United calls for green investment

Environmental and community organisations, businesses, academics and campaigners have written an open letter to the First Minister and deputy First Minister asking them to prioritise a green recovery.

They are urging the Northern Ireland Executive to put health and wellbeing, nature protection and climate action at the heart of decision-making as the Roadmap to Recovery plans begin to be implemented.

Over forty signatories are calling on First Minister, Arlene Foster, and deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, to invest in a resilient recovery effort that will support Northern Ireland’s long-term health and prosperity.

The letter asks the NI Executive to adopt three principles:

- Creating a more resilient economy by delivering the ‘green new deal’ that commits to investing in the infrastructure, housing, technology and skills to generate thousands of new jobs that directly contribute to a sustainable future and ensures that public and private finance meets a ‘net zero test’.

- Increasing space for nature and people by introducing measures that enhance access to, and improve the provision of, high-quality, nature-rich green space; capitalising on natural health benefits.

- Strengthening nature’s protections by ensuring the swift passage of environmental legislation post EU Transition phase and introducing targets in law for the restoration of nature on a massive scale including incentives for sustainable farming, fishing and food production.

Business in the Community NI Managing Director Kieran Harding said: “Businesses in Northern Ireland are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19. It is vital that sustainability is at the heart of the recovery and rebuilding process. Government must support a green recovery and enable us to build back in a better way; one that directly addresses the climate and biodiversity crisis. In doing so, a recovery that focuses on the environment and protecting our planet will create new opportunities for business and generate greater prosperity and wellbeing for all.”

Dara McAnulty, young nature writer and campaigner said: “If we have learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that humans can no longer exploit the natural world as they have done. Nature is essential to our survival and it deserves to be top of the high priority list in any recovery plan.”

RSPB NI Director Joanne Sherwood said: “Growing scientific evidence shows that human health depends on the health of the planet. The united voices of businesses, academics and the voluntary sector must be listened to. Without a commitment to a green recovery, we risk further damage to the natural world and increase the risk of future crises.”

Signatories have highlighted that the potential for rapid change and cross-sector collaboration has been evident during the Coronavirus crisis and welcome the opportunity to share their expertise and support to help the Northern Ireland Executive find solutions to rebuild and recover together.

Organisations that have signed the open letter include Business in the Community, Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Environment Link.

The businesses and environmental leaders have committed to work together for the recovery of the natural world and secure a healthier future.

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