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Read the speeches from Taoiseach Mícheal Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister Eamon Ryan at the launch of the Second National Implementation Plan for the SDGs

Taoiseach Mícheál Martin

In the time since Ireland’s first National Implementation Plan was launched in 2018, the world has been beset by multiple once in a generation challenges. A global pandemic, with its tragic human cost has put an enormous pressure on societies and economies across the world, including our own. Conflict, including war in Europe, and the despicable weaponization of food and energy are adding yet further challenges to progress in sustainable development. The devastating impacts of the climate crisis are being felt today on every continent, bringing increased human misery, displacement, loss of opportunity and conflict. Often those who bear least responsibility and who have the least protection end up the worst affected, and against this difficult backdrop progress towards achieving a number of the Sustainable Development Goals has been knocked off course. We are not where we would wish to be, for example on hunger, on dire poverty, and on gender equality. 

And so among the lessons of the past few years is that progress is not guaranteed, and is not always linear. Or perhaps the greatest lesson has been that in the face of these epic challenges, effective collective action, and ambition, remains utterly indispensable to making progress. We saw it with COVID and again with regard to Ukraine. 

The same holds true for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. And so the only way to deliver a more secure, sustainable and fair Ireland and global community for future generations, is to maintain and restate our ambition now, and rally ourselves once more to achieve each and every one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

It is in that context that I welcome this second National Implementation Plan and the commitment embedded within it to work to deliver the goals at a global level. And importantly here as it’s focused on the need to fully integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into our thinking, and our action across the full spectrum of policy making and delivery. Good work is already underway in a number of places as we can see in the many case studies highlighted in the plan, such as the Cork City Development Plan 2020 to 2028. The Chambers Ireland toolkit for business, GAA green clubs, and NUI Galway’s ‘Advancing the SDGs’. 

And with this second National Implementation Plan, our challenge and our undertaking is to make the goals more firmly embedded at all levels, be it in central government and local authority level in the community, or in the ambition and ingenuity of the individual. And I acknowledge and I welcome the cross government and stakeholder representation here for today’s launch. 

The clear message from this plan is that achieving the goals is not an academic or administrative exercise that sits alongside our real life ambitions as a people and as a planet. It is the imperative and agreed route to where we need to be. The goals are the most comprehensive and ambitious blueprint for sustainable economic and social development at home and across the globe. We are committed to them. And with this plan, we’re setting forth how we can achieve them. 

There is no time to lose.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach, Ministers ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. It’s an honor to be here to publish the new National Implementation Plan for the Sustainable Development Goals. 

I want to thank everyone who contributed to the document. As you know, stakeholders have always had a very important role in the development and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs require action not only from government, but also from all individuals across society, as well as partnerships involving government, civil society, organizations, business and communities. 

I think it’s fair to say that the world has become a very different place since the 17 goals were originally adopted by UN member states back in 2015. But the goals remain just as relevant today. As they did then, even if the way we go about achieving them might be different. The 2030 agenda is a compelling call to action, challenging each and every one of us. The goals are interdependent, and we need to ensure that we achieve them across government; here in Ireland but also on a worldwide basis. The problems we face today from climate action to security to inflation, can’t be solved by an island acting on its own. 

I’m very proud that we’ve used our term on the UN Security Council to focus on those furthest behind, including the least developed countries and also women and girls in the developing world. Last week’s budget saw an unprecedented investment in Ireland’s Overseas Development Programme. Irish Aid’s budget has increased by 17% demonstrating our enduring commitment to global solidarity and enabling us to respond to crises facing the most vulnerable people in the world as a result of conflict, hunger and climate change, which is particularly apparent now in Somalia. 

From the perspective of my own department, business and industry are one of the 2030 agenda’s nine major groups, which play a crucial role in sustainable development. The business sector is explicitly linked to goal 8, decent work and economic growth and goal 12 responsible consumption and production. I think it’s fair to say that Ireland has made some really good progress in recent years on decent work and economic growth. We’ve never had more people at work. Youth unemployment is close to an all time low, and female labor market participation has never been so high. And as you know, we’re introducing reforms to strengthen worker’s rights and terms of conditions. This includes statutory sick pay, which comes into effect on the first of January, the new bank holiday in February, flexible working, the move to a living wage, and as a government, we are working to ensure that the pandemic leaves a legacy of a more inclusive and secure society. Also under Minister O’Gorman, we’ve introduced new gender pay gap reporting in the workplace, and he’s bringing through legislation to enhance work life balance, providing new and extended rights to parents and carers. 

