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September: UN Sustainable Development Goals

UN Sustainable Development Goals Negotiations

In 2014, the President of the UN General Assembly appointed Ireland’s UN Ambassador in New York, David Donoghue, and his Kenyan counterpart  Machiara Kamau, to lead negotiations between world governments on  a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to follow the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs) which were due to expire at the end of 2015.

The aim was to deliver an ambitious plan that would complete the work of the MDGs on poverty eradication but would also address environmental degradation and climate change, and build a more peaceful, fair and sustainable world.

Throughout 2015, Ireland and Kenya brought together all UN member states, representatives of civil society, the private sector and others to reach agreement on this new development agenda.

In an historic moment on 2nd August, Ambassador Donoghue and Ambassador Kamau informed a  gathering of all UN Member States that agreement had been reached and presented the final text: “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Formally adopted by leaders of the world’s 193 countries at a special UN Summit held in September 2015, the agreement consists of 17 SDGs, backed up by 169 specific targets over a wide range of areas that continue efforts to eliminate poverty but also address challenges in areas as diverse as energy, food, water, climate, peace, governance, jobs and urbanization. The Taoiseach led the Irish delegation on the opening day of the Summit and President Higgins and Minister of State for Development Cooperation, Mr. Sean Sherlock TD, also participated.

The 17 SDGs are universally applicable – meaning they apply to both developed and developing countries, and are as relevant to Ireland as any other country.

Role of Ireland

Ireland’s appointment to the co-facilitator role was a huge honour for our country and a great responsibility. It was testament to Ireland’s standing internationally and particularly to the excellent reputation of our overseas aid programme, Irish Aid, our proud record of promoting human rights and our long-standing participation in UN peacekeeping across the world.

The ultimate success of Ireland’s role was especially significant as 2015 marked both the 70th anniversary of the United Nations and the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s membership of the organisation.

Further information on the SDGs is available at