The government has a wealth of environmental targets looming in 2020, coming from a wide range of legislation and policy (from Europe, UK and NI government). Because of the ‘life–cycle’ of any NI Executive, government can find it difficult to see threats and opportunities in the medium– to long–term. Thus, NIEL has an important role to play in monitoring progress toward 2020 targets and raising awareness of our current status in relation to them.
The Vision 2020 project seeks to identify these targets and the legislation and policy documents from which they arise, to identify how we can measure progress towards those targets, and then to produce an analysis, based on hard data, of the progress that NI is making in relation to the following areas:
- Biodiversity, habitats and ecosystem services
- Built heritage
- Waste management
- Greenhouse gases and energy
Vision 2020 Conference – Obligation through Innovation
The annual Joint NIEA–NIEL–SAC conference was held at Crumlin Road Gaol on Friday 6th December 2013 and the theme for the day was Vision 2020. A brief overview of current progress towards meeting a range of statutory environmental targets was provided. Scene–setting presentations were followed by a series of workshops which facilitated discussion between representatives from environmental NGOs, practitioners and policy makers. A series of ‘Big Ideas’ (for example, signing MLAs up to be champions for habitats and species / MLA–NGO pairing scheme; sustainable catchment management; ecosystem service and valuing natural capital; resource efficiency; civic pride campaign) and associated practical actions which can offer multiple wins and accelerate progress towards achieving 2020 targets were identified.
There were some key messages from the day which could help contribute to a healthier, more valued and resilient environment. They included:
- Fundamental, not incremental change (in government and society)
- Partnerships are crucial – especially with the business sector
- We need to use language that is understandable to all
- Relentless optimism and innovation are key to success
See Northern Ireland Environment Link’s “Vision 2020 – Assessment of Progress on Targets” for an analysis of Northern Ireland’s progress toward UK government and EU targets: