Groups push for a Citizen Assembly on biodiversity loss in Ireland
Just over two years ago, the Dail announced a climate and biodiversity emergency and called for the Citizens Assembly to explore how the State intended to improve its response to the scale of biodiversity loss.
The proposed measures confirmed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party back in 2020 committed to accelerating measures to protect biodiversity but the scale of progress has been relatively slow. In the last month, over 20 civil society organisations, environmental and trade union groups published an open letter urging the Government to deliver its promise and confirm a date for the Citizens Assembly. The open letter requested the Government to ensure that a constitutional right for a clean, safe, healthy and sustainable environment would be on the agenda and action would be taken to tackle the biodiversity crisis within the transition process. Unfortunately, the deadline for this action has now passed, and no date has been proposed.
Recently Malcolm Noonan, the Green Party TD and Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, communicated with the campaign pressure by confirming a new global biodiversity framework are expected to be announced at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Noonan stated that Ireland’s next national biodiversity action plan follows these global objectives and is due to be published in 2022. Noonan explains that he hoped that the Citizens Assembly on biodiversity loss would follow the new Global framework and support further action in Ireland.
In response to the recent developments, Climate Case Ireland contacted the Taoiseach and Noonan stating that the next national biodiversity action plan should be managed by the people and that immediate contact with the Citizens Assembly was vital. Climate Case Ireland have highlighted that the priority of the Citizens Assembly is to ensure that the opinions and concerns of the public are represented in policy and that they should convene as soon as possible after the biodiversity framework is confirmed in October.
The Government recently acknowledged the necessity to incorporate further recognition of environmental rights. Earlier this year, Ireland and 68 other countries signed a plan for the UN Human Rights Council stating that a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment was critical to enable the full enjoyment of human rights. In recent years, we have witnessed the power of constitutional referendums in driving significant change across the country. The proposed Citizen Assembly on the loss of biodiversity is a chance for environmental rights to be solidified further within the plans of Ireland.