Written answers

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Department of Defence

Sustainable Development Goals

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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440. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the progress made to include reference in all new statements of strategy to all sustainable development goal targets for which his Department has lead responsibility as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25744/21]

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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441. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the specific sustainable development goal targets his Department is responsible for implementing; the progress made in implementing those targets since 26 April 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25762/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 440 and 441 together.

The Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020 was published in direct response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and provides a whole-of-government approach to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications has lead responsibility for promoting and overseeing the coherent implementation of the SDGs on a whole-of-government basis.

The SDGs represent the most ambitious agreement the UN has ever reached.  The Goals are unique, because they apply equally to every country, and are based on the idea that ending poverty, protecting the environment and strengthening human rights are mutually beneficial and reliant on each other for success, and cannot be achieved separately.

Meeting all the 17 Goals by 2030 will be a challenge for Ireland, as it will be for every other country.  Some of the specific challenges for Ireland in 2018 related to housing, levels of obesity, achieving sustainable consumption patterns, halting the decline in biodiversity and habitat destruction, mitigating and adapting to climate change, reducing youth unemployment, reducing poverty, addressing entrenched inequalities and mainstreaming a gender perspective into policy.  The plan sets out 19 specific actions to implement over the duration of this first SDG National Implementation Plan.

As Minister for Defence I retain responsibility for implementing the individual SDGs relating to issues under the aegis of the Department of Defence.  My Department works with other stakeholder Departments' to ensure a coordinated whole-of-Government approach to implementation of the Goals, both domestically and internationally is achieved.  A number of the issues that are relevant to the performance of the functions of the Department of Defence are reflected in our Statement of Strategy 2021-2023.

The Defence Forces are committed to promoting equality in all aspects of their work.  This is set out in the Defence Forces Equality Policy, which commits to ensuring that the principles of equality are adhered to in all its employment policies, procedures, instructions and regulations.  This ongoing commitment is also exemplified in the Defence Forces Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Statement and Action Plan.

In line with such policies and commitments a number of initiatives have been implemented to increase the level of female recruitment and participation in the Defence Forces, which include the following:

- A Gender, Equality and Diversity Officer has been appointed to promote gender equality policies and training within the Defence Forces.

- A Defence Forces Women's Network was established with the aim of increasing the participation of female personnel at all levels of the organisation.

Over the lifetime of the White Paper on Defence 2015, further projects will be progressed to ensure the development and promotion of strategies that continue to support increased female participation in the Defence Forces.

The Programme for Government contains an ambitious range of commitments concerning Defence that my Department will continue to implement over the lifetime of the Programme including:

- The establishment of a Commission on the Defence Forces.

- Support for the establishment of centres for retired members of the Defence Forces.

- Development of a new Institute for Peace Support and Leadership Training in the Curragh.

- To ensure that all enlisted members of the Defence Forces have the same access to health care as officers currently do.

- Amend the Organisation of Working Time Act, bringing the Defence Forces within the scope of its provisions.

This work will continue alongside the on-going work of White Paper implementation projects, the High Level Implementation Plan arising from the Public Service Pay Commission Report on the Defence Forces,  the Equipment Development Plan and the Infrastructure Development plan, both five year rolling plans published last year, and all the other work being undertaken by the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces to ensure the Defence Organisation can fulfil all roles as set out by Government.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is a key strategic partner with the Defence Organisation with whom we will continue to have a close and effective working relationship in the areas of UN Peacekeeping; international security policy; disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control; and sustainable development.  The Defence Organisation will support the “Global Ireland 2025” ambitions to expand and grow the contribution Ireland makes abroad.  The Defence Organisation will continue to contribute to the implementation of the relevant sustainable development goals and targets, as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


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