NCI Submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss
Natural Capital Ireland recently took the opportunity to input into the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. The aim of our submission was to explain the natural capital approach, how it relates to biodiversity, and how it can be used as a tool to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.
The Citizens' Assembly on Biodiversity Loss was convened to examine how the State can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss and to bring forward proposals in that regard. The Assembly - made up of an independent Chairperson and 99 randomly-selected members of the public - are meeting throughout September and October to review and discuss submissions.
NCI’s submission asked the Citizens’ Assembly to consider the key drivers of biodiversity loss and highlighted the benefits of appropriately valuing our natural capital.
What is driving biodiversity loss?
Biodiversity loss is driven by a complex web of human activities: from urbanisation and habitat destruction, to population growth and climate change. One factor that underpins this loss, however, is the failure of mainstream economics to take nature’s hidden wealth into account. This failure leads to our adopting policies that exploit natural resources as though they are limitless, with increasingly disastrous consequences for natural systems. It is as though our society is rapidly spending from a bank account, confident that it is flush with money, while all the time invisible withdrawals are pushing us towards bankruptcy.
We argue that the natural capital approach is a vital tool that makes these withdrawals – the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services – fully visible to the public and policy makers, which can enable us to reverse these losses before it is too late.
What policies might halt, and reverse, these losses?
The natural capital approach reveals the often hidden costs, and benefits of policies and actions related to biodiversity. This approach greatly assists in reducing biodiversity loss through better informed policies.
We proposed that embedding the natural capital approach in policy-making will enable alignment of national, European and global policies and asked the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss to consider recommending that Government:
Embed the natural capital approach as a core decision-making tool across government.
Fully enforce the legally binding policies to halt biodiversity loss
Establish an Irish equivalent to the UK’s Natural Capital Committee (NCC), or include natural capital approaches in the remit of the existing cross-departmental working group on biodiversity.
Accelerate the development of natural capital accounts.
Adequately fund and support projects to address knowledge gaps on biodiversity and establish where losses are occurring and enable further research on applying the natural capital approach at scale, i.e. from small scale (e.g. farm level), to catchment, to county levels.
You can read the full submission here.