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Ireland ranks high on education, but very poorly on climate action in progress index

Ireland ranked 10th out of 15 comparable countries on a UN Sustainable Progress Index.

Image: Shutterstock/Roman Yanushevsky

A REPORT HAS ranked Ireland 10th out of 15 comparable EU countries, measuring economy, society and environment.

In the 2020 Sustainable Progress Index, Ireland ranked 11th out of the 15 countries on the economy.

Although the record on GDP per capita and unemployment is good – we score best on these indicators – the low score on the economy index is influenced by several factors including low pay, the proportion of youths not in employment, education or training, and the % of GDP devoted to research and development. 

Ireland ranked 7th overall on the social index: scoring highly on goals relating to education (ranking second overall, Ireland’s highest score), and peace and justice.

It fared less well on goals reflecting poverty, inequality, gender equality and health and well-being. We ranked 7th on health and wellbeing.

Ireland scores last on the environment index, which suggests we are facing significant challenges in meeting our environmental targets.

One of Ireland’s two lowest scores in the entire report was on ‘Responsible consumption and production’, where we came 13th out of 15. A note under this heading specifically mentioned poor waste management:

The production of municipal waste is one of the highest among the EU15. The recycling rate of municipal waste is very low and the Eurostat indicator for circular material use (%) is the second lowest of the countries.

The other lowest score was on ‘climate action’, also 13th out of 15:

In recent years, Ireland has witnessed a fluctuation in its GHG emissions but it continues to be well above the EU average. Ireland is failing to meet the EU commitment as part of its Europe 2020 strategy to reduce GHG emissions by 20% by 2020 compared with its 1990 levels.

SJI Source: UN Sustainable Development Goals

The overall Sustainable Progress Index, includes all 17 goals set out by the UN. Countries at the bottom are Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands top the rankings.

The report was commissioned by Social Justice Ireland. One of the authors of the report Dr Catherine Kavanagh of UCC said:

 “The establishment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals has given national governments clear economic, social and environmental standards against which established policies should be judged and prospective policies should be measured.

“Equipped with these goals as tools for guidance and accountability, 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.”

You can read the report here

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