‘No time to lose’ on sustainable development goals, says Micheál Martin

The Taoiseach said progress had been ‘knocked off-course” by conflict and the pandemic in recent years.
‘No time to lose’ on sustainable development goals, says Micheál Martin

By Michelle Devane, PA

Ireland has “no time to lose” to achieve its sustainable development goals, the Taoiseach has said.

Micheál Martin said progress has been “knocked off-course” by conflict and the pandemic in recent years.

He added that those who bear the least responsibility climate change often end up the worst affected as a result.

The Fianna Fáil leader made the comments at the launch of the Government’s new National Implementation Plan for the Sustainable Development Goals 2022-2024.

Speaking at Government Buildings, Mr Martin said: “Conflict, including war in Europe, and the despicable weaponisation of food and energy are adding yet further challenges to robust and sustainable progress.


“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 the least responsibility and who have the least protection end up the worst affected.

“And against this difficult backdrop, progress towards achieving a number of these sustainable development problems has been knocked off course.

“We’re not where we would wish to be, for example, on hunger, on dire poverty and on gender equality. And so, along the lessons of the past few years, is that progress is not guaranteed, and is not always linear.”

He added: “The only way to deliver a more secure, sustainable and fair island and global community for future generations is to maintain and restate our ambition now and value ourselves once more to achieve each and every one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The new plan sets out five strategic objectives and 51 actions, with 119 individual measures, to increase Ireland’s ambition and strengthen implementation structures to achieve the SDGs.

It was developed in collaboration with all Government departments and key stakeholders, and based on input from two public consultation processes held over the last year.

Agreed by all 193 United Nations member states, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs represent the international community’s road map towards “a safer, fairer, more prosperous and sustainable world”.

Mr Martin described it as “the imperative and agreed route to where we need to be” and “there is no time to lose” to achieve the targets.

The Tánaiste said the world had become a “very different place” since the 17 goals were adopted by UN member states in 2015, but they remain “just as relevant today as they did then, even if the way we go about achieving that might be different”.

Leo Varadkar added: “The 2030 agenda is a compelling call to action, challenging each and every one of us. The goals are inter-dependent and we need to ensure that we achieve them across Government.”

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said that Ireland, like many countries across the globe, is living in times of unprecedented crisis.

“We’re still dealing with the impact of Covid-19, we are facing record-breaking pressures on our planet from climate change, biodiversity loss, and we now face the global fallout from Russia’s war on Ukraine. Access to food and fertiliser is being affected and the possibility of hunger is a very real threat again, to many across the world, 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.”

Mr Ryan added: “The SDGs must be achieved for everyone if they are to be achieved at all.”

The plan will be implemented by all Government departments with each minister having specific responsibility for introducing SDG targets.

The launch of the plan was complemented by the publication of an updated SDG policy map, which identifies the lead department for each of the 169 SDG targets and maps them against national policies.

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