The Citizens’ Assembly Report recommendations will aim to restore Ireland’s relationship with nature at a time of unprecedented biodiversity loss.
MEP Grace O’Sullivan today welcomed the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, launched by Chair of the Assembly Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shuillibheáin. The report, crafted over several meetings of 99 participants from May 2022 to January 2023, contains over 150 recommendations that will improve the quality of biodiversity and allow nature to regenerate on the island.
Having just completed a biodiversity-focused field trip to Bray, Co. Wicklow, MEP O’Sullivan noted the importance, abundance and variety of biodiversity that Ireland has to offer. A trained ecologist, she said she recognises the significance of this report in a country that has a poor track record of protecting wildlife and the unique biosphere of the island of Ireland.
“Our natural environment forms the foundation on which we can build our societies and economy. I feel that unfortunately many of us – particularly policymakers – have lost touch with this natural side of Ireland in recent years, and its importance in ensuring that we have a healthy, viable place to live. By ensuring that this landscape is healthy and thriving, we will be ensuring that Ireland’s people can be healthy and thriving. The biodiversity report released by the Citizens Assembly echoes this and will play a key role in protecting the future of Ireland’s biodiversity”, the MEP shared.
The Report recommends that the State must take prompt, decisive and urgent action to address biodiversity loss and restoration and must provide leadership in protecting Ireland’s biodiversity for future generations. Another recommendation signifies the urgency of protecting areas and species of High Nature Value across Ireland, through management plans which include restoration programmes.
The report that was conducted by the Citizens Assembly also proposes a series of changes to the Constitution to ensure people have a right to a clean, healthy, and safe environment. The reality of needing to protect nature in order to protect humans is highlighted through the Assembly’s recommendation that nature be provided with protections within the constitution to allow it to continue to provide the necessities of life. These necessities include food, clean freshwater and air, in addition to a clean and healthy environment, which supports all of our communities.
Some sectors which were mentioned in the report as a result of their connection with biodiversity include that of agriculture, freshwaters, marine and coastal environments, peatlands, forestry/woodlands/hedgerows, protected sites and species, invasive species, and urban and built environments. O’Sullivan, who works directly with ocean protection at an EU level says that “the importance of biodiversity within our oceans is often an aspect which is overlooked, but healthy oceans are integral to an overall healthy environment, and I will continue to fight for this on both an Irish and EU level.”