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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) summit which begins in New York on Friday, September 25th, could breathe new life into the battle against poverty but the politics must change and the money must flow if they are to live up to their promise, Trócaire has said.
World leaders, including An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, will gather in New York to ratify a new series of global goals which will run until 2030. The goals mark a significant leap beyond the focus of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which they replace, to include goals and targets on issues ranging from equality and full employment to action on climate change and sustainable consumption. Crucially, wealthy countries, including Ireland, will be obliged to account for their progress against these new commitments.
The SDG summit begins tomorrow and will conclude on Sunday. As co-chair of the SDG process, Ireland has received significant praise for its role in securing international agreement on the new global agenda. Expectations are therefore high that Ireland will lead the way on domestic implementation.
Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said that the summit is taking place at a vital time:
“Progress in the poorest countries is often inherently linked to actions taken in wealthier countries. These new targets recognise that link and also the interconnections between poverty, inequality and environmental sustainability. By co-chairing this process Ireland has achieved a diplomatic success. We now need to follow that diplomatic success with political action by setting out a clear timeline for achieving Ireland’s unmet commitment to provide 0.7% of income to overseas development, and by producing an ambitious and effective national plan to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions under the forthcoming climate law.
“A key question that remains unanswered is how progress on the global targets is going to be funded. The World Bank estimates that the SDG targets will take trillions to implement, far in excess of what governments have currently pledged. Proposals to generate significant new finance by clamping down on tax loopholes to stop illicit tax flows depriving Africa of $50bn each year and by placing a minor tax on international financial transactions have not been taken up by Governments, who are instead asking the private sector to step in and fill the gap. There are significant concerns that heavy reliance on the private sector is neither adequate nor appropriate to ensure the delivery of outcomes that governments are ultimately accountable for.”
The SDG summit opens tomorrow with an historic address from Pope Francis. The Pontiff is expected to make an impassioned plea to world leaders to finally begin to make combatting climate change a political priority.
“Pope Francis has been an out-spoken advocate for the world’s poorest people and it is both highly appropriate and highly symbolic that his words will begin the summit,” said Éamonn Meehan. “He has shone a global spotlight on the issue of climate change and has repeatedly spoken of the devastating effect extreme weather is having on communities in the poorest parts of the world. The refugee crisis has woken people up to the human suffering that arises when the root causes of injustice are not addressed and protracted crises are allowed to persist. With every day that passes Pope Francis’ warnings are becoming more urgent’.