Report from Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss calls for greater respect for the rights of nature
On Earth Day 2023, Saturday 22 April, Ireland’s first Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss has published its final report, calling for greater respect for the rights of nature and for biodiversity to be at the centre of decision-making. The report also calls for children and young people to be included in how we respond to biodiversity loss.
The Assembly met over two weekends in October 2022 in the beautiful settings of 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 selected representing a diverse cross-section of society.
The Assembly’s report charts in beautiful and vivid detail the journey that participants in the Assembly went on over the course of their work together. It details their activities over the two weekends and captures their key recommendations, including a vision if the future they would like to see:
“An Ireland where we are connected to and care for the rights of nature (and each other) so that biodiversity is restored and protected and we live and grow up in healthy, clean and fair environments.”
The Assembly also produced six key messages (Note 1) and 58 calls to action (Note 2), which are detailed on pages 31–38 of the final report.
Assembly member from Co.Cork
Assembly member from Co. Galway
The report is published today to coincide with Earth Day 2023. It also marks six months since the Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss met for its second and final weekend in Killarney National Park.
“When the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss was established last year, I felt it was vitally important that our younger citizens under the age of 18 would also be able to have their say. Having seen their brilliant work, I am more convinced than ever of this. I will be exploring with my Department and with the team that designed and ran the Assembly how we can create a mechanism to provide children and young people a voice in decisions on biodiversity policy into the future.”
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform
The report’s publication follows on from the recent publication of the final report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, on 5 April 2023. At its meeting on 5–6 November 2022, the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss welcomed a presentation of their key recommendations by six representatives of the Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. In its final report, adults’ Citizens’ Assembly agreed as one of its Overarching Recommendations that:
“The State is urged to take into account the recommendations from the Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, an initiative featuring our next generation, and continue to engage with children and young people on the environment.”
A Joint Oireachtas Committee is to be tasked with considering the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. The final report of the Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss will be submitted also to that committee. The Children and Young People’s Assembly members look forward to their calls to action being considered by the Joint Oireachtas Committee also.
Although the Assembly has concluded, this is not the end of our journey. The Assembly’s legacy is now being developed through a follow-on project called Teaching Resources for Youth-informed Biodiversity Education (TRYBE) led by University College Cork, which addresses some of the Assembly’s calls to action around education and raising awareness.
a member of the Young Advisory Team for the Assembly from Co Dublin
a member of the Young Advisory Team for the Assembly from Co. Waterford