Ireland country profile - SDGs and the environment

Briefing Published 02 Dec 2020 Last modified 02 Dec 2020
Ireland’s SDG action takes place within the framework of Project Ireland 2040, which identifies the country’s overarching policy goals and values and sets out 10 strategic objectives. The SDG priority areas include health and well-being (SDG 3); energy (SDG 7); climate action (SDG 13); smart and sustainable food production (SDG 3); and transitioning to sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) (Government of Ireland, 2018).

Ireland acknowledges that the detrimental effects of climate change are most acutely felt by the most vulnerable in society by undermining their well-being and ability to cope (SDGs 13, 3) (Doyle, 2017). As a small island nation with a relatively large marine territory, Ireland considers its relationship with the marine environment critical to social, environmental, and economic activities (Doyle, 2017). It therefore prioritises SDG 14 (life below water) and has put in place a National Integrated Maritime Plan to manage its marine resources to integrate economic, environmental and social priorities with the SDGs (Breen, 2017).

Ireland’s actions towards SDGs with an environmental dimension focus primarily on SDGs 3, 7, 12, 13 and 14. 

The National Development Plan 2018-2027 provides for EUR 116 billion in capital investment over 10 years. Of this, EUR 21.8 billion is allocated to SDG-related projects, including those on renewable energy and energy security (SDG 7) (Government of Ireland, 2018).

In 2017, the Government established the National Sustainable Development Unit to carry out those responsibilities. The SDG-specific government entity, the Senior Officials’ Group (SOG) on the SDGs was established to provide support, oversee SDG action and report to the Cabinet. Chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, it is made up of assistant secretaries from all government departments and receives support from the National Sustainable Development Unit and the SDG Interdepartmental Working Group. Each ministry is responsible for the SDG targets in its field of action (Government of Ireland, 2018).

Ireland established a national SDG Stakeholder Forum, chaired by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, to facilitate dialogue among representatives from government entities, civil society, NGOs, the private sector, trade unions and academia. Other networks have also facilitated collaboration on the SDGs, such as Coalition 2030, an alliance of over 100 civil society organisations, and Business in the Community Ireland (Government of Ireland, 2018).

In 2018, Ireland adopted its first SDG National Implementation Plan for the period 2018-2020 (Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, 2018). The Plan integrates the 2030 Agenda into national policies and identifies the government ministries and agencies responsible for each of the SDG targets. The SDG National Implementation Plan builds on Ireland’s current national sustainable development strategy, ‘Our Sustainable Future’ and its policy for international development, ‘One World, One Future’, and commits Ireland to mainstreaming the SDGs across national policy (UN DESA, 2018). 

Ireland submitted a VNR to the UN in 2018.

The government has mandated the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to lead tracking progress towards the SDGs. It is responsible for data collection, analysis, and publication. 

Ireland has a national web-based system for the dissemination of information on the SDGs. The Geohive is its public platform for exploring, downloading, and combining publicly available data relating to the UN and the EU SDGs. Developed as part of a collaborative project between the CSO and Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Geohive utilises state-of-the-art geospatial technology, made available by Esri Ireland, to map Ireland's progress against each goal, using a set of globally and EU-agreed Indicators. This new approach for tracking SDG progress was presented to the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN on 18 July 2018 (UN DESA, 2018).



Breen, P., 2017, Statement by Mr. Pat Breen, T.D. Minister for Employment and Small Business High Level UN Conference to support the Implementation of SDG 14 Life below Water, Republic of Ireland, accessed 20 September 2017.

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, ‘National Implementation Plan 2018 – 2020’, Republic of Ireland, accessed 6 April 2020.

Doyle, A., 2017, Statement by Mr. Andrew Doyle, T.D., Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Republic of Ireland, accessed 15 September 2017.

Government of Ireland, 2018,Ireland: Voluntary National Review 2018 Report on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, Republic of Ireland.

UN DESA, 2017, ‘Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform – Documents and Reports’, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, USA, accessed 20 November 2017.


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.


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