State of the Environment in Ireland 2012 – Meeting the Main Environmental Challenges

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding an international workshop today to look at the main environmental challenges facing Ireland.   The most recent ‘state of the environment’, assessment has confirmed that while Ireland’s environment is of a generally high standard, significant environmental challenges face Ireland in the medium term.

Today’s event is one of three being held this week to mark the publication of the EPA’s fifth ‘state of the environment’ report, Ireland’s Environment 2012 – An Assessment.

Dr Micheal Lehane, EPA Programme Manager and one of the main authors of the report explained,
“The conference will bring together policy and decision makers from across all economic sectors to consider the actions needed to address the challenges facing the country in the coming years and to identify potential barriers to progress.  Over 100 delegates from Ireland’s public and private sectors will debate the actions required to address the main challenges facing Ireland’s environment with national and international experts.”
The workshop will include presentations and discussions on the following themes:
1.    Valuing and Protecting Ireland’s Water and Natural Environment
2.    Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change
3.    Developing a Resource Efficient, Green Economy
4.    Protecting and Managing the Environment for a Sustainable Ireland
The keynote address will be given by Simon Upton from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  The topic he will address is what the world environment might look like in 2050 and what we can do about it.  He will speak particularly from a green growth perspective saying that,
“The scale of the environmental challenges we face is so large that we can’t afford expensive solutions.  The green growth agenda is not a panacea but an analytical lens that brings into focus two big areas of government policy that don’t always line up:  the economic and the environmental.   Green growth is about using natural assets and ecosystem services in a way that will enable those resources and services to go on contributing to growth and development over time.”
Jock Martin of the European Environment Agency (EEA) will give participants the European perspective. He said:
“Dedicated management of Ireland’s natural environment is the key to sustainability. Using soil, biomass, freshwaters and seas in ways that do not degrade ecosystem services can help ensure the long-term viability of landscapes and seascapes, sustain tourism, support climate change adaptation, and contribute to food and energy security. Untapped potential remains for Irish jobs and exports through developing bio-technologies and bio-products”
Ireland’s Environment 2012 – An Assessment
On 25th June 2012, the EPA published its fifth ‘state of the environment’ report, Ireland’s Environment 2012 – An Assessment. The report, which is the most wide-ranging assessment of Ireland’s environment, identifies four key challenges for Ireland to address in the coming years. These are:
1.    Valuing and protecting our natural environment;
2.    Building a resource-efficient, low carbon economy
3.    Implementing environmental legislation; and
4.    Putting the environment at the centre of our decision-making.

The EPA has also developed an online environmental indicator-based resource to accompany this report to provide regularly updated information on key environmental indicators. This resource as well as the report is available on the EPA’s website at

Further State of the Environment events this week
1.    A public lecture on air quality and health will take place this evening (27th June) at 6pm in DIT Kevin Street. The lecture will be given by Professor Douglas Dockery of the Harvard School of Public Health on the topic Clean Air – the Continuing Public Health Challenge: Health Benefits of Improving Air Quality . All are welcome to attend this lecture; pre-registration is not required. Professor Dockery is internationally known for his work in understanding the relationship between air pollution and respiratory and cardiovascular disease and its role in mortality and morbidity.

2.    Tomorrow, (28th June 2012) the EPA is holding a conference to present EPA STRIVE funded-research findings related to the state of the environment report Ireland’s Environment 2012: An Assessment.  The conference is being held at Trinity College Dublin for an audience of policy makers, environmental experts and researchers. The morning session focuses on Environment and Human Health Challenges to Ireland including presentations on predicting coastal water quality and on the harmful chemicals emitted from healthcare establishments. In the afternoon the latest research on Air Quality and Transboundary Emissions will be presented. Topics include the impact of air pollution on Irish lakes and the occurrence of biological and chemical aerosols.

In parallel with this event, the EPA-funded research project ‘Symbiosys’ is hosting a major end-of-project conference on the sectoral impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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