In his keynote address to the second National Biodiversity Conference at Dublin Castle, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin pledged government support for the outcomes of the 2-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 said 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 advisers and all manifestations of state who have a hand in regulating interventions in our land, rivers, lakes, seas and air.”
He added: “The rich tapestry of the natural world has been our inheritance. In many ways we have fallen short in protecting it. But knowing what we know, we can resolve to change our approach and put the protection of nature and climate at the heart of our decision making. The time has come for a new era of stewardship of our natural world. We must follow the science and urgently turn things around for the good of all people and our planet.”
The Taoiseach’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 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”.
The conference was opened by Assistant Secretary General, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Niall Ó Donnchú; followed by speeches by Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Malcolm Noonan of the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage and Senator Pippa Hackett, Minister of State with responsibility for Biodiversity & Land Use at the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.
Delegates also heard from Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Stefan Leiner, the Head of Biodiversity Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment and Ana María Hernández Salgar, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as well as a wide range of national experts and leaders on biodiversity. Post session discussion and Q&As, online polls, and points raised at KPMG and NCI-facilitated NBAP clinic will go to directly inform the fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan.
As the conference closed, Minister of State Noonan said he was very satisfied with how proceedings went and he looks forward to the preparation of the next National Biodiversity Action Plan, to be published in 2023, with a public consultation due to open in late summer of 2022.
He said: "I know that the desire for collective action demonstrated here this week, evidenced by the hugely varied voices we’ve listened to and engaged with, will translate into a robust, ambitious National Biodiversity Action Plan that brings about the new era for nature stewardship.”