Time to renew global solidarity pledges

 

Sir, – As the incoming taoiseach Leo Varadkar has outlined, in the face of Brexit, Ireland must increase its global presence. But this will demand leadership based on the values of global solidarity, peace and justice, and not just on trade and investment opportunities.

Ireland has already played a strong leadership role in relation to international development – particularly through our co-chairing of the UN negotiations that led to the agreement of the sustainable development goals in September 2015. The goals are a blueprint from which all nations have a responsibility to shape their economic, social and environmental policies and programmes in order to eradicate poverty, address growing inequality, and meet climate targets.

Until now, this transformative agenda, which Ireland helped to shape, has not been met by the urgency and ambition that are required if we are to progress this agenda at national level. I hope that under Mr Varadkar’s leadership we will see a much more concerted effort at all levels of government, and that overall responsibility for delivering on these commitments, both here and overseas, will be taken on by Mr Varadkar himself, and by the Department of the Taoiseach.

Dóchas has welcomed the commitment by Mr Varadkar during his leadership campaign to meet Ireland’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) on overseas development assistance (ODA). However, this commitment must now be solidified with a published multiannual plan to reach the 0.7 per cent goal by 2025, at the very latest. In 2016, Ireland spent only 0.33 per cent of GNI on ODA, down from a height of 0.59 per cent in 2008. We must see a practical commitment to financing development, holding firm to Ireland’s proud record of delivering a quality aid programme across the globe.

Ireland can also be a world leader on climate change. It is more important than ever following Donald Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw the United States from its commitments under the Paris agreement.

Commitments from Mr Varadkar to be a champion for the sustainable development goals, to increase Ireland’s overseas development assistance budget, and for us to step up on our commitments on climate change would offer a strong signal of the Government’s intention to increase its global footprint. I hope that we will not be left disappointed. – Yours, etc,

SUZANNE KEATINGE,

Chief Executive,

Dóchas,

Pleasants Street, Dublin 8.