Minister Ryan presents Ireland’s 2023 Progress on Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, will present Ireland’s second Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, where countries from across the globe are attending the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).


The Voluntary National Review, entitled Building Back Better while Leaving No One Behind, outlines the progress that Ireland is making in achieving the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with 80% of the associated 169 targets reached. Ireland has made progress in a number of areas, such as education, employment, social protection, hunger reduction, health, community engagement and wellbeing.


Over his short time in New York, Minister Ryan also intends to hold a number of bilateral meetings with other states, in particular those already living with the damaging impacts of climate change, like the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in advance of COP28 in November 2023. Last year, at COP 27, he was appointed EU lead negotiator on the central issue of loss and damage. As a result, Ireland now shares a seat on the UN Transition Committee on Loss and Damage which has responsibility for operationalising new funding arrangements and bringing the fund for consideration and adoption at this year’s COP28 in Dubai.


He will also be delivering statements to the General Assembly on Ukraine, condemning Russia’s repeated attacks on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


On the VNR, Minister Ryan said:


“Our VNR report reflects Ireland’s strong economic recovery following the pandemic and our efforts to build back better, guided by the SDGs and Agenda 2030. It demonstrates the extensive suite of national policies which continue to be introduced to support and address the SDGs and their associated targets. Strong economic growth, while welcome, has to be balanced with similarly strong social economic growth, community development, education opportunity, respect, diversity and equality across every region and every suburb of the country.


“We are making evidenced progress but there are also key areas where we face further challenges – areas like clean water and sanitation or the need for greater levels of renewable energy, which we are now ramping up. It’s also disappointing to see that we are missing targets related to what should be quite basic issues in a developed society, like municipal waste and consumption.


“This Voluntary National Review is being presented at a crunch time, in the same month that the average global temperature reached a record breaking 17 degrees and as heatwaves sizzle in Europe, in Asia and in the Americas. Even here in Ireland, our seas off our west coast are five degrees hotter than they should be. The climate crisis cannot be ignored and the one way we will address it is if we continue to strive and co-operate to see full, global achievement of the SDGs.”


Minister Ryan will also deliver statements on building momentum towards the 2023 SDG Summit in September. Ireland has been appointed a co-facilitator in preparing the political declaration to be adopted at the that summit. In addition, he will attend a high-level round table event on the 25th anniversary of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.


Voluntary National Review (VNR)

A Voluntary National Review (VNR) is a reporting mechanism through which countries assess and present national progress made in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including the pledge to ‘Leave No One Behind’. It is a voluntary, country-led review, which aims to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of Agenda 2030. A VNR also seeks to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilise multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. A country reports into the UN membership when they present their VNR.

Ireland submitted its first VNR in 2018.

Building Back Better while Leaving No One Behind

Ireland’s 2023 VNR was developed under the theme of ‘Building Back Better while Leaving No One Behind’, guided by the central commitment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the theme of the 2023 High Level Political Forum (HLPF). In this context, civil society and stakeholders were invited, along with Government Departments, to contribute to the VNR through a public consultation, stakeholder fora and a special youth consultation process. This has resulted in input from civil society and stakeholders, as well as a dedicated youth chapter — the first time a country has provided a standalone youth chapter in its VNR.

Actions Taken

Many actions to achieve the SDGs are embedded in overarching national policies for recovery from the pandemic, including the Economic Recovery Plan, and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, as well as policies and frameworks such as the Well-being Framework, Ireland’s Climate Action Plan and those on the green and digital transitions, such as the National Retrofit Plan and Harnessing Digital – The Digital Ireland Framework.

Ireland is also integrating the SDGs into overseas development policy. A Better World: Ireland’s Policy for International Development (2019) sets out our priorities, including reducing humanitarian need, supporting climate action, promoting gender equality, and strengthening governance, while reaching the furthest behind first.

Agenda 2030

In September 2015, all 193 UN Member States, including Ireland, adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ‘end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all’ as part of the new agenda — Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This framework is made up of 17 SDGs and 169 targets. Ireland had a significant role in its development and adoption, as co-facilitator, together with Kenya, of the intergovernmental negotiations in September 2015.

United Nations High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF)

Agenda 2030 recognises the importance of follow-up and review at the national, regional, and global level to measure implementation progress of the SDGs. The UN High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) is the main United Nations platform for sustainable development and Agenda 2030, and has the central role in overseeing follow-up and review at global level.

The 2023 HLPF will be held from 10-19 July 2023 at the UN Headquarters in New York, with the central theme “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”. Find out more on the United Nations website.

2023 SDG Summit

The 2023 SDG Summit will take place in September 2023 during the United Nations General Assembly high-level week, marking the mid-point of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Heads of State and Government will carry out a comprehensive review of the state of the SDGs, respond to the impact of multiple and interlocking crises facing the world, and provide high-level political guidance on transformative and accelerated actions leading up to the target year of 2030 for achieving the SDGs. The outcome of the summit will be a negotiated political declaration which Ireland and Qatar are co-facilitating. Find out more on the United Nations website.

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