Who we are & what we do

Who we are & what we do

Established in 2009 by government decision, we are comprised of 32 national independent environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and we work together to represent the views of the Irish environmental sector.

The work of our members covers a broad range of areas including habitat conservation, wildlife protection, environmental education, sustainability, waste and energy issues, as well as environmental campaigning and lobbying.

We envision a world where people and planet thrive alongside each other, and work in a number of areas to bring it about.

Climate Change

Climate change remains the defining challenge of our age. The Environmental Pillar is working to map a path to a sustainable future, which addresses not just decarbonisation but also energy security, economic competitiveness and social cohesion. 


The Environmental Pillar is working with the other social partners to explore how Ireland can position itself to prosper in a 21st century that will see a shift to a steady state economy. Initiatives which reduce energy use or which produce it from renewable resources must be prioritized.

Environmental Democracy

Public involvement in decision making is essential if a truly sustainable future is to be created. In this context, the full implementation of Agenda 21 and the Aarhus Convention is essential.


Our very existence, our quality of life and our economy depend on the health of our natural infrastructure. In order to protect biodiversity and the public services it provides, the Environmental Pillar is working with sectors of society to ensure that biodiversity protection and enhancement is integrated into: all natural resource and land use management (including agriculture and forestry); activities in the marine environment; and the way in which we try to prevent climate change and respond to climate change.

Resource Efficiency

Reduction and better management of waste is vital to long term environmental, social and economic well-being. We need to break the strong link between economic development and waste generation. There are many opportunities for employment and industry in this area.


We need to promote public transport through low cost mechanisms, and the intensive promotion of cycling in urban areas. Taking freight off the roads an on to rail and water is another essential part of a sustainable transport future. .


The need for proper planning of land use, infrastructure and sustainable communities requires the effective engagement of the public in these critical decision-making processes that affect both their health and environment. Involvement of the public at the earliest possible point in full assessment of the impacts on the environment of projects, policies and programmes is essential.


We must reduce the impacts of domestic waste, forestry, agriculture and drainage on water quality. Public involvement in water management is not just a legal requirement of the EU Water Framework Directive but is essential if a new sustainable water management path is to be taken.

Our Staff

Karen Ciesielski


Karen Ciesielski is the Coordinator of the Environmental Pillar. With 20 years experience in non-profit management, fundraising, communications, advocacy and campaigning, Karen works to promote the interlinked principles of environmental, social and economic sustainability by supporting Pillar members. She is also the CEO of the Irish Environmental Network.

Justin Byrne


Justin is the Administrator for the Environmental Pillar, having joined the organisation in 2010. Previously he worked for KPMG as IT Operations Manager and prior to that in management for a division of Unigate PLC in London. He has extensive experience in planning issues. Justin is also the COO of the Irish Environmental Network.

Ciaran Brennan

Communications Officer

Ciaran is the Communications Officer for the Environmental Pillar. Ciaran has many years’ experience as a journalist and as a public relations/communications specialist. He has a keen interest in environmental protection and advocacy and has worked with Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland, written for the ThinkorSwim climate action blog and currently is working on a small rewilding/nature restoration project on his own land.