Saturday, 14 May 2022 – The Chair of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, has officially opened the Assembly’s six-month programme of work with a call for people inside and outside the Assembly to engage with its work in order to confront Ireland’s Climate and Biodiversity Emergency that was declared in 2019.
Dr Ní Shúilleabháin was addressing the 99 other randomly selected members of the Assembly on Biodiversity Loss at its first meeting in Dublin Castle this morning. The meeting heard that this Assembly will continue to meet in-person over the next six months and will seek to address the fundamental issue of how the Irish State can best respond to the challenge of biodiversity loss.
The Assembly is also hearing from a series of national and international experts and academics in the areas of the global biodiversity crisis, Ireland’s own unique land and marine biodiversity and the benefits of biodiversity to the people of Ireland. The meeting is also hearing from broadcaster Ella McSweeney who is challenging members to engage with biodiversity in their everyday lives.
Speaking to members as she opened today’s meeting, Dr Ní Shúilleabháin, thanked them for their participation, but also called on people outside the Assembly to engage its work by viewing proceedings online, making submissions to inform its work, and pausing to think about things they can do to address biodiversity loss.
Dr Ní Shúilleabháin commented, “It is a tremendous personal honour for me to chair this hugely important Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. While Citizens’ Assemblies in Ireland are earning us a strong international reputation involving our people in our democracy, this is, as far as we know, the first that has taken place globally on Biodiversity Loss. We should celebrate that and feel a sense of privilege and pride that the work we do may well be noted by others not only in Ireland but also abroad.
“While the 100 of us here today who are members of the Assembly supported by our invited guests, our Secretariat, and our Expert Advisory Group will be responsible for much of the work, I also want those outside the Assembly to have their say through formal submissions, by watching our meetings virtually or in person, and by telling us what they think.
“The more engagement that we have from people and communities all across the country – young and old, urban and rural – the better informed and richer our recommendations to the Oireachtas will be.
“This work will be done within the backdrop of Ireland having declared a Biodiversity Emergency in 2019, the second country to do so in the world at the time. We are looking at devastating rates of loss of life and habitats across land and sea. Today we are hearing about the scale of the problem we have been asked to consider and over the course of the rest of the year will hear of some successful projects that are underway to try address these issues.
“This is a large and important task to undertake, but it is also a really wonderful opportunity to impact on our country’s policies and actions.”
Today’s meeting includes a video presentation from Professor Robert Watson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, as well as discussions led by academics and experts Dr Ferdia Marnell, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Professor Tasman Crowe, University College Dublin, and Professor Jane Stout, Trinity College Dublin.
Members are also being that the next meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss will take place through an active field-trip to a location in north County Dublin to view examples of Ireland’s rich biodiversity. The field trip will take-place on Saturday 11 June.
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