I want to acknowledge the positive engagement from the business community and the leadership of representative bodies such as Chambers Ireland, which is represented here, which has established a Sustainable Business Council and sustainable impact business awards for its members. Under this second National Implementation Plan, the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment has committed to establishing a suitable mechanism to facilitate even greater business engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals. 

At European level the directive on corporate sustainability, due diligence will make businesses more accountable by obliging them to disclose the impact of their business on the environment and human rights. The directive is a cornerstone of the European green agenda, and aims to end greenwashing and lay the groundwork for sustainable reporting standards at global level. 

So finally, I want to thank everyone who has been involved in getting us to this point for their work in putting together the implementation plan. And just to say that we need to work with you and want to work with you to both raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals, and ensure that they are implemented fully in the coming years. Thank you very much.

Minister Eamon Ryan

Thanks very much indeed and very glad to be here with Taoiseach, Tánaiste and and colleagues across government to launch Ireland’s second National Implementation Plan for the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Our department, Department of Environment, Climate & Communications, developed the plan in collaboration with all these other government departments, and this is aligned with Ireland’s whole-of-government approach to the Sustainable Development Goals. The plan was developed based on input from two public consultation processes held over the last year, and the National Stakeholder Forum held in June. 

I want to acknowledge the time and effort given by all who took part and which helped shape the structure, the ambitions, and the goals set out in the plan. There are 22 case studies that have been included to highlight some of the examples of best practice projects being progressed around the country by a variety of organizations and groups. And there is beautiful artwork I’d have to say, which has been supplied from young people as part of a junior art competition to support the goals. The collaborative approach taken in the development of the plan is truly reflective of the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, and it’s intended to maintain and grow these partnerships into the future. 

In 2015, Ireland had the honour of Co-leading the 2030 agenda negotiations alongside Kenya. We are proud to have played a key role in agreement of the Sustainable Development Goals and we recognize their relevance and increasing importance today. 

Ireland, like countries across the globe, is living in times of unprecedented crisis. We’re still dealing with the impact of COVID-19. We’re facing record-breaking pressures on our planet from climate change and biodiversity loss, and we now face the global fallout from Russia’s war on Ukraine. Access to food and fertilizer is being affected, and the possibility of hunger is a very real threat again, to many across the world in this year. 

The Sustainable Development Goals offer a blueprint to forge a more united and coherent way forward. They provide us with a framework to tackle the interlinked crises facing society today. That approach was agreed by 192 members of the nations, the goals represent the international community’s collective roadmap, a roadmap which leads towards a safer, fairer, more prosperous and sustainable world. A world capable of meeting our needs today and the needs of future generations to come. 

A key aim of ours, as set out in the plan, is to embed the framework provided by the Sustainable Development Goals, into national and local government work and to ensure a coherent system wide approach which allows for greater communication and joined-up thinking between policymakers across sectors. 

We will also be putting in place greater reporting mechanisms to monitor Ireland’s progress towards achieving the goals. Comprehensive statistical data will be provided from the CSO and this will inform Ireland’s second Voluntary National Review, which will be presented at the United Nations High Level political forum in July next year. 

We recognize that action is required at all levels and by all stakeholders in order to fulfill the vision and ambitions contained within the SDGs. A new chapter in the plan reflects the contributions of key groups and identifies opportunities for greater partnerships. The plan sets out actions to establish new national stakeholder engagement mechanisms, and the future development of existing mechanisms. 

Furthermore, the SDGs must be achieved for everyone if they are to be achieved at all. We intend to open a collaborative and inclusive dialogue to explore the concept of leaving no one behind, a key principle of the 2030 Agenda, and to understand what that means in an Irish context. 

Two supporting documents will be published alongside the new National Implementation Plan: an updated policy map which identifies the lead government department and relevant national policies for each of the 17 goals and 169 targets, and a policy update document which essentially captures the government initiatives to date that have been undertaken to progress the SDG targets. 

These targets are more than just a set of global ambitions; they’re a call to action. And we stand ready to work with partners to lead this time of crisis behind, to accelerate action for the achievement of the SDGs, and to build a better and more sustainable future for all which leaves no person behind. Thank you.

Press Conference

Click below to view on YouTube the press conference where these speeches were made.

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