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  • Writer's pictureNCI Team

NCI welcomes new Climate and Nature Fund announced in Budget 2024

NCI welcomes the announcement of a new Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund with an unprecedented €3.15billion pledged for nature that will use windfall corporate tax profits to fund future commitments to the environment up to 2030.

Two smiling men in suits stand outside a stone-pillared building with wooden doors, holding 2 colourful Budget documents in each hand
Minister for Finance Michael McGrath and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe present Budget 2024

The fund will ensure that future governments can continue to finance capital spending on environmental projects longer term, and help the achievement of carbon budgets. Ownership of the fund will be vested in the Department of Finance, while managed and controlled by the National Treasury Management Agency, subject to an investment policy and investment strategy.

The Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said: “The Infrastructure, Climate & Nature Fund will help smooth the investment cycle and avoid a ‘stop-start’ approach and help provide support for the economy in times of exceptional need and capital spending in periods of economic dislocation."

Minister of State with the newly added title of 'Nature', Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said this fund is vital to enable action on biodiversity and water quality and support delivery of the proposed EU Nature Restoration Law.

“Throughout the Nature Restoration Law debates, I made a commitment to seek significant additional funding to support biodiversity action and I’m proud that we have delivered on that today. This unprecedented fund will enable us to invest in communities, farmers, fishers and state agencies and bodies to deliver action for healthy nature, clean water and climate resilience at a pace and scale we’ve never seen before in Ireland."

Group of people standing in front of screen with Natural Capital Ireland and Business for Biodiversity Ireland logos
(L-R) NCI's Dr Noeleen Smyth, Dr Emer Ni Dhuill, Minister of State Malcolm Noonan, FF's Erin McGreehan TD, Green party's Marc O Cathasaigh TD, NCI's Dr Jimmy O'Keeffe, NCI Director Fiona Ross & NCI's Martha O'Hagan, TCD

In September, NCI issued a pre-Budget statement and gave a Leinster House briefing on the need for investment in nature and Ireland's natural capital. Our address, hosted by Green Party TD, Deputy Marc O Cathasaigh and Minister of State Malcolm Noonan, was well-attended with a high level of interest and feedback from Oireachtas members and staff. NCI have had a number of correspondences to arrange follow-up information and meetings on the matter.

Mr Michael Healy-Rae TD raised the issue with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O'Brien - that investment is needed in actions that support national assessments of ecosystem services and natural capital, including a network of experts in natural capital and ecosystem accounting for the island of Ireland to ensure collaboration between relevant bodies that appropriate guidance is provided to key sectors, with investment in Ireland's nature-data infrastructure.

The minister responded in writing: "I welcome the interest in this emerging and frontier arena in support of biodiversity. Ireland's forthcoming 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP 2023-2027) sets out Ireland’s vision for biodiversity by 2050 as follows: “Biodiversity in Ireland is valued, conserved, restored and sustainably used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people”. The draft Plan will be brought to Cabinet in the coming weeks for Government approval.

"The draft NBAP sets the national biodiversity agenda for the period 2023-2027, which aims to deliver the transformative changes required to the ways in which we value and protect nature. It contains five objectives and associated outcomes, targets and actions, across a number of thematic areas to achieve this vision.

"Objective 4 of the NBAP is to “Enhance the Evidence Base for Action on Biodiversity” and sets the target that Ireland will have completed a first national assessment of ecosystem services by 2027, based on a national assessment of stocks, flows and trends in ecosystem services to identify priority ecosystems and threats to natural capital.

"Actions under Objective 4 of the NBAP include the establishment of a network of experts in Natural Capital Accounting. Assessment and accounting will require an ongoing systematic programme of field survey, remote sensing and monitoring and will require considerable cross-departmental effort.

"The National Economic and Social Council is preparing a report on natural capital accounting on request from Government in the 2021 Climate Action Plan. Following in-depth consultation with policy stakeholders and experts, international case studies and Council discussion, the final report is being prepared and is expected to be published in Q4 2023.

"The National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department will continue to play a key role in the collection, analysis and open publication of mapping and data relating to protected habitats and species, the development of biodiversity data standards, and will continue to provide ongoing support to the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Natural Capital Ireland."

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