The 100 members of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss met for the first time on Saturday 14 May, with the assembly’s chair, Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, calling for more community engagement with the body’s work from both rural and urban areas.

Dr Ní Shúilleabháin said that Ireland had acknowledged the scale of the biodiversity challenge facing it by setting up the first ever Citizens’ Assembly on the topic and becoming the second country to declare a biodiversity emergency in 2019.

The Assembly will hear from experts on biodiversity over a six-month work programme discussing biodiversity loss, as well as projects seeking to reverse such trends, before submitting a series of recommendations on the issue to Government.


The public can view the Assembly’s proceedings online and make submissions to inform the body’s discussions.

“The more engagement that we have from people and communities all across the country – young and old, urban and rural – the better informed and richer our recommendations to the Oireachtas will be,” said Ní Shúilleabháin at the first meeting of the Biodiversity Loss assembly.

“While Citizens’ Assemblies in Ireland are earning us a strong international reputation involving our people in our democracy, this is, as far as we know, the first that has taken place globally on Biodiversity Loss.

“We should celebrate that and feel a sense of privilege and pride that the work we do may well be noted by others not only in Ireland, but also abroad,” she stated.

First meeting

Saturday’s meeting of the Assembly focused on the scale of biodiversity loss across the country.

Members of the assembly will meet next on Saturday 11 June, when they are set to travel to north Co Dublin on a field trip to view “examples of Ireland’s rich biodiversity”.

“This work will be done within the backdrop of Ireland having declared a biodiversity emergency in 2019, the second country to do so in the world at the time,” Ní Shúilleabháin continued.

“We are looking at devastating rates of loss of life and habitats across land and sea.

"Today, we are hearing about the scale of the problem we have been asked to consider and over the course of the rest of the year, will hear of some successful projects that are underway to try address these issues.

“This is a large and important task to undertake, but it is also a really wonderful opportunity to impact on our country’s policies and actions,” the Assembly’s chair concluded.