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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Phil Behan/DFA Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressing the summit on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals today.
# United Nations
Taoiseach tells UN ‘we are not where we would wish to be’ on Sustainable Development Goals
Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan are all attending the UN General Assembly this week.

LAST UPDATE | Sep 18th 2023, 4:26 PM

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has told world leaders that we are not where “we would wish to be” on the delivery of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Varadkar addressed the summit on the United Nations’ SDGs today and highlighted that although we are at the half way point, we have only achieved about 15% of the goals so far.

The SDGs cover 17 interlinked areas for action agreed by world leaders in 2015. They are designed to increase global prosperity, tackle inequalities and protect the environment.

The SDG summit, which is being co-facilitated by Ireland and Qatar, is the centerpiece of the UN’s High-level Week in New York as the goals set eight years ago are way off target.

Addressing world leaders today, the Taoiseach said: “As we stand here today, halfway to our deadline of 2030, there is no hiding the fact we are not where we would wish to be.

Varadkar told world leaders that we need to make up for lost time and strive to meet the 2030 targets for sustainable development.

He noted that the progress towards achieving the goals has been set back by the pandemic, by conflict, including the war in Ukraine, and by the increasing pace and intensity of extreme weather events.

“As leaders our drive to achieve the goals has not been as strong or as focussed as it should have been,” the Taoiseach said. 

He added however, that although we have lost time he has not lost hope.

“Saying that we have not made as much progress as we should have, is not the same as saying that we have not made progress,” he said.

Varadkar highlighted the fact that more than 800 million people have been connected to electricity since 2015 and that 146 countries have already met or are on track to meeting the under-5 mortality target.

He also noted that effective HIV treatment has halved global AIDS-related deaths since 2010.

“On Ireland’s behalf, I am also proud to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the 2030 Agenda and to achievement of the goals,” the Taoiseach said.

He added: “We will play our part in ensuring that the world’s poorest and most vulnerable are not forgotten or left behind.” 

Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Environment Minister and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan are also attending the UN in New York.

On Tuesday, the Taoiseach will be at the opening of the UN’s 78th General Assembly, at which he will have a number of meetings, formal and informal, with counterparts from around the world in the margins.

He will deliver Ireland’s National Statement to the Assembly on Friday.

He will also meet young Irish people involved in the tech sector; make an address to the Council on Foreign Relations on Irish foreign policy priorities; and attend a lunch for the Ireland Funds organisation.

He will also visit the Irish Arts Centre, which is hosting an exhibition of work by artist Colin Davidson.

“I am also greatly looking forward to renewing contacts with the Irish community in New York, including young people working in tech, and board members of the Irish Funds who have done so much to promote peace and reconciliation in Ireland,” he said.

The Taoiseach will also travel to Miami, where he will officially open Ireland’s ninth consulate general in the US and meet representatives of the Irish community there.

“I am also pleased to have the opportunity to officially open Ireland’s new consulate general in Miami, our ninth in the United States, and a further signal of the Government’s commitment to continuing to deepen our diplomatic presence in the Americas,” he said.

This is the first time in four years the UN Week returns to ‘normal times’ following the pandemic when there were significant restrictions imposed around meetings and events at the summit.

The week ahead is being seen as a chance to get nations to recommit to goals at the halfway point to 2030.

Ukraine will also be a big focus this week, with the Irish government understood to be focused on tackling what has been described as “Ukraine fatigue” among some countries.

Ireland will use its position to discuss the conflict with other nations and argue for the need to keep pressure on Russia.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, as will US President Joe Biden. While there is a host-event due to be held on Tuesday, it’s not understood that there will be any bilateral meetings involving Varadkar and other leaders.

With reporting from Christina Finn and Jane Matthews

Press Association
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