Ireland can be proud of the role our diplomats played in developing the UN’s new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, according to Friends of the Earth.
Along with Kenya, Ireland co-chaired the successful negotiations of the Goals, which will be adopted at a summit of over 150 world leaders in New York tomorrow.
Friends of the Earth Director, Oisín Coghlan, is in New York for the summit as an Environmental Pillar observer on the Irish Government delegation.
Three observers from Dóchas, the umbrella body for overseas aid agencies, are also on the official delegation. Both President Michael D Higgins and the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, will represent Ireland at the summit.
Speaking in advance of the Summit, Mr Coghlan said, “Ireland can be justly proud of the positive role Irish officials played in co-chairing the negotiation of the Global Goals.
"As we know from the ongoing climate change negotiations, getting 193 countries to agree on anything, let alone Goals as potentially far-reaching as these, is no mean feat”.
“The test now for our political leaders is to show the same commitment in implementing them. The Global Goals, unlike the Millennium Development Goals they replace, are universal: they apply just as much to Ireland as to Kenya or Bangladesh. I don’t think that reality, that challenge, has sunk in yet.”
A wide range of civil society organizations, including ICTU, Age Action, SVP as well as Dóchas and the Environmental Pillar, wrote ajoint letter to the Taoiseach, in the lead up to the Summit, urging him to commit to developing a national Action Plan for the Goals when he speaks at the UN.
Mr Coghlan commented: “Advancing these Goals will take sustained political leadership and cross-government coordination.
"Ireland often suffers from 'implementation deficit disorder', climate policy being a good example, but initiatives like the Action Plan for Jobs show that when this Government prioritizes something they can drive action across the public service.
“Civil society must be involved in drawing up and delivering the Action Plan if it’s going to work. Irish officials fought hard to ensure civil society involvement in all stages of the global negotiations, a positive development that won Ireland a lot of praise.
“Now the Taoiseach and the Government should bring that spirit of partnership into the implementation phase back home. The NGOs have asked to meet the Taoiseach to discuss how we can help develop and deliver an Irish Action Plan, and we hope that will happen.”
Climate change policy illustrates the challenge Ireland faces reconciling our progressive role in international efforts to address hunger, poverty and development with our struggle to contain climate pollution domestically.
Mr Coghlan concluded: “Despite the recession Ireland is the 8th most generous overseas aid donor per person in the OECD. But we’re also the 8th most climate polluting country per person in the OECD.
"Climate change, of course, is recognized as a clear and present danger to sustainable development globally. That’s the sort of contradiction that we’ll have to address if we want to be proud not just of our role in agreeing the Global Goals but in achieving them”.
People are gathering on Dublin's Millennium Bridge this evening to ask world leaders to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change.
The campaigners will be holding torches of different colours ahead of tomorrow's historic gathering of world leaders in New York, for the adoption of the Global Sustainable Development Goals.
Tonight's event in Dublin city coincides with events in 150 other cities around the world, which are calling on governments to commit to the new goals to tackle the most important issues of our time.