Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Advertisement

Taoiseach to bring proposal to Cabinet to form citizens' assembly on biodiversity

Campaigners have been waiting for the assembly to be called since a biodiversity emergency was declared in 2019.

A curlew in Co Clare. Curlews are one of the species under threat in Ireland
A curlew in Co Clare. Curlews are one of the species under threat in Ireland
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE TAOISEACH PLANS to bring a proposal to Cabinet to form a citizens’ assembly on biodiversity “shortly”.

The long-awaited assembly, which was first raised in 2019 and included in the 2020 Programme for Government, would convene citizens to examine the biodiversity crisis in Ireland.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “I do intend to bring to Cabinet shortly proposals for a citizens’ assembly on biodiversity.”

“I think it’s absolutely critical that we move on this and move with speed and conviction, and I intend to do that.”

A citizens’ assembly on biodiversity was first raised by the previous government in 2019, with the 2020 Programme for Government then saying it would “progress” the establishment of a citizens’ assembly on biodiversity.

However, campaigners have been waiting anxiously for the measure to come to fruition.

In October, environmentalists told The Journal that it was “frustrating” to be still waiting for the assembly to be called.

Friends of the Earth Ireland Director Oisín Coghlan said it was “urgent that the assembly be convened as soon as possible”.

As the climate crisis worsens, animals and plant life are threatened by changes to their ecosystems, causing a rapid acceleration of species becoming extinct.

A major UN report on biodiversity loss in 2019 warned that an unprecedented loss of species will continue to gain pace unless countries take urgent action to tackle it.

The Irish government declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in the same year and at the same time passed an amendment to call for a citizens’ assembly to “examine how the State can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss”.

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan raised the question in the Dáil today, asking the Taoiseach to convene the assembly as a priority.

“I’m asking you to urgently convene a citizens assembly on the biodiversity crisis.
Biodiversity , nature, wildlife, right across the globe is in peril and nowhere more so than right here in Ireland,” O’Sullivan said.

“Climate change, habitat loss, habitat destruction, illegal poisoning have all led to a point where 54 of our bird species are now red-listed. That’s critically endangered,” he said.

“There’s been an 81% loss of wetland species over a 50 year period.

We need to act now. We need to convene a citizens assembly now because we need to start addressing this biodiversity crisis straight away.

Citizens’ assemblies meet to discuss important legal or policy issues in Ireland over months, hearing evidence from experts.

The assembly considers the issue and makes recommendations, reporting back to the Oireachtas.

In a statement, Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan TD said he was “thrilled that we’ll see a Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity this year”.

“It couldn’t come at a more crucial time: 2022 will see the Biodiversity COP in China – the sister event to COP26 in Glasgow – and the development of a new National Biodiversity Action Plan, which will set the trajectory for biodiversity action across Ireland for the next five years. We need the public’s voice at the heart of the national response to the biodiversity crisis, and this Assembly will help us to do that,” Noonan said.

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

“We also need to ensure that the voices of children and young people are part of this conversation. To that end, my Department is currently exploring the development of a Young People’s Biodiversity Assembly and I hope that the outcomes of this initiative can support and inform the main Citizens’ Assembly.

We’ve got a long way to go to alleviate the threats and pressures on biodiversity in Ireland and bring about the scale of restoration and recovery of nature that we need in order to protect these invaluable species and habitats, as well as the ecosystem services that all of humanity depends on for its survival

“I’m hopeful that this Citizens’ Assembly will help us to bring that challenge into focus and, through its deliberations, support a national dialogue on the solutions. 2022 will be a big year for nature.”

About the author:

Lauren Boland

Read next:

COMMENTS (8)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel