Ireland falling behind on environmental Sustainable Development Goals

Published by Niall Sargent on

February 21st, 2018

Ireland is falling behind on its environmental commitments under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a new report has found.

The Sustainable Progress Index for 2018 was launched at the Carmelite Centre in Dublin yesterday at a seminar organised by Social Justice Ireland to examine our progress in implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

The 17 goals are at the centre of the UN’s sustainable development agenda and seek to achieve over 150 targets aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all people by 2030.

They expand on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were established in 2001 and expired in 2015.

The Index compares 15 EU countries across a range of areas based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Ireland sits in the top third of rankings among the EU states for quality of education (SDG 4) and Life on Land (SDG 15), the report found.

The report also finds, however, that Ireland is performing poorly on a range of important UN-backed indicators covering the economy, environment, and civil society.

Ireland ranks in last place for Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12). The report suggests that Ireland needs to drastically change its waste-based consumption patterns.

The report acknowledges a steady decline in the level of municipal waste generated per capita since 2006, although Ireland still produces more waste per capita than its EU counterparts.

The report also states that Ireland performs poorly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, finding that Ireland has been playing catch up on the environmental front since it joined the EU.

“What is clear is that when compared to our EU peers, Ireland is either only keeping up or is falling behind on the environment SDGs,” the report states.

Opening the event this morning, Dr Seán Healy of Social Justice Ireland, said that Ireland’s “bad performance” on the environment highlights the need for SGDs which touch on the environmental issues to become “an integrated part of policy”.

The Index was part-funded by the European Commission’s DEAR project – Make Europe Sustainable For All – and the Irish Department of Rural and Community Development via the Scheme to Support National Organisations and Pobal.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London