Speech by Tánaiste to launch the Government of Ireland ODA Annual Report 2022
Speech04 October 2023
*Check against delivery*
Tá lúcháir orm fáilte a chur romhaibh go Teach Uíbh Eachach le haghaidh seoladh Thuarascáil Bhliantúil Chúnamh Éireann 2022. Is comhartha soiléir é do rannpháirtíocht inniu ar bheogacht na hearnála forbartha idirnáisiúnta in Éirinn agus ar thiomantas mhuintir na hÉireann don dlúthpháirtíocht dhomhanda agus do ról ár dtíre sa domhan.
I am delighted to welcome you to Iveagh House for the launch of the 2022 Irish Aid Annual Report. Your participation today is a clear sign of the vibrancy of the international development sector in Ireland and the commitment of the Irish people to global solidarity and to our country’s role in the world.
Two weeks ago, I travelled with the Taoiseach and other Ministers to the UN General Assembly and the SDG Summit. I came back with a clear view of the challenges we face as a global community and the scale of the work required to regenerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
The world today faces multiple, interlocking crises, all in the context of the existential threat of climate change.
With seven years to go, just 15% of the SDG targets have been achieved.
But, following the Summit, there is a sense of re-engagement and of determination to meet the challenge and to reorient our work and our systems, including the international financial architecture, to turbocharge progress in the fight to end global poverty, in all its dimensions.
Ireland has played a leading role. We were there at the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and, working with Qatar, we brokered the Political Declaration adopted by the Summit, following lengthy and difficult negotiations.
The negotiations were never going to be easy, because of the scale of the challenge, but as the UN Secretary General stated at the closing session: “we now have a rescue plan before us in the political declaration”.
We will play our part as a country, not least through our highly regarded international development programme.
The 2022 Annual Report provides detail on the work of Irish Aid in a year marked by conflict and humanitarian crisis. 2022 was the second year of Ireland’s term as an elected member of the UN Security Council, during which we made a real difference, for instance on humanitarian access in Syria, the introduction of a humanitarian sanctions carve-out and the representation and amplification of local, especially women’s voices, from communities directly affected by conflict and crisis.
But the defining development of the year was undoubtedly the brutal, illegal, and immoral Russian war on the people of Ukraine.
It has visited untold suffering on Ukrainian families and had a devastating impact on an already difficult food security situation, especially in Africa.
Ireland has stood firmly with the people of Ukraine. We have provided very significant humanitarian assistance: in fact the Report shows that Ukraine was the top recipient country of Irish ODA in 2022.
We have also provided refuge to, by now, almost 95,000 Ukrainians fleeing their homes with their families.
The eligible first-year costs associated with providing services for these refugees have increased Ireland’s ODA to an all-time high level. We have been very transparent on this internationally, as demonstrated in the Annual Report. And we have not used any of the original ODA allocation, in 2022 or in 2023 for Ukrainian refugee costs.
Despite the crisis in Ukraine – the most significant major war on our European continent in nearly 80 years – we have not turned our back on Africa and other regions or on some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities globally.
Ireland took a lead internationally in highlighting and responding to the threat of famine in the Horn of Africa. We highlighted the impact of the conflict in Ethiopia, from a humanitarian and a human rights perspective. And we are now engaging in support of Ethiopia’s recovery and development.
We have responded at all levels to alarming levels of food insecurity and malnutrition, scaling up our work in countries like Malawi, in cooperation with others, including USAID, and keeping the challenge of global hunger on the international agenda.
We are implementing urgent programmes, with UNICEF, WHO and USAID to tackle the scandal of acute malnutrition among children in Africa.
And we are leading the way in promoting an integrated food systems approach, bringing lessons from our own experience as a country which has transformed its economy and its food and agriculture. Reflecting this priority, we will provide over €284 million in ODA for food, agriculture and nutrition this year alone. An extraordinary contribution from the Irish people, and fitting given our own experience of famine.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in a time of international crisis. But we are also living at a time of unprecedented technological advancement and ever deepening linkages between countries and people.
We surely understand better than ever before the reality of interdependence.
While climate change has had its main impact so far on those who have done least to cause it – the poorest and most vulnerable of communities – no-one in the world can isolate themselves from it. It is driving humanitarian disaster and conflict, and it is forcing us all to confront and change our way of life.
We are living a world that it more interlinked than ever, but we are also facing a crisis of distrust between regions. One of the reasons for that distrust is the perception that we are not living up to our pledges.
I want to repeat here today the commitment we have given as recently as two weeks ago in New York: Ireland will meet the commitment I gave at COP26 in Glasgow to provide at least €225 million in international climate finance annually by 2025.
International development and the fight to end poverty and hunger are more than ever at the heart of Ireland’s foreign policy.
We have a clear Government policy for international development: A Better World. It prioritises gender equality, reducing humanitarian need, climate action and strengthening governance.
Our challenge now is to implement it more effectively and to do so in a more integrated manner, finding solutions on the ground which recognise the interlinked nature of the crises poor and vulnerable communities are facing. I saw how this can be done during my visit to Mozambique in July.
Ireland’s influence and impact in international development requires a collective effort. Government working with civil society, with bilateral partners, with the EU and the UN and with other multilateral partners.
We can be proud that our values of fairness, equality and solidarity continue to shine a light of hope in the lives of so many people around the world.
I acknowledge and commend each of you for your efforts, and I look forward to working in partnership with you all to increase the impact of Ireland’s work in the fight to end poverty and hunger.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh.