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Taoiseach and Minister Breen address Forum on Sustainable Development Goals

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, and Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, addressed the Sustainable Development Goals Stakeholder Forum on July 30th on the progress Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has made towards achieving our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Taoiseach and Minister Breen at the Forum on Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals Stakeholder Forum, organised by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, was established to bring together, those working on, or involved in promotion of the SDGs across Ireland and abroad. The Forum offers a unique opportunity for policy makers, civil society, business and other interested parties to come together to share experiences and information on SDG related activities taking part at a national and international level.

The focus of today’s forum was on SDG 8, “Decent Work and Economic Growth”. Minister Breen highlighted the work that is being undertaken at his Department to achieve the SDGs under their remit. This includes initiatives such as Future Jobs Ireland, the Regional Enterprise Plans, the work of the Local Enterprise Offices and the Climate Action Plan.

Minister Pat Breen said:

“The pursuit of decent work and economic growth is at the core of what my Department seeks to deliver. We are working hard to ensure that Ireland retains its status as one of the EU’s digital frontrunners and that the benefits are felt throughout the country and within all sectors of society. Initiatives such as Future Jobs Ireland and our Regional Enterprise Plans are key contributors to the advancement of Goal 8 which seeks to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.”


Note for editors:

Sustainable Development Goals:

In September 2015, 193 UN Member States, including Ireland, adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to ‘end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all’ as part of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – Transforming our World. The Agenda aims to deliver a more sustainable, prosperous and peaceful future for the entire world, and sets out a framework for how to achieve this by 2030. This framework is made up of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which cover the social, economic and environmental requirements for a sustainable future.

Future Jobs Ireland:

Future Jobs Ireland 2019, is the first in a series of annual reports as part of a multi-annual framework. Future Jobs Ireland outlines longer-term ambitions for the future of the economy out until 2025 taking account of the challenges ahead. Each year, Future Jobs Ireland will set out the steps to deliver on the ambitions with the ultimate goal of increasing the resilience of our economy and future-proofing it.

Each of the Five Pillars of Future Jobs Ireland has high level targets for 2025. Future Jobs Ireland includes 26 ambitions which contain 127 deliverables (actions) for completion in 2019. Each deliverable has a quantifiable output, a lead Department and timeframe.

In terms of implementation, Future Jobs Ireland will be a standing agenda item overseen by Cabinet Committee A. Progress on deliverables will be reported quarterly to the Senior Official Group. Biannually, more detailed progress reports will be made to Government and subsequently published.

Key deliverables for 2019 under each pillar include:

Pillar 1: Embracing Innovation and Technological Change

• Deliver important policy initiatives including an Industry 4.0 Strategy, a National Digital Strategy, and a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy
• Form Top Teams to progress areas of opportunity for Ireland beginning with Artificial Intelligence, GovTech and Offshore Renewables
• Develop Ireland as a centre for developing and testing new technologies by, for example:
o extending the EI/IDA Irish Manufacturing Research Additive Manufacturing technology centre to include cobotics and AR/VR,
o progressing the Advanced Manufacturing Centre,
o expanding the Tyndall National Institute,
o commencing the development of a National Centre of Excellence on High Performance and Nearly Zero Energy Buildings
o commencing the development of a National Design Centre
• With NESC, develop a strategy for Transition Teams to help the transition of vulnerable enterprises and workers

Pillar 2: Improving SME Productivity

• Deliver a new female entrepreneurship strategy
• Develop a new investment funding facility to assist indigenous Irish companies in scaling their businesses
• Encourage the growth of clusters where enterprises can grow and help each other and deepen linkages between foreign and Irish owned businesses
• Increase the impact of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and increase SME take-up of Enterprise Ireland (EI) and LEO productivity supports
• Drive productivity growth in the construction and retail sectors

Pillar 3: Enhancing Skills and Developing and Attracting Talent

• Offer career advice to workers through the Public Employment Service
• Engrain lifelong learning and offer career enhancing opportunities to workers
• Ensure our economic migration system is responsive to our labour market needs
• Promote flexible training options
• Provide training in emerging technologies

Pillar 4: Increasing Participation in the Labour Force

• Conduct a national consultation on extending flexible working options
• Develop guidelines for employers on flexible working options
• Develop a return to work service (e.g. for women returning to the workplace) as part of the Public Employment Service
• Improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities
• Provide incentives for people who wish to work longer

Pillar 5: Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy

• Position Ireland as a centre in research, development and innovation, for smart grids, buildings and renewable technologies
• Review the regional dimension of the economic and employment implications of the transition to a low carbon economy
• Promote electric vehicles and achieve over 10,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of the year
• Deliver a national deep retrofit programme for existing housing stock.

Regional Enterprise Plans:

• The nine Regional Enterprise Plans (covering the period to 2020), build on the very strong progress made on employment creation under the Regional Action Plan for Jobs (2015-2017). These nine Plans take into account today’s new and emerging opportunities and challenges, including Brexit.

• Shaped from the ‘bottom-up’ by regional stakeholders, and overseen by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, the Strategic Objectives in the new Plans complement national level policies and programmes emanating from the ‘top-down’ and there is strong alignment with Ireland’s national enterprise policy, Enterprise 2025 Renewed, Project Ireland 2040 and Future Jobs Ireland.

• The principle behind the Regional Enterprise Plans is collaboration between regional stakeholders on initiatives that can help to realise the regions’ enterprise development potential. These stakeholders include: Local Authorities, the LEOs, the enterprise agencies, the Regional Skills Forum, higher and further education institutes, tourism bodies, private sector ‘enterprise champions’, and others. The objective is that through collaboration, the Plans will add value to the core work of these stakeholders in the regions.

• Each of the Plans is being driven by a Regional Steering Committee chaired by a senior figure from the private sector. Implementation has commenced in all nine regions.

• To complement the Regional Enterprise Plans initiative and help drive collaborative projects that can enhance the potential for enterprise development and jobs growth in the regions, a new €45 million call under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) was announced by Minister Heather Humphreys on the 24th June 2019, with a closing date of the 25th September 2019. Further information on the REDF can be found at

• Further information on the Regional Enterprise Plans can be found at


The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact Press Office, D/Business, Enterprise and Innovation, or (01) 631 2200
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