Ireland’s progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is assessed

Social Justice Ireland published a report this week ‘Measuring Progress: Sustainable Progress Index 2024’ assessing Ireland’s progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals against 14 other comparable EU countries.

The analysis covers 3 dimensions: economy, society and environment. While Ireland ranks in the middle on the social and economic dimensions it trails towards the bottom of the ranking on the environment index and this is happening at the mid-term of the period (2015-2030) for the SDG targets to be met.

The 14 countries in the comparison have similar level of economic activity and are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Overall Ireland is ranked 11th out of these 14 countries on the Environment SDG Index.

  • SDG6 Clean water and sanitation, owing to lack of access to drinking water and wastewater services and treatment requirements Ireland ranked 11th.
  • SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy, to lack of renewable energy and high emissions resulted in Ireland being ranked 14th.
  • SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities, while air pollution is high Ireland scored well here 2nd among the 14 countries.
  • SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production, Ireland generates a lot of waste and recycling rates are low so Ireland scored 10th .
  • SDG 13 Climate action, emissions are well above the EU average so ranked 9th
  • SDG 14 Life below water, covers ocean protections and Ireland ranked 8th out of 12.
  • SDG 15 Life on land, the red list for biodiversity loss is not good and forestation levels are low, gave a score of 7th place for SDG 15.

The report is prepared by Social Justice Ireland with support from the Department of Rural and Community Development and POBAL.

Sustainable Progress Index 2024 Web Version.pdf (

Social Justice Ireland made some Policy recommendations including:

A proposal for a policy framework for a new Social Contract that identifies 5 key policy outcomes: A vibrant economy; Decent services and infrastructure; Just taxation; Good governance and Sustainability.

Each of these can be achieved through the full delivery of the 11 dimensions of the Government’s Well-being Framework and the 17 SDGs. However, this will only be realised through transformational change and integration at all levels of Government, supported by real social dialogue and participation so that all communities have a say.

The Forum recognise the need for similar integration and public participation to achieve the water quality outcomes required under the Water Framework Directive.

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