In 2021, the Irish Government has reviewed and developed a raft of policies and action plans with a view to protecting Ireland’s natural environment, including, the Climate Action Plan, the Nitrates Action Programme and the Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan, while the Biodiversity Action Plan has been reviewed with a view to preparing a 4th plan for Ireland. The draft River Basin Management Plan 2022-2027 is currently out for public consultation. The challenge is that many of these plans have time limited objectives, such as, Ireland’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030; halting biodiversity loss by 2030; the Water Framework Directive and the River Basin Management Plan aims to bring all of Ireland’s water bodies to good ecological status by 2027. All of these plans and policies have been in place for a decade or more, yet recent EPA environmental monitoring reports show that the majority of these environmental metrics continue to show declines.
To make meaningful progress towards achieving ambitious environmental targets, these fragmented national policies, with minimal input from local communities, need to change. A recent EPA report shows that 85% of the Irish people surveyed are worried about the impact of climate change,78% felt more should be done to mitigate climate change and 79% stated that protecting water resources is Ireland’s greatest priority.
The Water Forum will host a webinar on 3rd February at 10am to discuss how the gap can be bridged between the national policies and plans and the desire among citizens to deliver outcomes for the natural environment. Academics will present research on best practice in public participation and tools for delivering such participative and deliberative democracy programmes. Organisations and community groups already involved in developing and delivering water and biodiversity plans and actions at local level will discuss their learnings and what further supports and frameworks will be required to achieve real progress towards meeting the objectives of national policies which impact water, biodiversity and climate.