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REPORT: Furthest Behind First, or Falling Behind Further? The human stories that challenge Ireland’s claims to be leaving no one behind

Coalition 2030 argues via this report that, although the State has been an influential advocate for the SDGs internationally, commitment and progress domestically is less apparent, and that this is most evident in how the State is failing to reach those who are in most need of the State’s support; the furthest behind.

Reaching the furthest behind first is a core principle of the SDGs. However, it is our view that because the State has so far failed to effectively embed the SDGs across Government and provide the necessary political leadership for their achievement, that rather than reaching first the people who require the most support, instead the State has left these people behind. Without dramatic shifts in policy-making, we believe that the State will continue to struggle to reach the furthest behind first, rendering delivery on the SDGs categorically unachievable. This has led to the existence of a significant gap between the State’s international rhetoric and its national action to reach the SDGs, and risks squandering the State’s moral leadership.

We are therefore making a concerted call on the State to bridge the gap between international rhetoric and national action, and to unblock the structural obstacles that are contributing towards thousands of people in Irish society being left behind.

We offer a set of explicit structural recommendations which, if implemented, would enable SDG delivery to develop at pace. We follow these recommendations with an overview of the international and national contexts in which SDG delivery is taking place, provide a statistical overview outlining who is being left behind, and illustrate these statistics with a selection of human case studies. Following each case study are a selection of policy options which, if implemented, would enable the State to more effectively reach these people.

This document reaffirms and builds on the findings contained in a chapter submitted in April 2023 by Coalition 2030, included as part of the State’s official submission to the 2023 Voluntary National Review process.

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