Ireland’s approach to managing biodiversity loss needs a “radical overhaul”, the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss has recommended.

It has also voted in favour of holding a referendum on an amendment to the Constitution to protect biodiversity following deliberations this weekend at the seventh meeting of the assembly.

The 99 randomly selected members of the public and chair, Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, also agreed, subject to Oireachtas approval, to extend the assembly’s deliberations on a series of sector-specific recommendations, including agriculture, through an additional full meeting of the assembly early in the new year.

Members voted overwhelmingly in favour of holding a referendum of the people to amend the constitution with a view to protecting biodiversity. It was also recommended that this amendment should include a range of protections for substantive and procedural environmental rights for both people and nature.

State failure

The assembly also endorsed a recommendation that the State has comprehensively failed in relation to biodiversity and made recommendations for fundamental change to the funding, implementation, and enforcement of national policies, EU biodiversity-related laws and relevant directives.

Other recommendations that were agreed reflected the thematic format of the assembly’s deliberations and discussions since April this year.

They cover all sectors and aspects of Irish life. These include the national policy and strategic approach to the biodiversity crisis, funding to address biodiversity loss, and the role of communities, NGOs, and industry.

All of the recommendations will be compiled into a final report that will be provided to the Government and Houses of the Oireachtas in compliance with the assembly’s terms of reference.