On Saturday 14 October, members of Ireland’s first Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss were joined by Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at a reunion gathering in Airfield Estate, Dublin.
Minister Noonan discussed with the children and young people how their recommendations, published in April 2023, have informed the government’s work to protect biodiversity. Minister Noonan committed to establishing a youth forum on biodiversity, responding to the Assembly’s call for children and young people to be included in decision-making on biodiversity policy in Ireland.
The reunion marks one year since the Assembly met for two weekends of deliberation in October 2022. It brought together the members of the Assembly along with the Assembly’s Young Advisory Team and researchers from Dublin City University and University College Cork and provided an opportunity to reconnect and reflect on the work of the Assembly and its legacy.
The Assembly’s final report, published in April 2023 to coincide with Earth Day, called for greater respect for the rights of nature and for biodiversity to be at the centre of decision-making. It also called for children and young people to be included in how we respond to biodiversity loss. The Assembly produced a vision statement (Note 1), six key messages (Note 2), and 58 calls to action (Note 3). These are all detailed on pages 31–38 of the Assembly’s final report (copy attached).
The Assembly met over two weekends in October 2022 in Glencree, Co. Wicklow and Killarney National Park, and aimed to ensure Ireland’s youngest citizens have their say in how Ireland responds to the challenge of biodiversity loss. Over 500 children and young people aged 7-17 years from across Ireland applied to be part of the assembly, of which 35 were randomly selected representing a diverse cross-section of society. A nine-member Young Advisory Team worked with researchers from Dublin City University and University College Cork to co-design and co-deliver the Assembly.
“Today is an important day for me and for the Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. When its final report was published in April this year, I committed to meeting with them again to tell them how their calls to action have influenced my work and the work of the government. That’s why I’m here today. The government will shortly be publishing a new National Biodiversity Action Plan. I took the opportunity today to tell the children and young people how their calls to action have fed into the development of the Plan. In particular, I have committed to establishing a new youth forum on biodiversity, responding to the Assembly’s call for children and young people’s voices to be included in decisions on biodiversity.”
Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage