The Government has published a new draft Framework for Sustainable Development for Ireland for public consultation. While considerable progress has been made in integrating sustainable principles into public policy making in Ireland since the first national strategy in this area was published in 1997, significant gaps remain across a range of economic, social and environmental policy areas. Drawing on the model established by the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, the draft Framework for Sustainable Development concentrates on gaps where limited progress has been made and which still present formidable challenges.
It is widely recognised, at both UN and EU levels, that it is not possible to achieve sustainable development goals without advancing the green economy, a fact which has also been highlighted consistently by the OECD.
Phil Hogan TD, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, comments: “The ‘business-as-usual’ model is no longer fit for purpose if we are to put Ireland on a low carbon, climate resilient and economically competitive path. We need to craft a new vision for Ireland for the future, thinking beyond our current economic challenges and coming up with measures that will be both effective and implemented in a joined-up way. A central plank of Ireland’s economic recovery will centre on the development of a green economy that is alive to the opportunities for investment and employment creation in emerging sectors such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and waste and water management, and recognises how this sustainable approach to economic development complements the core strengths of the economy in the use of natural resources.”
The Framework is intended to provide a means for advancing the green economy agenda in Ireland, taking account of the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, environmental and social. The Framework will form a central element of Ireland’s contribution to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012. This major conference marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit). The objective of the conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and identify the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development.
The delivery of the measures outlined in the Framework will require a collective approach involving partnership with all key sectors and civil society. To encourage all interested parties to submit their views, a special seminar on the draft Framework will be held on 24 January 2012. “As stakeholder buy-in is critical to the successful implementation of the Framework, it is important that all of the relevant stakeholders study the draft now being released for consultation and submit their comments. This will provide very valuable input into the process of finalising the Framework which I expect to conclude in the second quarter of 2012,” he says.
The draft Framework for Sustainable Development in Ireland is now available for public consultation and may be downloaded on the web pages of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (www.environ.ie).