Ireland has ranked 11th out of 15 European nations on a new analysis of how well countries are meeting sustainable development goals.
This year’s Sustainable Progress Index, commissioned by Social Justice Ireland, measured how successful 15 nations have been in reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations (UN).
Each country compared under three different dimensions — economy, society and environment.
On the economic dimension, Ireland ranked 10th out of 15 countries.
Though the country scored well in the areas of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and low overall unemployment, its score was lowered by factors such as pay, and NEET rate — that is, the proportion of youths not in employment, education or training.
Ireland fared best on the social dimension, placing 6th.
The country scored highly on goals relating to education, peace and justice.
It scored less well but still relatively high in the areas of inequality, gender equality and health and wellbeing.#
Ireland’s worst performance was on the environmental dimension where we fell to the bottom of the list.
Analysts noted that while some improvement had been made in this area in recent years, other countries were simply improving at a much quicker rate.
The country scored poorly on goals relating to responsible production and consumption, clean energy, and climate change.
Overall, Ireland scored higher than Portugal, Italy, Spain and Greece, but behind Belgium, Luxembourg, France, the UK, Germany, Austria and Finland.
Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands placed first second, and third on the Index, respectively.
Commenting on the analysis, Research Policy Analyst with Social Justice Ireland, Michelle Murphy said the country still had significant challenges to meet, particularly when it came to meeting environmental targets.
She added: "This is the fifth edition of the Sustainable Progress Index and Ireland has consistently ranked among the poorest performing countries in the EU-15 on the environmental SDGs."
Ms Murphy said that the Programme for Government's commitment to halving carbon emissions over the course of the decade would "ring hollow without political commitment and action."
#SustainableProgress2021 #SDGs— Social Justice Ireland (@SocialJusticeI) February 24, 2021
Launch of our Sustainable Progress Index just about to start. Prof. Charles Clark of St. John's University, NY and Dr. Catherine Kavanagh of UCC on how Ireland compares against our EU-15 peers in progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. pic.twitter.com/8X5E9engKo
Dr Catherine Kavanagh of University College Cork, one of the report's authors, said the UN SGs had given national governments “clear economic, social and environmental standards against which established policies should be judged.
Dr Kavanagh said the Irish Government should be using these goals as “tools for guidance and accountability” and to inform policy decisions.
“Our Government has the opportunity to lead the way towards a new generation of politics shaped by the economic, social and environmental demands of a truly healthy society,” she added.
- Social Justice Ireland's report titled: ‘Measuring Progress: Sustainable Progress Index 2021’ was written by Prof Charles M.A. Clark of St John’s University, New York and Dr Catherine Kavanagh of UCC.
- Sustainable Progress Index 2021 compares 15 EU countries across all UN SDGs, assesses their performance on each individual SDG and creates a ranking table for performance overall.
- The report used 82 indicators across the 17 goals to analyse performance. The full report can be read on Social Justice Ireland's website.