In his keynote address to the second National Biodiversity Conference at Dublin Castle today (Thursday, June 9), An Taoiseach Micheál Martin pledged government support for the outcomes of the two-day event, saying “the time has come for a new era of stewardship of our natural world”.
The Taoiseach said the deliberations “are vitally important to the future of our country” and will inform future decision making.
He added that biodiversity loss “will only be successfully tackled as an all-of-government and all-of-society project, which will require the vigilance of planners, local authorities, agricultural advisors and all manifestations of state who have a hand in regulating interventions in our land, rivers, lakes, seas and air”.
The Taoiseach admitted that society has fallen short of protecting the natural world.“
Micheál Martin’s speech also addressed all-island engagement, climate change, community involvement and the role of results-based payments.
He said from a farming perspective, results-based, community-level projects are “the way forward for nature” and he praised those who have signed up to such schemes.
The Taoiseach said he was happy with progress on shaping the fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan which he dubbed “Ireland’s keystone policy for the recovery and restoration of nature”.
Yesterday, delegates heard from Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Stefan Leiner, the head of biodiversity unit at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment as well as others.
Ministers Darragh O’Brien, Malcolm Noonan and Pippa Hackett, and a wide range of national experts and leaders on the environment also addressed the conference over the two days.
Plenary sessions held over two days are expected to directly inform the fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan.
As the conference closed, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan announced a number of strategic pledges, on top of yesterday’s announcements.
- An additional €17 million to support breeding waders and their habitats in the wider countryside;
- A commitment to fast-track the recruitment of biodiversity officers in every Local Authority within three years. Six will be appointed in 2022, bringing to 11 the number in place by the end of the year;
- €1.5 million to support varied initiatives that work with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) teams across critical areas in research, engagement and policy;
- The Farming for Nature Project will benefit from increased funding to support its development and outreach in engaging with farmers, enabling knowledge-sharing and delivering peer learning to support biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes;
- The National Biodiversity Forum to expand its role to do more in the science-policy space to support effective evidence-based action;
- The All-Ireland Climate and Biodiversity Research Network to design and synergise research that supports integrated climate and biodiversity policy measures;
- €300,000 will be provided to support the monitoring stream of BIODIVERSA, the European biodiversity partnership supporting research on biodiversity.