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”.

Michael Doorly of Concern on…..

At ATD we count ourselves lucky to have the support of Concern to conduct the Leave No One Behind Project. We spoke to Michael Doorly, Head of Active Citizenship at Concern, to have their position on the Sustainable Development Goals and why Concern were interested in the Leave No One Behind Project.

The Sustainable Development Goals
“We think everyone needs to be talking about the SDGs, so there needs to be conversations going on everywhere, with all sorts of groups, a lot of ‘not traditional’ groups, I suppose. Oftentimes we only talk to government and to other big funders, but Leave No One Behind Conversations is involving the public in this agenda.”

“These are global goals, they’re not just goals for the developing world. They’re not just goals for Africa, or India, or other places, but they’re goals for all of us. And in fact we call them goals, but in essence they’re rights, they’re human rights, you know? ”

“This agenda is not going to be delivered without passion. We oftentinemes like to think that it’s just governments holding us back, and oftentimes they are, they’re not doing enough, but it’s so many other actors as well that need to be playing their part. So it’s precisely these kind of conversations, and the groups and networks that ATD works with that will help deliver on that. ”

Leaving No One Behind at a Global Level

“‘Leave No One Behind’ in areas of conflict in the world are extremely difficult because oftentimes you don’t get access, with governments or warring parties don’t allow humanitarian assistance in. The victims, mostly women and children, and the elderly, simply have no one there to help. You know, we think of Syria, we think of Yemen, we think of the Congo, other places that at the moment are just, you know, living in hell, and we’re not able to reach them in the way we should.”

“Sadly, 785 million people still go to bed hungry each night, it’s chronic and it’s persistent and it is something that we absolutely could end, but we’re just not doing. Since 1990, absolutely, the numbers have gone down, as have the numbers living on less than one dollar and twenty-five cents a day, and you know that’s the glass half full, a lot of good stuff. But it is, it’s getting those numbers who still haven’t gotten out of poverty, who still are going to bed hungry, that we have to continue to work on.”

Gender Equality

“We would obviously have seen gender equality as a core to development, there would be no development without that level of equality, and the challenge for us now is to engage men more in that, to engage men more in domestic duties, to tackle instances of domestic abuse as well. But men and women, together, must deliver on the development agenda, it can’t only be an agenda for one gender, it must be both”

“Women were ‘joiners’. So you’d set up a microfinance group and it would be the women who would join the group, or you’d set up other literacy groups, and it would be women who would join the groups. Men tend not to be joiners in that sense, they might stand outside and they might keep an eye on it, but they wouldn’t be joining the group. So it was to try and find ways that we could involve men, in ways that they were comfortable with, and in ways that would begin to break down some of their fears about engaging.”

The role of Irish citizens’ in keeping the LNOB promise

“It is that idea of ‘bigger than self’. Beyond us, what’s our role in the world and what makes us proud, in a sense, to be living in Ireland? What should Ireland be doing in terms of our neighbours, not just geographic, but globally? What are the values that we hold as people living in Ireland? That we are open, that we do have respect, that we do believe that we have a duty to help others. And you know, we hear so much bad news about everything nowadays, including that we’re becoming so insular in Ireland, and so wrapped up in ourselves. But I think we’re bigger than that, I think we do have this global spirit about us, and that we are willing to help in whatever way we can and for some people it’s financial, and for some people it is their time. It is that sense of ‘Ireland’s role in the world’ and what voice do we have when our government leaders go to UN meetings, when they go to European Union meetings? We see this ‘not in my name’, but what do we want ‘in my name’? You know, ‘I want Ireland to defend the 0.7% aid budget’, ‘I want Ireland to be leading, as we have been with David Donoghue, on the Sustainable Development Goals’. That’s the stuff I want ‘in my name’.”

“In the introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals, Ban Ki Moon talks about reaching the hardest to reach first, and how absolutely important that is. We often talk about the glass of water that’s half full or half empty, we see the glass of water, since we began to get a measure of the Millennium Development Goals, as half full. In a sense filling it half full has been the easy part, I think filling it the rest of the way is the difficult part, and that’s where we absolutely need everyone involved.”

Launch of the Leave No One Behind Conversations

The ‘Leave No One Behind’ Conversations, a joint project between ATD Fourth World Ireland and Concern Worldwide, will be launched by David Donoghue, this coming Tuesday, April 17th. The launch will take place during the Sustainable Ireland Conference in Croke Park (Hogan Suite). The conference itself is the first one of its kind in Ireland and it is expected that 180 people will be in attendance from around the country: from citizens, to students, to academia, to civil societies, civil servants, and members of the Government

The United Nations 2030 Agenda contain 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which Ireland signed up to in 2016. These goals tackle issues relating to poverty, gender, the environment, and much more.

Within this document, signed by 193 countries in total, there contains a promise to ‘Leave No One Behind’. Governments agreed to delivered the Goals and ensure that every country, group and individual benefits equally from the progress and realisation of the goals. No Goals will be considered to have been met unless it is met by everyone. This means putting the needs and interests of the furthest behind first.

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

David Donoghue, Project Patron.

We want to start a Conversation about the SDGs and to discuss what the Leave No One Behind Promise means to you. We are organising Conversation workshops for schools, youth groups, community organisations and anyone else that is interested in getting involved. We hope to put together a Leave No One Behind: Walking the Talk video and handbook that will include contributions from those who participate in the project.

The Conference in its entirety will run from 9:30am to 4:30pm on Tuesday, April 17th. However, the ‘Leave No One Behind’ Conversation Series specifically will be launched by David Donoghue, the Project Patron, at 1:30pm, shortly before the lunchtime break. We will also be present with a stand at the conference with additional material relating to the Conversation Series available there.