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‘A cog in the wheel’: An important Index for assessing Ireland’s SDGs progress

Published: Friday, 17 December, 2021

Earth Institute members Dr. Aparajita Banerjee and Prof. Patrick Paul Walsh along with Prof. Enda Murphy have recently published the EPA Research Report Framework for Achieving the Environmental Sustainable Development Goals.

Ireland is at a critical point in delivering on its United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) commitments. However, significant gaps exist in the literature on our understanding of Ireland’s current environmental status in relation to the SDGs. The objective of this project was to provide an evidence-based index that could facilitate greater understanding of the current and future role of partnerships for SDGs in Ireland’s transition and transformation to deliver on the goals.

Earth Institute member Dr. Aparajita Banerjee highlighted that,

one of the key points that emerged from our research is that all stakeholder groups should participate to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In this context, it is critical to increase awareness. The UCD Earth Institute provided us unique opportunities to reach out not only within the University community but also the larger community. We got excellent support from the UCD EI in the outreach and communication of our research.”

Image of Doctor Aparajita Banerjee.

What does the report tell us?

This research provides, for the first time, an important evidence base for key stakeholders to gain more insight and understanding in assessing national progress on the environmental SDGs relative to EU peer nations. It provides a framework to understand Ireland’s strengths and weaknesses delivering on each SDG indicator and target. In relation to partnerships, the research identifies the lack of existing multi-stakeholder partnerships in Ireland and the need for policy to pursue state-led multi-stakeholder partnerships for future sustainable development.

How might the research be used?

This research allows us to learn from peer nations that have comparably high SDGs performance levels. In this regard, the research has developed the first target-based SDG index of its kind internationally; it is disaggregated on the basis of SDGs means of implementation, outcomes and linkages that can potentially inform bespoke policy interventions to address shortcomings. Internationally, the research supports Ireland’s future Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the UN and it mirrors the official UN SDG indicator framework. Moreover, it has important implications for Ireland’s future National Stakeholder Forum and wider stakeholder engagement for delivering on the SDGs.

Image of Professor Patrick Paul Walsh.

Commenting on the role of the Earth Institute Prof. Patrick Paul Walsh said,

Feedback and suggestions from the EI Thursday Coffee mornings were excellent.  Interdisciplinary perspectives are at the centre of good work on the governance of the Sustainable Development Goals. EI also gives a nice platform for communicating research to the broader community, Earth Talks are a good example (I did one).”

You can read the full report here.