Updated 1 hour ago
Dr AOIBHINN NÍ Shúilleabháin, President of the Citizens’ Association on Biodiversity Loss, officially opened the association’s six-month program today, calling on people to help tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency in Ireland announced in 2019.
The New Citizens Council met in person for the first time today to begin its work to form recommendations on how Ireland should address biodiversity loss.
“The more engagement we have from people and communities across the country — young and old, urban and rural — the better and richer our recommendations will be to Oireachtas,” she said, speaking at the event today.
Over the next six months, 99 randomly selected citizens and Ní Shúilleabháin will meet regularly to hear experts and eventually send recommendations to the government on how to restore biodiversity and prevent further loss.
The long-awaited assembly, which was first introduced in 2019 as the government declared a biodiversity emergency, meets physically today at Dublin Castle for the first time since. Officially launched Duration last month.
Talking to the magazineIn and of itself, Dr. Ni Schillaphine, who will address the Assembly today as its President, said [biodiversity] It sounds like a very simple term, but in fact, once you start looking at it, you will find a wide range of areas and issues.”
“We’re going to start our conversation with the association about defining what biodiversity is and framing biodiversity loss, because we have to take a look at what the problem is before we think about addressing it,” she said.
“We have been tasked with the question of how Ireland is addressing the issue of biodiversity loss, so I think from the start that puts us in a position where we are dealing with the crisis of biodiversity loss, we recognize that it is a problem.”
We will talk about our forests, we will talk about our landscapes, we will talk about our peatlands, we will talk about our rivers and estuaries and we will talk about the seas around Ireland.
And that includes all the wild animals and all the plants involved in all of that, too. This is why it is so complex. Once you start scratching the surface, there are many different problems.”
Cabinet approved the creation of the Society for Biodiversity, along with the Society on Local Governance in Dublin, in February, taking the unprecedented step of holding two meetings simultaneously.
Both chambers were launched in a mostly online meeting last month, with Taoiseach telling members via video title “Once again, we are at an important moment in the political and democratic life of this country.”
In 2019, the Irish government declared a climate and biodiversity emergency and passed an amendment calling for a Citizens Council, which has now been formed after nearly three years.
The Society for Biological Diversity will consider threats to biodiversity loss and how to reverse this; The main causes and effects of biodiversity loss; and how to improve government response and measure progress.
Dr Ní Shúilleabháin explained that the association’s first step would be to identify biodiversity and biodiversity loss to understand the complexity of the problem.
“Then, in June, we’ll be doing field trips to two different locations and we’ll look at the seas, and we’ll look at agriculture and freshwater to get a sense of the biodiversity in these fields.
“Then come September, it’s going to have some substantive work. We’ll hear from experts, we’ll hear from advocates, volunteer groups, interest groups and stakeholders.
Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin
Source: Naoise Culhane
“We’re going to hear all the voices, from those who think we’re not doing enough and from those who think we can only do more if we want to risk hurting the economy and things like that,” she said.
“The job of the Citizens Council as a whole, as an exercise in deliberative democracy, is to make sure that the 100 members of the House make informed decisions about the recommendations we will make to government. That’s what we started: a lot of learning, a lot of listening and a lot of conversation.”
“We will be hearing from voices from all over the world but also from the land in Ireland. There are a lot of people who really agree with what is happening in the landscape in Ireland and we want to respect that very much.
“The farmers in the lands are working day in and day out… they know what’s going on and I want to make sure we listen to their contributions as much as we hear from other experts from around the world.”
Biodiversity loss results from factors such as overexploitation of natural resources, habitat loss, and climate crisis.
With every tenth of a degree that global temperatures rise, species and ecosystems in oceans, coastal areas, and on land are threatened also increasedaccording to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Greenhouse gas emissions must be drastically and urgently reduced to frustrate the placement of animals and plant life in unlivable conditions. Indeed, local extinctions caused by the climate crisis are widespread, and the consequences of rising temperatures such as heat waves, sea-level rise and coral bleaching are detrimental to biodiversity.
On top of climate change, other human activities, such as overexploitation of resources with disrespect for the natural environment, lead to biodiversity loss.
“The climate crisis is something that has been highlighted a lot in terms of the extreme weather we are seeing. Biodiversity loss is like a much quieter crisis, because you don’t necessarily tune in to it or hear about it unless something terrible happens, like animals on the verge of extinction,” said Dr. Nei Schillabhen.
“Biodiversity is fundamental in the link to the climate crisis, because when we lose biodiversity, it makes us more vulnerable to things like floods, different types of erosion, things like that. Everything is interconnected.”
a recent study by the Office of Public Works (OPW) found that 90% of respondents wanted to play a role in improving Irish biodiversity, but 56% were unsure of what could be done.
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Dr. Ni Schelabhane said that it would be important that recommendations made to the government at the end of the Assembly period on how to act against biodiversity loss be put into practice.
“What I hope is that the recommendations we are making will be something that is taken very seriously by the government and will be actionable. I take this part of my role as president to make sure that when we make them, we present them in a way that will not be ignored,” the association president said.
“I don’t want them to be left on the shelf,” she said.
We won’t know what they are until the end of the year, but whatever those recommendations are, I’m going to work hard to make sure our politicians understand why those decisions came out and to make sure they take action on them because that’s the purpose of these.
“This whole practice of deliberative democracy is something that I feel strengthens democracy, because you bring in people who represent the whole country,” she said.
“It’s actually much more inclusive and diverse than you might find in any parliament, because our 100 people reflect our population according to CSO statistics.
“We have people who are not necessarily registered voters but are people who live in Ireland, we have farmers, we have people who are not necessarily born in Ireland, we represent 18-24 year olds, we also have a lot of pensioners.
“This is a broad group of people who will represent the country and will make informed decisions on the recommendations that we agree on. I think in and of itself, that is something we should really be proud of.”
Members of the public with views on the topic can submit their thoughts via social media on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok or on Citizens’ websiteToday’s meeting will be broadcast from 11 am.