Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Stormont’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill will launch an initiative to bring together experts on both sides of the border to research how to address climate and biodiversity emergencies.
Those involved with the All-Island Climate and Biodiversity Research Network (AICBRN) say it will “significantly ramp up collaborative research activity.”
The launch takes place as COP26 continues in Glasgow and shortly after the COP15 Biodiversity Conference concluded with a declaration that “putting biodiversity on a path to recovery is a defining challenge of this decade”.
Speaking about the launch in a pre-recorded message, the Taoiseach said: “Climate change and the loss of biodiversity is one of the biggest threats facing humanity.
“It is a crisis and challenge shared by all on this island; it will require collaboration, research and innovation across all sectors of public, private and civil society. We are stronger working on this together.”
Ms O’Neill said: “The climate emergency is causing serious harm across the globe. The scale of the challenge is such that a truly international effort is required with ambitious targets.
“We are not immune to the effects of climate change – across the island, we are facing in to a biodiversity crisis. This is a shared challenge and it calls for shared action.”
Following their speeches researchers from a wide range of disciplines will join in a panel discussion “to emphasise the importance of tackling both the climate and biodiversity crises together to find the solutions we need to maintain a liveable planet.”
Those involved say members of the AICBRN are already working together on biodiversity rich renewable energy, low carbon biodiversity friendly agriculture, aspects of the blue economy, sustainable materials required for future infrastructure, nature-focused solutions for resilient cities and nature-based solutions for climate action.
Professor Yvonne Buckley, Vice President for Biodiversity and Climate Action at Trinity College Dublin, said: “The climate and biodiversity crises transcend national, disciplinary and sectoral boundaries.
“We all live on the same planet and urgently need to fulfil our international commitments to reducing greenhouse gases, while protecting and restoring the ecosystems that sustain our lives, livelihoods and wellbeing.
“Researchers from different disciplines across both jurisdictions on the island have grasped this challenge and are working together through the All Island Climate and Biodiversity Research Network to find those solutions.”
Professor Jenny McKinley, Director of the Centre for GIS and Geomatics in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Delivering excellence in research and training that brings substantial environmental, societal and economic benefits is at the centre of our ambitious interdisciplinary Network to deliver whole-system solutions.
“We bring together environmental research with the physical and social sciences, with experts from our committed partners in government, industry, regulators, NGOs and communities across the UK, Ireland and beyond. Together we will co-create, co-deliver and apply, real-world holistic integrated and systemic solutions that achieve results.”
Professor Derek Jackson, a coastal geoscientist at Ulster University’s School of Geography and Environmental Sciences and specialist on climate change impacts on coasts, said: “There has never been a more important time to pool our expertise and resources to tackle a common problem.
“Our shared environment is facing unprecedented pressures and the only realistic way of addressing the resulting impacts is to assess issues through joint approaches and mitigation. This network is a sensible conduit through which we can achieve this.”
Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir, Director of the SFI MaREI Centre, said: “The Oireachtas has legislated for one of the highest 10 year GHG emissions reduction ambitions in the world. The Northern Ireland Assembly is currently also enacting ambitious climate action legislation.
“Delivering on this political ambition requires a significant ramp up of research and science, as was the case in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. We are launching this research network to support the Governments in delivering on the shared All-Island ambitions to address climate change and to restore biodiversity.”