The representative body for environmental NGOs on the Agri-Food 2030 Strategy committee, the Environmental Pillar, has withdrawn its participation, citing concerns over the final draft document.
The Environmental Pillar coordinator on the committee, Karen Ciesielski, wrote to An Taoiseach Michéal Martin on Thursday morning to formally confirm the withdrawal.
She said the strategy was not something she or the body’s members could stand over or support.
“We have engaged in this process in good faith, and after 10 meetings of this committee, verbal interventions, written submissions and two bi-lateral meetings with Department officials and chairman Tom Arnold, it is with deep disappointment that, now we have finally seen the document in the whole, it falls far short of where we need to be and indeed where I had hoped we would be as this process draws to a close,” Ciesielski wrote.
She said the draft strategy failed to clearly state targets and milestones on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions, protect and restore water quality and biodiversity and safeguard farmers’ livelihoods.
“Its commitments are vague, and lack the bold concrete actions that would urgently shift agriculture away from its currently predominately livestock-based model,” Ciesielski’s letter to Martin says.
“It also enshrines Ag Climatise as the guidepost for achieving emissions reductions, which the Environmental Pillar and other experts said does not go far enough at the time of its publication and which the Department itself has said would need to be revisited in line with more ambitious government targets to reduce emissions.”
Th Environmental Pillar has recommended that the strategy process goes back to Government and is reset. It also called for the stakeholder process to be looked at and reshaped to “encourage genuine participation, dialogue and engagement in how our food is produced."
Among the 32 NGO members of the Environmental Pillar are An Tasice, BirdWatch Ireland, Friends of the Earth, and the Irish Wildlife Trust.