Ireland last in Europe on environmental SDGs, report

February 21st, 2020

Ireland is falling behind on its green commitment under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new report has found.

The Sustainable Progress Index for 2020 launched this morning revealed that Ireland scores last on the environmental category among 15 European countries examined for their overall efforts to implement the SDGs.

The 17 universal goals are central to the UN’s sustainable development agenda and aim to achieve over 150 targets seeking to eradicate poverty, safeguarding the planet and ensuring prosperity for all by 2030.

Overall, Ireland ranks 10th out of 15 comparable EU countries alongside Greece, Portugal and Spain in this year’s report commissioned by Social Justice Ireland (SJI).

Ireland’s poor environmental performance, the report states, reveals the country’s mounting challenges in meeting its environmental targets.

SJI has found that we are faring poorly in the SDGs, including clean energy, responsible consumption and production as well as climate action.

Much like last year’s report, the report has found that Ireland scores low in wastewater management and recycling among the examined countries. Further development in drinking water and sanitation is also a necessity, the report states.

In 2018, the European Commission opened an infringement case against Ireland for failure to ensure drinking water for over 500,000 consumers is safe from Trihalomethanes exposure.

Although Ireland has scored relatively well in the category of air pollution in urban areas, it has failed to reach a satisfactory level when it comes to the state of the country’s public transport system.

Ireland also scores well for offering quality education and is regarded as a relatively safe place to live with lower homicides and crime rates relative to other countries.

Commenting on the new findings, Dr Seán Healy of SJI said that Ireland has the potential to set an example of a “truly healthy society” yet we are “seriously underperforming in certain areas”.

“Addressing the complexities of sustainable development requires a joined-up thinking approach,” he said.

It requires a balance between economic and social progress and sustaining the planet’s environment and resources as well as combatting climate change,” Dr Healy continued.

In 2018, the Sustainable Development Goals Index and Dashboards Report also found that Ireland is falling behind on its environmental commitments under the SDGs.

The report was the first worldwide study to assess where each country stands with regard to achieving the goals and found that further efforts are needed in Ireland to protect biodiversity and support sustainable production and consumption.

About the Author

Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.