time an Irish Government has ever attempted to ensure that future growth is compact, connected, regionally balanced and sustainable.
Implementing this vision, and ensuring that the capital investments which are made, deliver that integrated vision will be a crucial challenge which we must crack.
How we roll out this €116 billion investment [and in particular the €30 billion on Climate Action and Sustainable Transport] can create a profound shift in behaviour patterns.
In addition the Government have launched a Climate Action Fund of €500m which invites applications in a competitive process from projects generating significant CO2 reduction in innovative and cost effective ways capable of being scaled up.
The VNR also discussed how Ireland is supporting the global achievement of all 17 of the SDGs, particularly through our international development cooperation and our humanitarian action,
In addition our work at the UN on human rights, peacekeeping, disarmament and security, is at the heart of Ireland's efforts to create a more secure, stable and inclusive world.
In our VNR presentation, Ireland highlighted that our international development policy will prioritise the 'Leave No One Behind', particularly for women and girls.
Ireland is fully committed to implementing the SDGs in a way that is transparent and which seeks to share, but also learn from, international best practice.
The Government has therefore already committed to producing its next detail national report on SDG progress in 2020, and two years after that will present its second Voluntary National Review to the United Nations in 2022.
As I have said already, the SDGs are hugely ambitious and hugely challenging. Tackling Climate Change, eradicating global poverty, ending discrimination and achieving gender equality, these are all global challenges that require joined up thinking and concerted action.
And the challenge is one all of us, Government, legislators, civil society and the private sector, need to meet today and every day until 2030.
There is hard work ahead of us, and success can often seem too far off.
But as I stand here today with all of you, I am confident if we work together we can achieve that peaceful, sustainable world that the SDGs represent and that we want for ourselves, and our children, and for generations to come.