National Biodiversity Conference to progress Ireland's response to the global biodiversity crisis –

From Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage 
Published on 7 June 2022
Last updated on 7 June 2022
An upcoming government conference will inform and advance Ireland’s next National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP). The National Biodiversity Conference will take place from 8-9 June both in person at Dublin Castle and virtually. Over 400 stakeholders from NGOs, academia, government departments and members of the public, will hear from international and Irish experts on diverse topics affecting biodiversity, such as forestry and agriculture, along with sessions on community action for biodiversity, and the role of media and businesses in addressing the biodiversity crisis.
The conference will be opened by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan and will feature a keynote address from Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Discussions at this conference will feed into the next National Biodiversity Action Plan, a roadmap for an all-of-government, all-of-society approach to the global biodiversity crisis, due to be published in 2023. The NBAP is led by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, a division of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
National biodiversity strategies and action plans are the main national planning instrument for the protection of biodiversity containing national targets and actions aligned with regional and global biodiversity targets. The post-2020 global biodiversity framework will be adopted at COP 15 in Kunming, China later this year.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary from the United Nations Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity will deliver opening remarks at the conference and will tell the audience that:
"Now is the time for all countries to scale up ambition and actions to halt biodiversity loss and to be thinking forward to the implementation of the 2050 vision of‘living in harmony with nature."
She will also point to the need for an ambitious and transformative post-2020 global biodiversity framework, supported with adequate means of implementation.
Stefan Leiner, head of Biodiversity from the EU Commission will provide an overview of the ambitious EU Biodiversity Strategy under the EU Green Deal. Actions taken to support this Strategy will contribute to the global vision.
Also addressing the conference will be Ana María Hernández Salgar, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, an independent intergovernmental body established to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity. She will point to the planned negotiations in Kunming as a generational window of opportunity that we “cannot let pass.”
Among those presenting over the two days will be Ella McSweeney, Professor Tasman Crowe, Cara Augustenborg and Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett.
Ireland’s National Biodiversity Plan will improve the governance of biodiversity in Ireland so that we can better respond to the biodiversity crisis. This means ensuring a ‘whole of government’ and a ‘whole of society’ approach to this crisis, and properly recognising biodiversity’s contributions to people, the economy and society. The Plan will also address the connections between biodiversity and climate change, and the need to enhance the evidence base for biodiversity conservation policy and practice. The final version of the Plan will be published in early 2023, to allow the recommendations of the ongoing Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity to also be incorporated. The development of the plan follows increased resourcing to the National Parks and Wildlife Services with a 64% budget increase since 2020 and an independent review of the NPWS published in May 2022, leading to a fully-funded strategic action plan to transform the organisation and better enable it to deliver positive outcomes for nature.
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan commented:
“This conference marks three years since the Dail declared a biodiversity emergency. We know it’s time to act now for nature, both at home and around the globe. The natural world is in crisis and it’s because of our decisions – we need to make better ones that are based on science, informed by local knowledge, delivered by the communities that know the landscape best, and funded and supported by Government and society as a whole. We all value nature, now more than ever. It’s time to put it at the heart of our decision-making and ensure that the web of life that we all depend on can be restored, protected and made resilient for the future.”
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien said:
“The diversity of groups and disciplines signed up to attend the National Biodiversity Conference really reflects the reality: that biodiversity is an all-of-government, all-of-society issue, and that we all have a role to play in addressing it. This is something I am keenly aware of as we continue our work across Government to develop Ireland’s fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan. I want to see an ambitious Plan that reflects the scale and urgency of Ireland’s biodiversity emergency, embraces the restoration and protection targets outlined in the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy, and embeds the commitment needed to ensure its actions are delivered.”
The full conference programme and list of speakers can be found on the conference website.
The conference organisation and event management has been led by Natural Capital Ireland, a group of organisations and individuals from academia and public, private and NGO sectors interested in the development and application of the natural capital agenda in Ireland.
The draft objectives of the NBAP are:
Objective 1: Foster a Whole of Government, Whole of Society Approach to Biodiversity
Proposed actions include capacity and resource reviews across Government; determining responsibilities for the expanding biodiversity agenda; providing support for communities, citizen scientists and business; and mechanisms for the governance and review of the NBAP.
Objective 2: Meet Urgent Conservation and Restoration Needs
Supporting actions will build on existing conservation measures. The protected area network will be expanded to include the Marine Protected Areas. The drafting of Site-Specific Conservation Objectives will be continued. Efforts to tackle Invasive Alien Species will be elevated. The ambition of the EU Biodiversity Strategy will be considered as part of an evolving work programme across Government.
Objective 3: Recognise Nature’s Contribution to People
Objective 3 will introduce actions that highlight the relationship between nature and people in Ireland. This includes recognising the tangible and intangible values of biodiversity, promoting nature’s importance to our culture and heritage and recognising how biodiversity supports our society and our economy.
Objective 4: Embed biodiversity at the heart of climate action
Supporting actions recognise that achieving climate and biodiversity objectives should be mutually supportive and that nature-based solutions are a fundamental part of action for climate and biodiversity.
Objective 5: Enhance the Evidence Base for Action on Biodiversity
Objective 5 focuses on biodiversity research needs, as well as the development and strengthening of long-term monitoring programmes that will underpin and strengthen future decision making.
Objective 6: Strengthen Ireland’s contribution to international biodiversity initiatives
Objective 6 aims to strengthen Ireland’s contribution to international biodiversity initiatives, including a shared island approach.
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