The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Northern Ireland Executive to make tough decisions and take decisive actions for the health and wellbeing of our society. But it is also presenting the Executive with an unmissable opportunity to rebuild our economy and to secure a healthier, more sustainable and greener future for us all. This is what economic experts are calling a Green Recovery.

Scrub clearance and pond clearance at Harbour Meadows, Belfast. Photo credit: Chris Thompson
Scrub clearance and pond clearance at Harbour Meadows, Belfast. Photo credit: Chris Thompson

What is a Green Recovery?
A Green Recovery recognises that nature is the foundation of our social and economic wellbeing and ensures that any policies and solutions to help recover the economy from the Covid-19 pandemic also help tackle the dual climate and nature emergencies.

Why do we need one?
Who hasn’t said they want life to go back to ‘normal’ lately – but if we take a closer look, was ‘normal’ really that good?

If we continue down the same ‘normal’ path, imagine what ‘normal’ will look like by 2050!

The essential services that nature provides including our food, clean air and water and a stable climate are crucial for our health, wellbeing and economic prosperity. In fact, our economy exists and operates within the confines of the natural world. But nature is in trouble, and the Covid-19 crisis has shown what can happen when nature is continuously exploited and depleted.

Curlew chick. Photo credit: Neal Warnock
Curlew chick. Photo credit: Neal Warnock

If we want to recover from the current pandemic and safeguard our future for generations to come, we must recover nature. That starts with a plan for a ‘new normal’ - a Green Recovery - when radical and rapid changes are made across the economy, politics, business, industry, education and more, to rebuild a more resilient, environmentally sustainable and fairer society that benefits both people and nature.

How will we get there?
The Northern Ireland Executive has shown it can make difficult decisions in the face of a health and economic emergency. Now we need the Executive to deploy the same will, collaboration and determination to tackling the climate and nature crisis through the delivery of a Green Recovery.

RSPB NI is proposing to the Northern Ireland Executive a bold, five-point plan that will reduce the impact of climate breakdown and restore nature. You can read all about it, here.

By delivering RSPB NI’s Five-Point Plan for a Green Recovery, the Northern Ireland Executive will be:

1. Demonstrating leadership
We have a chance to learn from our mistakes and build a better, greener and fairer future. By seizing this opportunity to deliver a Green Recovery, the Executive can enable Northern Ireland to progress towards a climate-safe, nature-rich future.

Stormont - Commitment to a Green Recovery from the Northern Ireland Executive

2. Introducing new laws to tackle the climate and nature crises
We know government strategies are not enough. New laws are required to ensure we have legally binding targets to protect and restore our wildlife and wild-spaces and ambitious legislation to reduce our carbon emissions to reach net zero by 2045.

2.	New legislation to tackle the climate and nature crises

3. Ensuring collaboration across all Northern Ireland Executive departments
What if one solution to fight climate change ends up causing more harm to nature? To effectively deliver a Green Recovery, there must be joined-up government thinking and nature and climate action integrated into all policies and decision-making.

Reform strategic government policy

4. Creating new jobs and training
Our natural resources are finite, so we must stop investing in industries, like those built on fossil fuels, that are depleting them – but we must be respectful of people’s livelihoods as we make this necessary transition. Through government funding, a green training and employment scheme would contribute to the recovery of Northern Ireland’s natural environment and the creation of a low-carbon economy.

Deliver a Green New Deal

5. Investing in nature to improve public health and wellbeing
In our recent poll, one in three people said they valued access to green spaces after experiencing the first lockdown. By increasing space for nature and access to nature-rich green spaces in both urban and rural areas, we can improve people’s physical and mental health and ease the pressure on our NHS.

Invest in nature to support healthier communities

Let’s make a Green Recovery happen
As the Northern Ireland Executive makes decisions that will impact upon our society and natural world for years to come, let’s make sure they are the right decisions. We need lots of people standing with us, to stand up for nature and to show the Executive that we want a ‘new normal’ which delivers a better, greener and fairer future for Northern Ireland.

You can help by joining as an RSPB NI campaigner and together, we’ll fight to #ReviveOurWorld. Join the movement here.

A Green Recovery for Northern Ireland