Government set outs ‘ambitious vision’ to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals

New plans sets out to implement 19 actions to by 2020 with all goals to be achieved by 2030

Denis Naughten: ‘The SDGs challenge every country to make a clean break with business as usual.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Denis Naughten: ‘The SDGs challenge every country to make a clean break with business as usual.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins


The Government has set out “an ambitious vision for how Ireland will fully achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at home by 2030”, according to Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten.

The SDGs are designed to end extreme poverty and hunger, fight inequality and injustice, and combat climate change by 2030.

Speaking on Thursday at the Institute for International and European Affairs in Dublin, Mr Naughten said a national implementation plan on SDGs requires a new level of co-operation across Government departments and sets out 19 actions to be implemented by 2020.

It also spells out which ministers are responsible for what elements of the SDGs, and how existing policies relate to the goals.

“The Sustainable Development Goals will challenge all of us, Government, civil society and the private sector, every day between now and 2030,” said Mr Naughten who has lead responsibility for promoting and overseeing their adoption.

“The SDGs challenge every country to make a clean break with business as usual, to embrace the sort of transformative changes needed to achieve a sustainable global future by 2030.”

The plan also demonstrates Ireland’s ongoing support for their implementation around the world, particularly through the work of the overseas development co-operation programme through Irish Aid, he said.

It commits to raising awareness of the SDGs; providing stakeholders with opportunities to participate in national implementation of the SDGs and supporting communities and organisations to make their own contributions toward achieving the goals.

“The national implementation plan is the framework for how Government will put all 17 SDGs into action. . .it forces Government and the public service to think differently. The SDGs are the responsibility of all of us,” added Mr Naughten, who is due to present Ireland’s first SDG national progress report to the UN in July.

“The ‘it’s not my job’ culture won’t work if we are to achieve our objectives. We must bring the public and key players such as NGOs, with us if we are to deliver the SDGs. We are now at a very exciting point in the development of our country as a big community rather than a big economy.”

Welcome from civil society

Coalition 2030, an alliance of 100 civil society groups, welcomed the State’s plan to implement the SDGs into Government policy by 2030.

Recalling Government leadership shown at the international level in bringing into being Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, it called for urgent implementation of the plan.

“We welcome the plan’s statement that the State will be ‘mainstreaming’ the SDGs across all of its policies to achieve this transformative agenda by the end of the next decade,” it said.

“Delivering on the SDGs should be an integral part of all budgets starting with Budget 2019 onwards and coupled with a national investment plan.”

Coalition 2030 called for prompt establishment of the stakeholder forum to ensure meaningful public engagement to begin implementation of a SDG agenda. Public participation was crucial to policy making and hugely important in terms of ownership, understanding, and action on the SDGs, the coalition said.

Environmental Pillar co-ordinator Michael Ewing said the plan was welcome in driving re-alignment of current Government plans, policies and strategies, “but there isn’t a clear sense of doing anything significantly different both in terms of the ways of working as well as resourcing to deliver the SDGs.”

“At the heart of Agenda 2030 is a commitment to ‘leaving no-one behind’; a commitment which Ireland championed during the negotiation at the UN. In the implementation of the plan this focus must continue to inform Ireland’s actions and ambitions” said Concern’s head of advocacy Olive Towey.

Yvonne O’ Callaghan of the trade union Siptu said Ireland as one of the richest countries in the world had 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’s possible to combine economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.”