Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan has lauded the importance of research into Biodiversity Loss with Sustainable Finance solutions, currently being undertaken jointly by SETU Waterford and Queen’s University Belfast.
Opening a recent policy workshop on the topic, the Minister voiced the importance of biodiversity for the web of life and outlined recent measures aimed at protecting our natural habitats.
Minister Noonan addressed the audience, which was drawn from across business, policy, and academia, by welcoming the convergence of numerous initiatives from government, the community, and the business sector in tandem with European legislation aimed at restoring nature.
He stated that finance sourced from both the public and private sectors will be crucial for nature, hence the importance of the joint research.
A series of keynote speakers then addressed the workshop attendees. These included Susan Rossney, Sustainability Officer with Chartered Accountants Ireland, who outlined how, as the largest accountancy body in Ireland, the Institute has firmly embedded sustainability in all its training and education programmes.
Fascinating insights into the work of Business for Biodiversity Ireland were then presented by their Platform Lead Lucy Gaffney. Tracing the importance of nature, the business case for nature’s positive actions to the importance of the targets set at COP 15 at Montreal in December 2022, Gaffney was forthright in illustrating the need for more finance to address the lack of nature literacy, develop better quality data and garner greater value chain engagement.
Paul Harris, Sustainable Product Lead at Bank of Ireland, delivered insights into the design and delivery of the Woodland Nature Credit devised from the partnership between Coillte and The Nature Trust with Bank of Ireland as the arranger.
As the first nature-based private sector funding instrument, this facilitated the planting of thousands of acres of native woodlands across Ireland aimed at providing recreational amenities for local communities while sequestering and storing carbon and creating biodiverse new habitats.
Echoing the importance of carbon sequestration, but for Ireland’s peatlands, UCD Research Fellow Dr Shane Mc Guinness illustrated the importance of these peatlands, both economically and socially, and the process of designing blended finance for wetland restoration with Peatland Finance Ireland and the WaterLands Horizon 2020 research project key to this restoration work.
Teagasc researcher and ecologist Dr John Finn outlined the role of the results-based payments system for habitat quality restoration and presented several case studies from high nature value systems. In closing Finn cited the need for specialist expertise, co-creation of solutions involving farmers, regular communication and trust building among stakeholders to progress this work.
A short panel discussion then ensued, chaired by Susan Rossney, in which the challenges for funding biodiversity loss, language and terminology issues, and the need for education emerged as key. The workshop was then closed by the two project coordinators, Dr Lisa Sheenan, Queens University Belfast, and Professor Sheila O Donohoe, South East Technological University.