A new report from an alliance of over 100 Irish civil society groups has criticised the Irish Government’s commitment to bring policy in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Coalition 2030 report was released this morning ahead of the Minister for Climate Action, Denis Naughten’s presentation Ireland’s first review on steps the State have taken to implement the SDGs at a high-level UN forum.
Heads of State and Ministers from 193 countries are attending the meeting in New York to review the implementation of the goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all people by 2030.
Ireland is one of 47 countries that volunteered to present their review at the event. Speaking this morning, Mr Naughten outlined the role of the goals to achieve a “safer, fairer, sustainable, and more prosperous” world, adding that he is focused on ensuring that the goals are implemented in Ireland.
While acknowledging the “tremendous role” played by the Irish Government in getting global agreement on the SDGs, more work is needed, especially in the areas of climate action and environmental protection, the Coalition 2030 report states. Ireland’s National Mitigation Plan is criticized in the report for a lack of clear targets, while the National Implementation Plan on SDGs launched in April is said to have too many “significant” gaps between our ambition to act and actual implementation.
The Coalition report always points to the need for more ambitious solutions to tackle transport and agriculture emissions, the promotion of alternative and less polluting agriculture practices and a ban on the use of fossil fuels.
The report states that Government’s review also fails to address overfishing and destructive practices created by Ireland’s fishing industry. Ireland “topped the league table” for setting fishing quotas above scientific advice, a recent report by New Economics Foundation found.
The report also calls for the State to review current policies on agriculture and forestry to ensure that they coherent with environmental goals.
Michael Ewing, the coordinator of the Environmental Pillar, said that Ireland is lacking in “policy coherence” and that more focus should be placed on interlinking the 17 goals across all State departments. “This issue is particularly manifest in Ireland’s poor performance in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and failure to stem the downward spiral in Ireland’s biodiversity,” Mr Ewing added. According to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, many of Ireland’s ‘red listed’ species are threatened mainly from agricultural practices, land-use change and forestry-related activities. Dr Sean Healy, CEO of Social Justice Ireland, said that Ireland’s overall performance on the SDGs is “bad”, adding that the government must put these goals at the centre of policy formation.
“Much of what Ireland is doing is damaging people, the economy or the environment. Ireland needs much more committed action to build a future consistent with the SDGs,” Dr Healy said. “Ireland has the potential to be the best performer on every single goal, showing that it is possible to combine economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development,” he added.
The Sustainable Development Goals Index and Dashboards Report released last week also found Ireland to be falling behind on its environmental commitments under the SDGs. The Sustainable Progress Index for 2018 launched by Social Justice Ireland earlier this year was also critical of Ireland’s progress on its environmental commitments. The report states that Ireland performs particularly poorly in terms of waste and emissions reduction and that the State has been playing catch up on the environmental front since it joined the EU.