Ireland signs up to international biodiversity coalition

11 January 2021 

Ireland has signed up to an international coalition that aims to protect almost a third of the planet’s land and sea area. 

The announcement was made as part of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People launch today, which aispires to establish an agreement to address the biodiversity crisis. 

The coalition has set a goal of “at least” 30 per cent of the planet being protected by the end of the decade and to promote nature-based solutions the world over. 

Ireland’s participation was confirmed by Minister of State Malcolm Noonan, who also attended today’s One Planet Summit for Biodiversity meeting. 

Citing the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Minister Noonan observed that the “scope and ability of countries to act collectively for nature and biodiversity” has been challenged as a result. 

“It has also, however, led to a re-evaluation of humanity’s relationship with nature, particularly in the context of how future zoonotic pandemics can be avoided. 

Facing up to and addressing the damaging loss of biodiversity is vital if we are to do this,” he said. 

“Our extinction crisis is only deepening” 

The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) welcomed the commitment, but stressed that it must be backed by urgent action such as ending overfishing, restoring land and creating a nature-friendly farming system. 

“We really need to start acting in a way that reflects the state of emergency declared by the Dáil nearly two years ago. 

We’re still waiting on delivery of commitments made in the 1990s and 2000s which were to have seen extinction and pollution as a thing of the past. Yet our extinction crisis is only deepening,” IWT campaigns officer Padraic Fogarty said. 

Oonagh Duggan of BirdWatch Ireland said while the coalition was critical, it will “only be successful if we fix the weak structures currently holding back effective action.” 

“This includes completely inadequate funding for the National Parks and Wildlife Service, very poor enforcement of environmental laws across all sectors, and the failure of successive governments to adequately prioritise biodiversity conservation,” she said. 

This is the second such international biodiversity action Ireland has taken part in over the past few months, as in September 2020 it joined the “Leader’s Pledge for Nature”. 

Signatories committed to achieving the vision of “Living in Harmony with Nature” by mid-century and to ensure the world was on the path of biodiversity recovery by 2030. 

The United Nations has previously set this target of “at least” 30 per cent planetary protection, and had also proposed that at least one-third of climate mitigation efforts to meet Paris Agreement targets should be met through nature-based solutions. 

Such solutions in Ireland would include planting native woodland trees and rewetting peatlands. 

Ireland & the biodiversity crisis 

Two-thirds of Ireland’s wild bird species have been listed for conservation concern, and waterbird species have seen a 40 per cent decline in population in less than two decades. 

One-third of our Irish bees are threatened with extinction, 85 per cent of protected habitats are in bad shape, while water quality continues to decline. 

The State has also gone on the record to the European Commission in 2019 and noted that native woodlands, sand dunes, bogs, uplands and marine habitats were also of poor status.

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