We have a huge opportunity to change the future of Northern Ireland for the better. We can have a thriving countryside full of wildlife; a scheme that enables people to transition into green jobs; sustainable energy and transport; energy-efficient insulation in our homes; and more access to nature-rich green spaces to improve our health and wellbeing. A Green Recovery, if we get it right, will benefit us all.

Towards a Green Recovery webinar panel
'Towards a Green Recovery' webinar panellists

A Green Recovery means that any actions to help recover the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic will also help tackle the climate and nature emergencies. “People want our leaders to act boldly and science tells us we must act now.” said Dr Matthew Agarwala, University of Cambridge, so what actions do we need to take now to make a Green Recovery a reality for Northern Ireland?

Following the release of RSPB NI’s five-point plan of bold solutions to create a greener and fairer future for Northern Ireland, this is what our expert panellists added to the Green Recovery discussion during the webinar on November 27:

1. Invest in the protection and enhancement of nature to grow and sustain our economy - Dr Matthew Agarwala, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge

Dr Matthew Agawala, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge
Dr Matthew Agarwala, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge

“Our economy, from a local farm shop to the biggest companies on the planet, operates and exists within the context of the natural world. This means, when we invest in nature (protect and enhance it), we are actually expanding the operating space for the economy. When we degrade nature (pollution, loss of wild spaces, overfishing), we are constraining what is economically feasible throughout our national and local economies.”

2. Design a fair and just transition to a low-carbon economy to ensure all communities are considered as we build a more climate-resilient society - Dr Aoife Ní Lochlainn, Nevin Economic Research Institute

Dr Aoife Ní Lochlainn Policy Analyst, Nevin Economic and Research Institute
Dr Aoife Ní Lochlainn Policy Analyst, Nevin Economic and Research Institute

“The obligation to decarbonise our economy and our society is a shared one, yet it exists in a context where the capacity to bear the brunt of such large-scale transition is unequal. Without intervention by the state, the impacts of the transition on parts of the population will most likely be negative. But if managed well, the transition could lead to more job opportunities, better and higher quality paying work, in addition to a healthier environment.”

3. Integrate and prioritise a ‘green’ recovery into all economic recovery strategies to enable long-term economic security - Tania Kumar, Principal Policy Advisor in Infrastructure and Energy, Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Tania Kumar, Principal Policy Advisor in Infrastructure and Energy, CBI
Tania Kumar, Principal Policy Advisor in Infrastructure and Energy, CBI

“For us at the CBI, putting forward the case that a green recovery has to be seamlessly intertwined with any economic recovery is so crucial. Not just because it can provide a lot of jobs, most importantly, but also that investment in low-carbon technology and infrastructure programmes help to gift that long-term, strong drumbeat of investment and certainty everybody needs right now.”

4. Recognise the role education can play in helping to facilitate a cultural shift towards a greater appreciation of our natural world – Dakota Reid, Queen's University Belfast (QUB) Student and Activist

Dakota Reid, Queen's University Belfast Student and Activist
Dakota Reid, Queen's University Belfast Student and Activist

“We need to build an education system that facilitates learning to value nature and it needs to be accessible to everyone. Then we will be investing in a future where future generations can go into the green jobs we create; develop the green technologies we need; and lead us to a carbon neutral future that we all want.

“A green recovery in Northern Ireland means giving our younger generations the educational basis they need to become the sustainable leaders of tomorrow.”

5. Use our voices to hold the NI Executive to account and remember the power of people in making change happen – Dakota Reid, Queen's University Belfast (QUB) Student and Activist

Young people protesting during Climate Strike
Young people protesting during Climate Strike

“We as citizens can all call on politicians at a local and national level to do more to facilitate a green recovery and a just transition.

“We should lobby politicians to make sustainability something that is built into the fabric of our society and we have to do this for the sake of future generations.

“Political action to deal with the climate and biodiversity crises is not an option, it has to happen. If we are going to see the radical change in political focus, we as citizens need to be ones who are pushing for it.”

As the Northern Ireland Executive makes decisions that will impact upon people and nature for years to come, you can help us make sure they are the right decisions. Join our campaigner movement to receive monthly updates on our Green Recovery campaign and how you can take action to save nature in Northern Ireland and #ReviveOurWorld.
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