Thursday, 25 February 2021
Topical Issue Debate
Sustainable Development Goals
I thank the Deputy for raising this matter and I hope I can do exactly what he suggested. I welcome the opportunity to set out the actions we are taking with regard to the SDGs. The programme for Government was developed with close consideration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and provides specific reference to delivering on objectives in line with the SDGs in many areas. The Government has committed to strengthen engagement and awareness at local level, with a commitment to ensure local authorities have regard to the national planning framework and alignment to the 17 goals when drafting development plans.
The integration of the sustainable development goals at a local level as well as a new national SDG implementation plan, committed to be published later this year, will be vital to support progress towards achieving Agenda 2030. The first Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020, published in 2018, established a framework for how Ireland will implement the SDGs and identified 19 specific actions for delivery in this period. I will now highlight some of these key actions.
Ireland presented its first voluntary national review to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2018. This report set out our progress with the goals. Ireland has committed to prepare a further report to the UN in 2022.
The national SDG stakeholder forum was established and has held six meetings to date. While Covid-19 disrupted planned meetings in 2020, further meetings will be arranged this year and are likely to be taken in a virtual or hybrid format. Twelve SDG champions were appointed to raise awareness of the goals within their respective sectors. The initiative has been extremely successful in its outreach to different communities and groups. A review of the champions programme and stakeholder forum will be finalised as part of the development phase of the next implementation plan.
An SDG policy map has been published, which enhances the ability of stakeholders to track Ireland’s implementation of specific goals and targets. It also supports and enhances cross-Government engagement in implementing each of the goals and targets. This is currently being revised to reflect changes to ministerial and departmental functions under the current Government. The enhanced format will include additional information on related stakeholder forums linked to each target. It will be published on gov.iein the coming weeks.
The Central Statistics Office, CSO, working in conjunction with Ordnance Survey Ireland, has developed an online GeoHive data hub to provide spatially relevant information on our progress toward targets under the SDGs. As part of this initiative, the CSO is publishing a series of individual SDG goal reports. Goals 1 to 5 are available online and goal 6, water, will be published in the coming weeks. My Department will lead the development of Ireland's second SDG national implementation plan to further guide implementation and promote awareness of the goals.
It is important to emphasise that meeting Ireland's commitments under the SDGs will entail ambition across Government and wider society. For this reason, I intend to continue the established SDG governance arrangements of a senior officials group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, supported by the interdepartmental working group, chaired by my Department. These governance arrangements are, of course, complemented by the valuable work of the SDG stakeholder forum, as well as sectoral engagement initiatives, which not only support the more coherent implementation of the goals to address environmental, social and economic challenges related to sustainable development, but also provide an essential interface between the public bodies and civil society in our collective work to deliver the SDGs in Ireland over the next decade.
I thank the Deputy for his interest in this area. I am interested to see how we can deliver it at local as well as a national level across the country. I know we were talking recently about the opportunity for Waterford to become the best example of a sustainable city in our country. I believe that is achievable with good leadership at a local level.