Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss are as follows:

A Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, with a total of 100 members including an independent Chairperson and 99 randomly-selected members of the public, shall be convened to examine how the State can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss, and to bring forward proposals in that regard

The Assembly considered, inter alia:

  • the international, European, national, regional and local dimensions to the biodiversity emergency;
  • the threats presented by biodiversity loss and the opportunities to reverse this loss;
  • the main drivers of biodiversity loss, their impacts and the opportunity of addressing these drivers;
  • the perspectives of the general public, representative groups, advocacy groups, experts and policy makers on biodiversity loss, and its impact on Ireland;
  • opportunities to develop greater policy coherence and strategic synergies between biodiversity policy and other policy priorities including, but not limited to, economic development, climate action, sustainable development, agriculture and tourism;
  • opportunities to promote greater public understanding of, and support for, urgent action in response to the biodiversity emergency; and
  • opportunities to improve the State’s response to the challenge of biodiversity loss, how that response can best be resourced and implemented in a strategic and coordinated manner, and how progress can be measured.

The Assembly shall:

  • commence and run in parallel with the Dublin Citizens’ Assembly;
  • hold its inaugural meeting in April 2022;
  • adopt a work programme designed to allow for the completion of consideration of the topics within an eight-month period;
  • conclude its work and submit its report ideally no later than nine months from its date of commencement, and sooner if possible;
  • have authority to determine a revised timeline for completion in the event of unexpected disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic or other extraordinary circumstances;
  • implement continuous improvement and adopt innovative working methods informed by learnings from previous Citizens’ Assemblies and international best practice, including in relation to the methodology for member recruitment, to the running of Assemblies subject to public health measures, and to developing internal capacity to ensure the quality of the deliberative process;
  • preclude from membership of the Assemblies any individual who is either:
    • (i) a politician currently serving in either House of the Oireachtas or the European Parliament;
    • (ii) a lobbyist as provided for under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015; or
    • (iii) a person unwilling to commit to adhering to public health measures as prescribed by Government and public health authorities from time to time;
  • have a Chairperson appointed for a period of up to twelve months, with scope to extend the term should circumstances warrant, and that an honorarium should be paid to the Chairperson based on a per diem rate to be sanctioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform;
  • make payment of a nominal honorarium to Assembly members to recognise their civic commitment;
  • have staff assigned to provide a Secretariat to the Assembly and to support the Chairperson;
  • agree its own rules of procedure and work programme to enable the effective conduct of its business in as economical and efficient a manner as possible;
  • determine all issues by a majority of the votes of members present and voting, other than the Chairperson who will have a casting vote in the case of an equality of votes;
  • operate in an open and transparent manner, including by live streaming public proceedings; and
  • make a report and recommendation(s) to the Houses of the Oireachtas on the matters before it. On receipt, the Houses of the Oireachtas will refer the report of the Assembly for consideration to a relevant Committee of both Houses; the Committee will, in turn, bring its conclusions to the Houses for debate. Furthermore, the Government will provide in the Houses of the Oireachtas a response to each recommendation of the Assembly and, if accepting some or all of the recommendations, will indicate the timeframe it envisages for implementing those recommendations.

Oireachtas Debates

In February 2022, both Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann debated the establishment of the Citizens’ Assemblies before passing Resolutions.

Watch the debate in Dail Éireann (on Oireachtas TV

Scroll forward to 01:34:40 for the Motion on Citizens’ Assemblies

Read the transcript of the debate in Dáil Éireann.

Watch the debate in Seanad Éireann (on Oireachtas TV).

Scroll Forward to 06:14:25 to watch the Motion on Citizen’s Assemblies

Read the transcript of the debate in Seanad Éireann.