Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA, has given his approval to Northern Ireland’s first overarching Environment Strategy.
The Environment Strategy sets out Northern Ireland’s environmental priorities for the coming decades and forms part of the Executive’s Green Growth agenda. As such it includes a mix of both existing and new environmental targets / objectives for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and all Northern Ireland Departments with a role in improving the environment.
The Minister made the announcement during a statement to the Northern Ireland Assembly and said afterwards: “I am delighted to be able to approve the final Environment Strategy, a draft of which I initially launched for consultation at COP26 back in November last year. Of course, it will also have to be formally approved by an incoming Executive before it can be published.
“This Strategy will provide a coherent response to the global challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change. Our environment affects every aspect of our existence – it is central to all life, what we do, what we eat, how we work, where we live and play, and is unquestionably our most precious asset. Northern Ireland faces a range of local environmental challenges, including habitat and species loss, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, waste management, the development of a circular economy, soil quality, air quality and waste crime.”
The Minister continued: “Urgent action is required if we are to realistically respond to the challenges of climate change, the destruction of habitats, the loss of biodiversity and the impacts of pollution on land and at sea. Protecting and enhancing our environment also has an important role to play as we emerge into a post-Covid world and my officials have worked with key stakeholders, including other departments and external bodies, to develop a strategy that will help us deliver a better environment, which can provide great economic, social and health benefits for individuals and for society. Following feedback from stakeholders during the consultation exercise many of the actions and targets contained within the draft Strategy have been updated and strengthened.”
Concluding, Minister Poots said, “We all have a responsibility in meeting these challenges and it is incumbent on all of us to protect and preserve our local environment as we strive to protect and preserve our planet for future generations. This Strategy will form the basis for a coherent and effective set of interventions that can deliver real improvements in the quality of the environment and thereby: improve the health and well-being of all who live and work here; create opportunities to develop our economy; elevate Northern Ireland to an environmental leader; and enable us to play our part in protecting the global environment for many decades to come.”
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