Ireland’s Voluntary National Review on SDG Implementation

Ireland’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR) on SDG implementation was approved by government in June this year.  The report will now be presented to the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York in July 2018. The VNR considers Ireland’s performance against each of the 17 SDGs and, includes a statistical annex using Eurostat indicators.

The Department of Communications, Climate Actions and the Environment is responsible for both Ireland’s first SDG National Implementation Plan and the Voluntary National Review. The Implementation Plan was published in early 2018. The Plan  sets out arrangements for interdepartmental coordination, stakeholder engagement and periodic progress reporting at national and global levels.

The VNR features a Compendium of contributions from national stakeholders in Ireland. 

The UCD contribution was as follows:

What is UCD doing to support the SDGs?

Undergraduate: A discovery module on the Global Goals can be taken by any first year student in UCD as an elective. There are many disciplinary Modules on the SDGs on offer across Social Science, Economics and Politics, Business, Veterinary Science, Law and Agricultural degrees. UCD SDG Awareness Week is organised annually, where there are talks, poster exhibits on campus, social media campaign, all with the aspirations of raising  awareness and implementing the SDG’s on the UCD Campus. UCD Volunteers Overseas has extended its activities to projects in India, Haiti, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Uganda, and employs two full-time staff to co-ordinate its activities. To date, approximately 1,500 volunteers have engaged in environmental, educational, healthcare, construction and computer training projects in disadvantaged communities overseas. Postgraduate: MPA in Development Practice (MDP) to train young professionals to implement the SDGs in government and in stakeholder partnerships. Ph.D. in Global Human Development, to train academic staff in mainly African countries up to the level of a Ph.D. in any area relating to the SDGs Research: The Irish EPA and the IRC/EC have commissioned University College Dublin’s Centre for Sustainable Development Studies to research governance, data needs and a follow-up and review framework for achieving the SDGs in Ireland. At the core of our research focus is government enabled multi-stakeholder partnerships for SDG implementation in Ireland. Outreach: UCD is an active ember of the UN SDSN, operating since 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General.

SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. UCD has Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC consultative status for an organization enables it to actively engage with ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies in a number of important ways. One aspect is to be an active member of the UN Major Group for Science and Technology during UN HLPF meetings.

UCD’s key observations on Ireland’s SDG implementation?

Ireland’s VNR provides a strong framework for governance arrangements that can facilitate a whole of government approach to SDG implementation. We welcome the: Updating of  national sustainable development strategy to directly reflect the SDGs; The high levels of political engagement, including cabinet oversight and ministerial responsibilities of SDG implementation; The clear assignment of SDGs responsibilities across all departments, including the mainstreaming and mapping of policies; The development of mechanisms for interdepartmental coordination on the SDGs, e.g. the SDG Interdepartmental Working Group; The development of a SDG Stakeholder Forum. HLPF 2018 – Compendium of Irish Stakeholder Inputs 5

How would UCD further enhance SDG implementation?

The Irish Government need a better framework for a whole-of-society approach to SDG implementation. The period 2018-2020 is stated as the government period for defining a
baseline, taking stock of policy gaps and defining roles and responsibilities of government departments and agencies. The whole of Government committee and the Stakeholder Forum, over the next two years, have in their terms of reference the need to formalize the role of stakeholders in setting policy agendas, SDG implementation and follow up and review. Our research in UCD over the next two years will explore ways that government can engage stakeholders and ways that stakeholders can be enabled to work together in pursuit of the SDGs. The Irish SDG plan during 2020 to 2030 should have best practice and smart innovations in terms of engaging all stakeholders in achieving the SDGs in Ireland and beyond.