Realising that the crises facing this country go even deeper than the very serious financial problems, the Government has invited a fifth group to participate in the Social Partnership negotiations for the first time. This “fifth pillar” of social partnership includes twenty-eight environmental groups working to create a sustainable society. Karin Dubsky of Coastwatch points out that “The environmental groups recognize that it is our shared responsibility to balance our environmental health, socio-economic, and future needs. We have practical solutions and look forward to working with the other social partners that have promoted the country’s socio-economic development so well over the last 20 years.”
Oisin Coghlan of Friends of the Earth Ireland says “The environmental groups are involved in social partnership to help solve our shared problems. We see the current financial and environmental crises as interlinked and both must be tackled together”.
The Environmental Pillar will work with the other Social Partners to incorporate the three essential and interrelated strands of sustainable development into all aspects of the workings of Social Partnership. Until now, Social Partnership has focused on the socio-economic interests of the present generation and has largely neglected the need for a healthy environment and for providing a healthy and stable planet for future generations.
“A healthy economic future needs a healthy natural environment infrastructure. This is something on which we all depend”, said Siobhán Egan of BirdWatch Ireland. “Bringing the environment into policy development at a national level will help to address some of our most serious environmental, economic and social issues such as climate change, the loss of public benefits provided by our terrestrial and marine environments, and a declining quality of life.”
Charles Stanley-Smith, Chairperson of An Taisce says “We support a ‘New Green Deal’ within the Government’s ‘Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal’, with the emphasis on the development of Green Technology. We also have plans for a very ambitious ‘warmer homes’ scheme to combat fuel poverty, unemployment and carbon emissions through supporting and incentivising the retro-fitting of insulation to 1 million homes, and at very little cost to the government or the home owner”
The new Environmental Pillar is made up of environmental groups who operate at a national level. They range from large established organisations such as BirdWatch Ireland and An Taisce, to smaller but influential groups such as Feasta, the Foundation for Economics of Sustainability. The pillar’s main areas of interest include climate change, biodiversity, planning, water, waste, transport and the socio-economics of a sustainable future.
The Environmental Pillar representatives are Oisín Coghlan (FOE Ireland), Karin Dubsky (Coastwatch). Siobhán Egan (Birdwatch Ireland), Charles Stanley-Smith (An Taisce). Michael Ewing coordinates the Pillar’s activities.
The Environmental Pillar website is www.environmentalpillar.ie
About the Environmental Pillar
The Environmental Pillar represents 28 national environmental groups in social partnership. It uses the Irish Environmental Network as its secretariat.
The Environmental Pillar representatives are:
Oisín Coghlan (FOE Ireland),
Karin Dubsky (Coastwatch).
Siobhán Egan (Birdwatch Ireland),
Charles Stanley-Smith (An Taisce).
Michael Ewing coordinates the Pillar’s activities.