- in Environment
More than 40 groups have written to the first and deputy first minister urging that environmental commitments be built into NI’s coronavirus recovery plan.
The signatories are from business, community and environmental groups.
They say it is a chance to deliver on the “Green New Deal” promised in the agreement that re-established Stormont after the RHI scandal.
They want investment in cycling and walking, and sustainable public transport.
They also want quality jobs in industries that would cut carbon emissions, improved protection for nature and better public access to high-quality green spaces.
All the main environmental organisations have signed the letter as well as several academics and figures from business.
They have called for outdoor learning to be a big part of the future school curriculum, incentives to encourage sustainable food production and the delivery of a promised independent Environmental Protection Agency for Northern Ireland, the only region of the UK without one.
“There will be difficult choices in the weeks and months ahead as the Northern Ireland Executive leads us out of this crisis,” the letter said.
“In doing so, we ask you to create something better and lead us to a new normal: a climate-safe, nature-rich, healthy world for all.”
Among the organisations represented is Business in the Community NI.
Managing director Kieran Harding said: “It is vital that sustainability is at the heart of the recovery and rebuilding process.”
He added: “Government must support a green recovery and enable us to build back in a better way; one that directly addresses the climate and biodiversity crisis.
“In doing so, a recovery that focuses on the environment and protecting our planet will create new opportunities for business and generate greater prosperity and wellbeing for all.”
His comments were echoed by RSPBNI director Joanne Sherwood.
“The united voices of businesses, academics and the voluntary sector must be listened to,” she said.
“Without a commitment to a green recovery, we risk further damage to the natural world and increase the risk of future crises.”