Will Ireland Score 17 Global Goals?

01 october 2015

By Hans Zomer

It was a proud moment for Ireland. Standing on the podium in the United Nations General Assembly, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced Ireland's commitment to a new global deal, negotiated under Irish leadership.

The "Sustainable Development Goals", adopted by global leaders in New York on 25 September, form a new global agreement on how to tackle the world's biggest problems - an agreement reached after years of consultations and negotiations. The crucial last months of the negotiations were chaired by the Kenyan Ambassador to the UN Macharia Kamau and by David Donoghue, his Irish counterpart.

And the result is something to be proud of: A new international consensus on what it takes to ensure prosperity and peace for all the people on this planet. The new "Global Goals" define a new relationship of mutual accountability between the “global north” and the “global south" and provide a platform for partnerships between governments, citizens, corporations and civil society groups to work together in coordination.

But even as world leaders were gathered in New York to formally adopt the Goals, attention turned to the crucial question of how to implement them. Each UN member country is expected to develop a national action plan, showing how it will pursue the Goals and how it will measure their progress. And with this in mind, the members of Dóchas have been working with domestic organisations to come up with ideas on how Ireland can "bring the Global Goals home."

There are a number of core elements in our plan to kick-start implementation in Ireland: 

  1. There needs to be political commitment at the highest level to deliver the Goals, building on the vocal and public support shown by the Taoiseach in his speech to the UN and based on the leading role the government has taken in the post-2015 discussions to date. Before the Dáil summer recess, the Taoiseach promised to support an Oireachtas debate on the Sustainable Development Goals. Such a debate would be a great starting point to arrive at a national plan of action — and oversight on implementation — and would send the right signal to all government departments as to the seriousness with which the government is taking the Goals.

  2. The government needs to outline its approach to implementation and should quickly set out a clear and costed plan for how the goals will be delivered across government, nationally and globally. This plan should not just rest on the shoulders of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but needs to be coordinated across all government Departments. In addition, given the critical role civil society has played in the development of the framework, the government must also ensure that Ireland's many civic groups are involved in the process to develop a national plan of action.

  3. A robust approach to monitoring, accountability and review is needed —making sure global and national indicators are measuring what matters, and that data is collected according to gender, ethnicity, disability and age, so that progress can be monitored to ensure no-one is left behind. Introducing the right mechanisms in parliament to scrutinise and hold the government to account for its commitments, as well as independent, arms-length scrutiny bodies representing multiple stakeholders, will also be critical.

  4. Ireland should work with other countries to mobilise the much-needed finance to deliver the Goals. In Budget 2016, the Government must earmark domestic finance to implement the SDGs nationally as well as make tangible progress towards the commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid. However, mobilising resources beyond aid will be equally important — including from tax, wider investment flows and trade.

  5. The Sustainable Development Goals will not be delivered if climate change is left to devastate our environment and plunge more people into poverty. An ambitious global climate agreement in December is a crucial piece in the puzzle. Ireland must do more to reduce carbon emission reductions and increase its fair share of climate finance.

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