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Appeal for Participants in First Children and Young People's Assembly on Biodiversity Loss

14th September 2022
The Youth Advisory Team residential meeting took place on the DCU St Patrick's campus.  It was the first in-person meeting of the team who were working together with the researchers for DCU and UCC to plan the Children & Young People's Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, which will take place over two weekends in October
The Youth Advisory Team residential meeting took place on the DCU St Patrick's campus. It was the first in-person meeting of the team who were working together with the researchers for DCU and UCC to plan the Children & Young People's Assembly on Biodiversity Loss which will take place over two weekends in October

Young people with an interest in biodiversity loss in marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments have been invited to apply to join Ireland’s first national children and young people’s assembly dedicated to the issue.

The new Children and Young People’s Assembly aims to inform the national Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss which is sitting this year.

A total of 35 children and young people will be selected randomly across Ireland as assembly members, with applications to join closing on September 18th.

However, all young people aged up to 17 years are invited to submit their views and ideas on biodiversity loss on sea and land throughout the month of September on a new website cyp-biodiversity.ie

The Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss comprises 99 randomly-selected adult members of the public, who are aged 18 and over, and an independent chairperson.

It has been tasked by the Oireachtas with examining how the State can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss.

It believes children and young people also have the right to have their say, as biodiversity loss poses a significant threat to children’s right to a healthy, safe environment.

The Children and Young People’s Assembly is being designed by an intergenerational group, comprising a young advisory team and an independent research consortium.

The young advisory team involves nine children and young people from across Ireland, aged between eight and 16 years.

The research consortium includes experts in children’s participation, deliberative democracy, and biodiversity from Dublin City University *(DCU), University College Cork (UCC), and “terre des homes”, an international organisation with a focus on children’s environmental rights.

Elsie (8), a young advisor from Co Tipperary has said she believes it is “important that children and young people like us can have our say because we don’t usually get to be involved in things that adults do and we have lots of interesting things to say.”

Amhairghin (15), a young advisor from Co Donegal and Co Down said that “diversity is the key to this process”.

“If we don’t have ideas coming from every aspect of life, we’ll be stuck with a rigid, one sided argument. It’s also really important that young people deliver these arguments as we are the future. It’s time that we saw the action that is needed,” she has said.

Dr Diarmuid Torney, research consortium lead and an associate professor at DCU’s School of Law and Government, said that Ireland has “developed a strong reputation over the past decade in the inclusion of the voices of the adult population in policymaking through citizens’ assemblies”.

“Through this project, we aim to build on this reputation by creating a robust process to include the voices of children and young people in decision-making on the critical topic of biodiversity loss,”he said.

Katie Reid, research consortium member and children’s environmental rights and participation officer with “terre des homes”, said she has supported children’s participation in Scotland’s Climate Assembly, which was the first citizens’ assembly to involve under 16-year-olds directly.

“I experienced how deliberative democratic processes can be enriched by taking an intergenerational approach that includes our youngest citizens’ views and ideas,” Reid said.

Dr Clodagh Harris, research consortium member and senior lecturer in UCC’s Department of Government and Politics, quoted a native American proverb – “ we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”.

“Decisions made (or not made) on biodiversity loss today will have irreversible consequences for children and young people. It is essential that their views are heard,” Harris noted.

Applications to become an assembly member can be submitted online here

The closing date for applications is Sunday, September 18th. Those randomly selected will need to be available to attend two assembly meetings, on October 7th to 9th in Glencree, Co Wicklow, and on October 21st to 23rd in Killarney, Co Kerry.

An open submissions portal has been created for other children and young people to contribute to the assembly, which will remain open until September 30th.

Submissions can be written, artwork, video clips or photographs, and a short explanatory film is on this link

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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