Open letter to First Minister and deputy First Minister calls out ‘unambitious’ Environment Strategy

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An open letter has been sent to Northern Ireland’s First and deputy First Ministers highlighting concerns around the executive’s draft Environment Strategy.

The letter, signed by 34 organisations and individuals, including the RSPB Northern Ireland, states the strategy “does not adequately address the nature and climate emergency”.

The draft Environment Strategy, which was published by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive, has been out for a period of consultation and closes today.

Key experts and organisations, including RSPB NI, are sending a clear message that the ambition in the draft strategy must be raised, with stronger targets needed.

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The signatories agree that the executive must act with urgency and ambition to create a climate-safe, nature-rich, healthy world and that the strategy should recognise that the nature and climate emergency is “one of the defining issues of our time and Northern Ireland is no exception”.

Joanne Sherwood, RSPB NI director, commented: “We welcome this Environment Strategy consultation but are concerned that it will not adequately address the nature and climate emergency we are facing locally.

“Northern Ireland has been ranked the 12th worst out of 240 countries for biodiversity loss. “Therefore, it is essential that our politicians and government act now, matching the severity of the issue with action.

“The majority of commitments outlined in the strategy are not time-bound or binding, with some of the targets falling short of actions currently required by law.

“This is simply not good enough.

“This decade is crucial for action, and the decisions made by the Northern Ireland Executive now will have lasting impacts for generations to come.

“We urge our MLAs and the Executive to step up and act with ambition and urgency to effect real change, including with this Environment Strategy,” Ms Sherwood concluded.

The open letter was co-ordinated by RSPB NI.

The leading conservation charity is an important voice for the environment in Northern Ireland, where it has been operating in Northern Ireland for over 50 years to inspire a world richer in nature. For more information visit www.rspb.org.uk/ni

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