David Donoghue On…

Our Project Patron and co-facilitator of the 2030 Agenda, David Donoghue has become a poster boy for Sustainable Development Goals in Ireland.  We had a chat with him before we launched the project to hear about his experience co-facilitating the negotiations and to have his thoughts on what we can do to make sure that we Leave No One Behind


There was a recognition that people at the margins of society, people living in great deprivation didn’t quite feature in the benefits of the Millennium Development Goals, and were ignored, or at least their full significance wasn’t captured in the measure of progress. So for the Sustainable Development Goals there was a greater sense that we have to ensure that we cover and lift up people who are in the most disadvantaged communities

It fell to me to draft a large part of the 2030 agenda… I had an opportunity there to suggest that member states would give prominence to the idea that we would ‘Leave No One Behind’. That we would not merely focus on the mainstream but we would try to reach the poorest people, the most disadvantaged. Of course that’s utopian, but in a way it was important that world leaders would make clear this priority, and we added in a phrase to the effect that the 193 states of the UN will ‘reach the furthest behind first’”.


The fact that the Leave No one Behind promise was given great prominence… gives an important political signal, and it has somehow caught the imagination of people around the world. Leaving no one behind is seen almost as a slogan for the entire 2030 agenda”.

I would think that leave no one behind is a very good fit for the traditional way of thinking in Ireland. Of course that goes back to our own history, our own experience of emigration, our own experience of living in very disadvantaged circumstances. So it makes sense for us and I hope that there will be a strong emphasis on leaving no one behind in Ireland’s own approach to implementation of the SDGs”.


We really have to show that the SDGs are relevant to the poorest and most disadvantaged people. We have to show that there are no favoured agendas… the emphasis on leaving no one behind is actually a very welcome signal that the entre government, the entire world, now sees those marginalised communities as the top priority”.

We need to move this promise forward from rhetoric, or from words to action, and that is the big challenge for everyone”.

It’s important to demonstrate that the pledge to Leave No One Behind is being honoured, that we are holding governments to account for that, and in particular we need to show progress over the next 2 or 3 years. Reach the furthest behind first, that doesn’t mean in 2028, that means right now”.

I hope that the meeting of the High Level Political Form in New York next year in 2019 is one to which heads of state and government will come in order to review progress over the first four years. I hope that that meeting will give a renewed impotence to the cause of Leaving No One Behind because world leaders will have to demonstrate that they meant what they said in 2015”.

We’re all part of the challenge to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, to ensure that No One is Left Behind and to demonstrate that values of decency and inclusion and humanity are still guiding the world today. That means we all have to be part of the solution, no group can be left out, we have to ensure that all the pieces on the board are taken account and we have to ensure that there’s no piece left out of the puzzle”.