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Our World Irish Aid Awards National Finals Address by Minister of State Ciaran Cannon T.D.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here today to the national finals of the 2018 Our World Irish Aid Awards.

This is the thirteenth year of the Awards, which as you know, are run by Irish Aid, Ireland’s official overseas aid programme.

This year, hundreds of primary schools from all over Ireland took part in the Awards.  60 schools made it to the regional finals in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Sligo, and today you are the top 12 finalists out of all of those schools!  

So you have done exceptionally well to achieve this, and have shown that you care and are interested in learning about global issues.

You and your teachers can feel very proud of all your work.

I was so impressed to see your colourful display boards which give a real sense of all the hard work you have put into your projects, and how much you have learnt about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the work of Irish Aid.

Ireland, along with the other countries of the United Nations, has been working very hard for many years – since before you were born in fact – to fight global poverty.

And because all the countries decided to work really hard together as partners, we are now seeing some impressive results.  For example over the past 18 years the number of children getting an education has almost doubled.

The number of extremely poor people in the world has been halved and the number of infants dying as a result of poverty has also been halved.

As you have learnt,  our lives are linked to the lives of people in other countries, and now more than ever before, what happens in one part of the world affects the rest of the world.

We live in a beautiful interconnected world which is full of opportunities, richness and diversity for children of your age.

But we also live in a world that still has serious problems - one big problem for our world is inequality. Although many people have plenty of money and enjoy good lives, there are many millions of people, especially in developing countries, who are living in extreme poverty and hardship – and without hope for their children’s future.

Another big problem is the damage to our planet which is home to all of us; this is now contributing to climate change.

These are some of the biggest dangers facing our world today. But we know we are capable of solving these challenges if we all work together. And that’s why the UN Sustainable Development Goals are so important. 

As your projects show, these Goals aim to make our world better and fairer; to stop climate change and protect the environment, to give every child on the planet the chance to grow up healthy, to have an education and a good future for children and their families everywhere.

These are very big and challenging Goals and we can only achieve them if all countries work together as partners.

Ireland, and the 192 other countries of the United Nations - both rich and poor – have pledged to work together to achieve these Goals by 2030.

All citizens need to be involved and play their part in order to achieve the Goals. 

To do this everyone needs to be informed about this important plan to create a better world and a better future.

By taking part in the Our World Awards you have not only been learning about the Goals but you have spread the word and informed other people in your communities about them.

In your projects on the theme of “Transforming Our World”, you have looked at how all the world is connected, and how quality education can create pathways to success for children everywhere.  

You have learned about school life in Mozambique and the “School in a Box” project, supported by Irish Aid, which helps Mozambican children to benefit from a primary school education.

Also, while we may live thousands of miles away from Mozambique and other countries in the developing world, the way we live our lives make a difference to theirs.

You have come up with many great ideas about what you and other people can do in your everyday lives to help create a better world and a better future for everyone. 

All governments and all citizens need to work together to achieve these important global Goals over the next 12 years.

And this matters greatly to you - because in 2030 you may be 23 or 24 years old. You will want to be living in a world where the environment is safe and protected, and where all children have a fair chance in life.

The Government, on behalf of the Irish people, has promised that Ireland will work really hard with other countries to achieve these Goals, both here and especially in some of the countries where Irish Aid works.

You have begun to play your part, by learning about the Sustainable Development Goals, and also by telling your friends, family and others in your schools, and communities about the Goals.

Taking part in these Awards is one of the best things you can do to become active global citizens who not only care about these issues, but want to do something to make a difference.

From seeing the standard of your projects, I can understand how you were selected as the 12 finalists, and also how hard it must have been for the judges to decide on an overall winner!   The creativity and range of media you have used is truly impressive! Well done to all. 

I want to especially acknowledge all the other projects and schools who competed in the Awards this year.  There were hundreds of entries from all over the country which has created a community of support for the Goals across Ireland, of which we can all be very proud. 

I congratulate all pupils and teachers here today on the great achievement of reaching the finals of the Our World Awards.  I wish to particularly acknowledge your teachers who gave you so much encouragement and guidance, and to your schools who made it possible for you to participate in the Awards and to come to Dublin Castle today.  A very special thank you to your parents and families for their support.

And, now to the part you have been waiting for so patiently – the   presentations of the Awards.  I will now call on Tom to announce the prize-winners of the 2018 Our World Irish Aid Awards.

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