Set against the backdrop of a devastating global pandemic, 2020 has brought more unprecedented challenges than any other. It has changed the way we live and work, how we connect with friends and family, and forced us to re-evaluate our relationship with nature.
Roseate tern by Tim Melling (rspb-images.com)
This year has taken an incredible toll on everyone's lives and we understand it might seem hard to look back at 2020 and feel optimistic. But despite so many challenges and pressures, this year we've re-discovered the joy of connecting with our local communities and witnessed the incredible power of people when uniting to make change happen. We’ve watched governments around the world, and here in Northern Ireland, take urgent and decisive action in the face of a health and economic crises. This makes us feel hopeful that when the same scale of action and ambition is applied to the nature and climate crises, we’ll see radical results that will have a greater positive impact on our lives.
Thanks to you all, we’ve made a lot of noise for nature and 2021 looks set to be even louder as we continue our calls to #ReviveOurWorld and secure better and stronger laws for our wildlife and habitats in Northern Ireland. So, let's focus on the good stuff and celebrate our campaigning successes of 2020:
Together, we gave nature a voice and proved that Northern Ireland wants a Green Recovery
Nature plays an important role in helping to improve our physical and mental health, and never more so than this year. But nature is in dangerous decline and during the last 50 years, over 40 million birds have vanished from UK skies - with 11% of species in Northern Ireland at risk of extinction.
To ensure that any action to recover the economy after the Covid-19 crisis also recovers nature, RSPB NI, alongside 40 signatories, wrote an Open Letter to the NI Executive in May calling for a Green Recovery that will benefit nature, climate and people.
But it’s not just our calls that the NI Executive needed to hear - your opinion matters to decision-makers. That's why RSPB NI commissioned an opinion poll earlier in the year. From this analysis we were able to show that 74% of people want new laws to better protect nature and three out of four people appreciated access to local green spaces during the pandemic. This demonstrated a clear public mandate for a Green Recovery and enabled us to put pressure on the NI Executive to act.
Over 100 of you met with your local MPs to ask for a Green Recovery
The Time Is Now Mass Lobby by Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)
On June 30 2020, over 100 amazing supporters in Northern Ireland joined thousands across the UK in a digital mass lobby. Alongside having a virtual cuppa and connecting with other campaigners, the goal of the lobby was to enable constituents to meet with local MPs and tell them why we must build a healthier, greener and fairer future after the pandemic.
During the eight meetings that were held in Northern Ireland, supporters asked their elected representative to advocate for a Green Recovery and challenged them to ensure that action against the nature and climate crises is central to their political decision-making.
Together we held the NI Executive to account over biodiversity failings
Northern Ireland has lost more wildlife than anywhere else in the UK, despite commitments made by the NI Executive to reverse nature’s decline.
Our goal is to work with the Executive to find solutions to the climate and nature crises, but when the government’s commitments don’t manifest into promised action, it is important that it is held to account.
In September, RSPB NI analysis revealed that the NI Executive had failed on over 80% of it’s objectives to improve biodiversity loss in Northern Ireland. Through the launch of our #ReviveOurWorld campaign, we called for an urgent development of legally binding targets to save nature and prevent further decline. Your support helped our calls hit the headlines and showed the Executive that the people of Northern Ireland want urgent action to bring nature back from the brink.
Over 1,000 of you signed our petition demanding targets in law to save nature
The devastating news of biodiversity loss in Northern Ireland and across the world served as a wake-up call. To get nature’s recovery back on track and prevent an even greater impact on our health and economy, we need more than just commitments. We need new laws for nature.
In September, RSPB launched a petition demanding legally binding targets to save nature. Incredibly, over 75,000 people across the UK, including 1,000 people right here in Northern Ireland, signed up! That empowered us to show the NI Executive and wider Assembly just how many people care about nature and want laws to protect it.
We proposed a Green Recovery plan to the NI Executive
Young volunteers by Chris Thompson
Nature is the foundation of our social and economic wellbeing. If we want to recover our economy and create a more resilient future for everyone after Covid-19, we must recover and restore nature. Our recent poll demonstrated that people across Northern Ireland want more space for nature too.
That’s why RSPB NI proposed a Green Recovery plan to the NI Executive of five bold solutions that will help tackle the nature and climate emergencies.
Your response to our plan has been overwhelming, but our campaigning isn’t done. We need lots of people standing with us, to stand up for nature and to show the Executive that it must invest in a Green Recovery to deliver the greener and fairer future we all want and need. Your support and action will be vital and we look forward to working with you all as we continue our campaigning next year. Twenty twenty-one WILL be the super year for nature!
Until then, we wish you all a healthy and happy Christmas and thank you for your continued support .
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