Ireland falls behind on UN Sustainable Development Goals

Beibhinn Thorsch

Ireland is falling behind on its Sustainable Development Goals

Ireland has ranked as the lowest in responsible waste production and consumption in the EU, a recent report published by Social Justice Ireland has shown.

The report, written by Prof Charles Clark, Dr. Catherine Kavanagh and Niamh Lenihan, highlights Ireland’s poor progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development goals (SDGs).

There are 17 of goals which aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.

Despite ranking last in responsible consumption and production, Ireland has generated slightly less waste compared to previous reports. The ranking remains low, however, because it also takes into account the amount of waste that has not been treated and waste water which has been treated.

Ireland’s worst performing categories are Environment, Gender Equality, Climate Action, Affordable Clean Energy, Reducing Inequality and International Partnership on Sustainable Development Goals.

The College View spoke to DCU sustainability officer Samantha Fahy, who said that Higher Education Institutes (HEI’s) can make a significant impact in leading by example.

“HEI’s can address through their operations and practice, advocating and demonstrating to other organisations the leadership necessary to address these challenging goals and highlighting the urgent actions needed to achieve these goals,” she said.

Speaking to DCU lecturer David Robbins, who’s academic research has centered around media representations of climate change, he agreed with Samantha Fahy that the plastic free campus initiative was not enough of a start towards a sustainable campus for DCU.

“It’s a good initiative,” said Robbins, “but it’s not enough of a start in working towards a sustainable campus.” He suggested that the university work towards harnessing renewable energy on campus.

Ireland ranks in 10th overall and is five points behind Belgium, which is in ninth place. The report states that:

“Ireland is either only keeping up or is falling behind on the environment SDGs.”

If the State continues to ignore the commitments to sustainability, it could be faced with large European fines.

The report advises that Ireland should keep the Sustainable Development goals, of which there are 17, in mind when implementing new policies surrounding the issues addressed.

By Beibhinn Thorsch

Image Credit: European Parliament