Irish response to climate change ‘woefully inadequate’, say NGOs

March held in Dublin to mark two years since signing of Sustainable Development Goals

Coalition 2030 rally in Dublin marking the 2nd anniversary of the signing of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Coalition 2030 rally in Dublin marking the 2nd anniversary of the signing of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland


Ireland’s response to climate change has been “woefully inadequate” while the State is “dramatically off track” in meeting its emission reduction targets, Irish NGOs have warned.

The publication by the Government of a national action plan for implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is long overdue, according to a national alliance of more than 40 Irish social inclusion, development, environment and trade union groups and networks.

Representatives from NGOs across Ireland gathered in Dublin on Monday calling on the State to ensure it meets its commitments under the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), two years after the accord was signed.

The Coalition 2030 alliance called for “national targets and indicators to measure our progress” at a rally and march in Dublin on Monday to mark the second anniversary of the signing of the goals in New York.

The 17 different goals, which replaced the Millennium Development Goals, are designed to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, combat climate change and effectively create a safer, more sustainable world for future generations.

It was an historic turning point for global development, said Suzanne Keatinge, chief executive of Dóchas, the association of non-governmental development organisations.

Activists from Concern, World Vision, Eco-Unesco and the All Together in Dignity group marched from the Rosie Hackett Bridge to the Famine Memorial statues on Custom House Quay on lunchtime on Monday to mark the second anniversary since the adoption of the SDGs.

Those taking part in the Dublin march joined thousands of people holding demonstrations in over 100 locations across the world calling on their governments to follow through on their commitments to the global goals.

“The SDGs represent a transformative agenda – one that commits all of us to eradicating extreme poverty, ending hunger and tackling climate change by 2030. The SDGs are universal and provide a roadmap for all countries – including Ireland – to work towards achieving these goals,” she added.

“The SDGs are based on the understanding that our natural environment, society and economy are all intrinsically interlinked and so for example we cannot eradicate hunger if the natural environment that supports our food production is being decimated by a focus on narrow economic objectives,” said Michael Ewing, coordinator of the environmental pillar

Valerie Duffy of Development Education and the National Youth Council of Ireland said: “Two years on, it is time for the Irish Government to put the words of the SDGs into action. We need strong, principled leadership to champion these goals at a national level. We urgently need an all-of-government approach to drive this agenda.”

She added: “We hope that this second anniversary will signify an important shift in the Government’s approach... It’s particularly urgent now, as Ireland is due to present its voluntary national review on our progress on the SDGs at the UN in July 2018.”

The All Together in Dignity Ireland group said Budget 2018 should set aside funding for the organisation, facilitation and stakeholder support of a one year process leading to the drafting of the Irish National Agenda 2030 Action Plan. It also called for a large citizen consultation on ways to fulfil the ‘Leave No One Behind’ promise.

“The 17 SDGs and the historic ‘Leave No One Behind’ promise are of critical importance,” said Pierre Klein, ATD co-ordinator, “but we will only be successful in implementing the global goals if we manage to involve people living in poverty and gain the active support of all citizens who act for a different society.”

Niamh Garvey, head of policy and advocacy with Trócaire, said the Government urgently needed to take real steps in climate change to ensure the goals are achieved within the next 13 years. “Ireland’s own action on climate change has been woefully inadequate - we are dramatically off track for meeting our emission reduction targets,” said Ms Garvey. “We urgently call upon Minister (for climate action) Denis Naughten to strengthen the ambition and delivery of the National Mitigation Plan as a sign of Ireland’s intention to deliver on the SDGs.”

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the 2030 Agenda, are a set of universal goals which replaced the Millennium Development Goals. They are designed to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and combat climate change by 2030.

193 world leaders committed to the 17 goals and 169 subsidiary targets in September 2015.

Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs are seen as universal and apply to all countries.

The 2030 goals are not legally binding which means the United Nation’s role in their implementation is that of a facilitator rather than enforcer.

Implementation of the Global goals formally began on January 1st, 2016.

The 17 goals include an end to poverty in all its forms, an end to hunger, achieving gender equality for all women and girls, reducing inequality within and among countries, and promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.