Ireland SDG Implementation Plan Emphasizes Coherence, Public Engagement
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The Government of Ireland’s three-year SDGs National Implementation Plan identifies the key challenges facing the country, and its strategic priorities to guide implementation.

In a ‘SDG Matrix,’ the Plan identifies specific government departments that are responsible for each of the 169 SDG targets.

Ireland announces its intention to present four Voluntary National Reviews to the HLPF, beginning in 2018.

25 April 2018: The Government of Ireland has launched its first national plan for implementing the SDGs, setting out how it will work to achieve the Goals domestically and internationally. Ireland’s ‘Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020’ identifies responsible government departments for each of the 169 SDG targets, and designates governance and implementation arrangements to support a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to implementation.

The Plan was prepared by the Government of Ireland’s Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, ahead of the country’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR) to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July 2018.

The Plan identifies specific challenges for Ireland in 2018 on the SDGs. These challenges relate to reducing poverty (aligned with SDG 1: no poverty); tackling levels of obesity (related to SDG 3: good health and well-being); mainstreaming a gender perspective into policy (related to SDG 5: gender equality); reducing youth unemployment (aligned with SDG 8: decent work and economic growth); addressing entrenched inequalities (SDG 10: reduced inequalities); addressing housing (under SDG 11: sustainable cities and communities); achieving sustainable consumption (in line with SDG 12: responsible consumption and production); mitigating and adapting to climate change (SDG 13: climate action); and halting declines in biodiversity and habitat destruction (related to SDG 15: life on land).

The Plan also identifies four strategic priorities: public awareness of the SDGs; participation for stakeholders and others in implementation, follow-up and review; support for actors’ SDG contributions; and alignment of national policy with the SDGs.

According to the Plan, public awareness of the SDGs is low. Consequently, the Plan identifies several actions to communicate the relevance of SDGs to everyday life, and demonstrate how people and communities can contribute to SDG improvement. The Plan also identifies the education sector as a focus area for promoting engagement with the SDGs, including through the National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development in Ireland 2014-2020 and through Irish Aid’s development efforts on education and lifelong learning, in line with SDG 4 (quality education).

On participation, the Plan states that Ireland will engage with stakeholders on the preparation of national progress reports, including its 2018 VNR. Ireland will also establish a SDG Stakeholder Forum, include stakeholder representatives in its delegation to the HLPF, and provide speaking time to a stakeholder representative during the VNR presentation.

To ensure policy coherence, the Plan assigns the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment with the lead responsibility for promoting and overseeing coherent SDG implementation at a whole-of-government level. An ‘SDG Matrix’ identifies responsible government departments for each of the 169 targets of the SDG framework. Ireland has assigned every government department with specific responsibilities related to one or more SDGs. Beginning in 2018, government departments are required to include reference, in all new Statements of Strategy, to all SDG targets for which a Department has lead responsibility.

The Plan also includes an ‘SDG Policy Map’ that identifies the relevant national policies for each SDG targets, and illustrates Ireland’s actions to implement each SDG. The SDG Policy Map will be refined as new policies are adopted.

To support interdepartmental coordination, Ireland has established a Senior Officials Group (SOG) composed of high-level representatives from across all government departments and chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach (head of government), to oversee and monitor SDG progress and report to government. The Plan includes the SOG’s terms of reference. A SDG Interdepartmental Working Group, with representatives from all government departments, will support the SOG, including by coordinating strategic communication on the SDGs and Ireland’s implementation, and preparing national SDG progress reports.

On follow-up and review, the Plan indicates that Ireland will produce national reports on SDG implementation every two years, reporting on all 17 SDGs. Ireland intends to present four VNRs to the HLPF, beginning in 2018 and then in 2022, 2026 and 2030. [Government of Ireland Press Release] [Publication: The SDGs National Implementation Plan 2018-2020] [Ireland’s SDGs Webpage]


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