The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has called for a new, strong law which will put biodiversity protection and restoration on a par with addressing the challenges of climate change.

In a submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, the IWT made a number recommendations, which the trust believes are critical to address the biodiversity crisis in a timely and meaningful manner.

Besides a strong Biodiversity Act, recommended actions also include a call to “beef up” the independent Biodiversity Forum, enabling it to hold the government to account for its commitments.

Commenting on the work of the Citizens’ Assembly, campaigns officer for the IWT, Pádraic Fogarty said:

“The work of the Citizens’ Assembly over the coming months is vitally important in shaping our response to the crisis. The members of the assembly have a unique opportunity to transform the foundations of our relationship with nature, which we hope they will seize.”

Other measures outlined by the IWT to address the biodiversity crisis, include:

  • Committing to protect 30% of land by 2030 as part of the ‘Global Deal for Nature’ which is due to be agreed at COP15 in December 2022;
  • Reforming state bodies, particularly Coillte, the Office of Public Works and Bord na Móna, so that they are mandated to address the biodiversity crisis;
  • Changing our Constitution to provide for the rights of nature;
  • Launching a broad and deep education campaign to reconnect us with the wonders of nature around us, and to explain why the crisis matters.

The assembly addresses main issues, including state leadership to implement commitments already made, as well as to increase the ambition needed to restore ecosystems and the reconnection of people with the inherent value of nature through education; and a change to the Constitution, according to Fogarty.

Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss

The Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss comprises 100 members including an independent chairperson and 99 randomly selected members of the public.

Assembly members are to examine how the state can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss, and to bring forward proposals in this regard.

The assembly shall conclude its work and submit its report ideally no later than nine months from its date of commencement, and make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The government will provide, in the Houses of the Oireachtas, a response to each recommendation of the assembly and, if accepting some or all, will indicate the timeframe it envisages for implementing those recommendations.