Our Sustainable Future, a Framework for Sustainable Development for Ireland launched today

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., accompanied by the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, T.D., and Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, today (6th June) published Our Sustainable Future, a Framework for Sustainable Development for Ireland.  The green economy and sustainable development agendas are a key element of Ireland’s economic recovery strategy and the Framework launched today sets out the range of environmental, economic and social measures required to move these agendas forward from vision to reality.  The Framework will be Ireland’s main contribution to the Rio +20 conference on sustainable development which takes place in Rio de Janeiro later this month.


Our Sustainable Future is a joined-up approach to policy making on sustainable development, it sets out 70 measures that will ensure we improve our quality of life for current and future generations and sets out clear measures, responsibilities and timelines in an implementation plan. These include areas such as the sustainability of public finances and economic resilience, natural resources, agriculture, climate change, transport, public health, education, innovation and research, education, skills and training, and global poverty.


While considerable progress has been made in integrating sustainability 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.


Launching the Framework, the Taoiseach commented; “Our Sustainable Future is very deliberately ambitious in both scope and intent. The Green economy is a central plank to our economic recovery and this was recognised in the Action Plan for Jobs 2012. This Framework sets out a medium to long-term plan to guide the essential work we need to do to progress the sustainable development agenda and more fully embrace the green economy in Ireland”.  Emphasising the need to plan now for a future that is truly sustainable, the Taoiseach added; “The Framework doesn’t just focus on the real and present priorities of economic recovery and fiscal stability, but also looks beyond the current economic crisis and forges a vision on how we can transition Ireland to a resource efficient, low-carbon and climate resilient future”.


The Tánaiste highlighted that Our Sustainable Future is based on a joined-up approach to policy making and the vision which it outlines will shape and influence policy across all sectors in the period ahead.  He also emphasised the global perspective within the Framework: “In an interdependent world, Ireland will continue to play a key role in supporting economic development in poorer countries and in eliminating poverty. We have been active in the international arena in advancing the agenda of global food and nutrition security and Ireland will be pushing hard to ensure that this priority is adequately reflected in the outcome from Rio +20.”


Minister Hogan, who will lead Ireland’s representation at the Rio +20 Conference, said that 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 point which has also been highlighted consistently by the OECD.  “My objective is to make Ireland an environmental leader, this is not for ideological reasons but for many practical reasons. As part of our recovery plan, Ireland needs to be clean and green. For our own health, we must be green; for tourism, we must be green; for high-tech industry, we must be green, and for eco-business, we must be green.  The ‘business-as-usual’ approach will not suffice; we require a major reorientation of public and private investment, particularly in terms of innovation, research and development in those areas where we need radically new approaches.  We need a more developed “green economy” focus, achieving a more mutually supportive interface between environmental protection and economic development, while also ensuring that our approaches are socially sustainable. Our Sustainable Future is premised on this and the measures contained within it are designed to position us firmly on the desired path”, Minister Hogan said.


The delivery of the measures outlined in Our Sustainable Future will require a collective approach, involving the active participation of all key sectors and civil society generally. It will be the responsibility for each sector led by the relevant Government Department to implement the elements of the Framework in their respective areas.  A High Level Inter-Departmental Group on Sustainable Development, chaired by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, will coordinate and drive overall implementation of the Framework and will report on progress to the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy, chaired by the Taoiseach, which will provide the essential political oversight for the implementation process.


The Rio +20 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 Conference has two major themes: the green economy and improving international environmental governance.


Our Sustainable Future is available to download from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government website, www.environ.ie.

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