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Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss are Integrated, Urgent Challenges on a Shared Island


Opening today’s online launch event, Climate and Biodiversity Ambition: Shared Island as a Catalyst, Director of the National Economic and Social Council Dr Larry O’Connell said ‘there is a deep, shared experience of addressing climate and biodiversity challenges across the island. The work of researchers, NGOs, businesses, practitioners, public bodies presenting today, provides a solid foundation to deliver on climate and biodiversity ambition, North and South’.

The event showcased examples of this ambition, existing collaborations and future opportunities. Hosted by the National Economic and Social Council in association with the Shared Island unit in the Department of the Taoiseach, this event formed part of a week-long series of online events showcasing the Government’s Shared Island initiative.

Consultation highlights an appetite for collaboration on climate and biodiversity

The launch event featured examples of existing collaborations across the island. It included findings from a new report from the National Economic and Social Council, Collaboration on Climate and Biodiversity: Shared Island as a Catalyst for Renewed Ambition & Action. Forming part of a wider body of work on Shared Island for the Department of the Taoiseach, this NESC report examines the particular challenges and opportunities of climate change and biodiversity loss across the island, drawing on an extensive consultation with stakeholders, north and south. Extensive consultation and research informed this report, including 64 submissions and 38 interviews with people from a range of organisations.

Speaking at the event, Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan, T.D. said “I welcome this report from the National Economic and Social Council, launched here today, which provides really valuable insights on how we can do more together on climate and biodiversity issues. The climate emergency and biodiversity crisis is a major, connected challenge that affects everyone on this island.

“The Council’s recommendations, on how to build consensus on an agenda for deeper cooperation, follow broad consultation and have real potential.

“The Council’s report will inform our commitment, under the Programme for Government and the revised National Development Plan, to work for a more sustainable island, in partnership with the Executive, the UK Government, and local authorities and civil society across the island of Ireland.”

Significant scope to strengthen cooperation and collaboration

Speakers from across the island discussed shared experiences, networks and outlined opportunities for future development. These included:

  • The successful network and collaborations in the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan- Dr Una Fitzpatrick, Senior Ecologist, National Biodiversity Centre.
  • The potential of the circular economy- Professor Michael Morris, Director AMBER (Advanced Materials and BioEngineering) Research Centre and School of Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin.
  • The value of an all-island climate and biodiversity research network- Professor Tasman Crowe, Director of the Earth Institute at University College Dublin.

Together with the NESC consultation, these contributions point to the potential to develop a sustainable island through cooperation, collaboration and shared ambition.

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NESC Work on Shared Island
This paper is published as part NESC’s ongoing Programme of Research on the Shared Island initiative. NESC is undertaking this work at the request of the Department of the Taoiseach to produce a comprehensive report on Shared Island in 2022.

The NESC research will contribute to building a shared knowledge base and understanding about possible ways in which greater co-operation can emerge across a number of economic, social and environmental areas in Ireland, North and South, and also between these islands East and West. The research will not address the constitutional question, but will focus on sustainable economic, social and environmental development issues in line with NESC’s strategic remit.

The Government’s Shared Island initiative aims to harness the full potential of the Good Friday Agreement to enhance cooperation, connection and mutual understanding on the island and engage with all communities and traditions to build consensus around a shared future.