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PRESS RELEASE: At turning point for sustainable development, Taoiseach’s statements at UN don’t match Ireland’s actions at home – Coalition 2030

NEW YORK, [18 September 2023]

  • SDG Summit the “centrepiece” of the 78th UNGA

  • Political Declaration adopted by UN General Assembly at 14:45 GMT +1

  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made statement to UNGA given Ireland’s co-facilitation of the Political Declaration

Coalition 2030, representing over 70 Irish civil society groups, has criticised Ireland’s recent UN General Assembly address on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They deem it a missed chance for Ireland to demonstrate increased leadership on the SDGs.

The Taoiseach, on behalf of the government, responded to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ call for fresh national commitments to the SDGs. While expressing support for SDG targets, the Taoiseach fell short of specifying concrete actions.

Meaghan Carmody, Coalition 2030 Coordinator, stated,

“It was positive to hear the Taoiseach acknowledge that the government’s focus hasn’t been as strong as it should have been on the SDGs, and the importance of bold, accelerated, just and transformative actions anchored in international solidarity. But actions speak louder than words. Ireland has earned a leadership role, yet our leaders still fail to recognize the significance of the SDGs domestically.”

Dearbháil Lawless, Co-Chair of Coalition 2030 added,

“The Taoiseach said that it’s the responsibility of world leaders to ‘breathe life’ into the adopted Political Declaration and ‘make it real’. We agree, Ireland, as a co-facilitator of the Political Declaration, should be leading the way. If the Taoiseach stays true to his word, we should see real efforts in Ireland to reach the furthest behind first.”

Ms. Lawless continued,

“If the Taoiseach is serious, we must witness concrete actions at home and abroad. The SDGs are universal, and leaders must prioritise those left furthest behind.”

The Coalition also lamented the lack of engagement with Irish civil society in shaping the National Commitment. According to Ms. Carmody,

“UN Secretary General António Gutteres was very clear in his instruction to countries to ensure the active participation of civil society in the development of States’ National Commitment. But despite this, Irish civil society was not asked to play any role in the development of the National Commitment.”

Ms. Carmody concluded, “There is still time for the government to inject urgency into SDG implementation and become a true leader in this space.”


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