Edwin Poots has launched a consultation document on Northern Ireland’s first ever overarching Environment Strategy.
The Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs made the announcement during his visit to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow last week.
The Environment Strategy will set out Northern Ireland’s environmental priorities for the coming decades and will form part of the Executive’s Green Growth Delivery Framework.
As such it includes a mix of both existing and new environmental targets/objectives for DAERA and all Northern Ireland departments with a role in improving the environment.
Launching the consultation, Mr Poots said: “I am delighted to be able to make this announcement at COP26.
“This strategy will provide a coherent response to the global challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, which have been addressed at this important conference over the past two weeks.
“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.
“In addition, the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union provides new environmental opportunities and, as environmental degradation poses an increasing challenge to all parts of our globe, there is a clear impetus for the first long-term, over-arching Environment Strategy for Northern Ireland.”
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 been working 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.”
Concluding, Mr 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.
“I would therefore urge everyone to actively participate in this consultation”