“We in the EPA recognise our important role in providing online, up-to-date and accessible information on the environment to stakeholders. We are working hard to make environmental information interesting and relevant to the public, to stimulate increased engagement with the environment and to mobilise sustainable behaviours”,
said Laura Burke, Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency, speaking at the 13th annual Environment Ireland conference .
In discussing the state of the environment in Ireland in 2017, Ms Burke’s keynote speech highlighted ongoing and future challenges in relation to environmental protection. It focused particularly on two of the challenges identified in the EPA’s recent state of environment report – the implementation of legislation and community engagement.
“We all own the environment and have a responsibility for its care and protection: after all, our health, our wellbeing, our economy, our very culture depends on it.
“We in the EPA are keen to foster community engagement and to provide the supports required to empower citizens to become more informed about, and engaged with, environmental and sustainability issues. It is the work and protection at a local level that contributes significantly to the overall state of the environment in Ireland.”
Ms Burke explained that the EPA has a strong track record in providing good quality and reliable information and emphasised that the EPA is keen to further advance its work beyond what is currently in place.
“A key strategic priority for the EPA in the coming years is to work with others to advance citizen science initiatives, particularly in air quality, water quality and in sustainable behaviours. We see significant opportunities and benefits in closing the loop where the very citizens to whom we have been delivering information become active participants in co-creating environmental data, particularly within their local communities.”
At the conference, Laura Burke also announced that the EPA and An Taisce will work together to rollout the GLOBE citizen science programme in Ireland,
“GLOBE is an international science and education programme that connects students, teachers and scientists to better understand, sustain and improve Earth’s environment. Since 1995, more than 29,000 schools in 117 countries have participated in GLOBE. Nearly 140 million measurements have been contributed to the GLOBE science database creating research-quality datasets that are available to all. The initial focus of the GLOBE programme in Ireland will be on air and will involve a pilot programme in a number of primary, secondary, urban and rural schools in Ireland.”
Michael-John O’Mahony, Director Environmental Education Unit, An Taisce added,
“The Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce is delighted to bring the hugely successful GLOBE programme to Ireland in partnership with the EPA. GLOBE will give teachers and students across Ireland the skills, training and support to engage in meaningful scientific investigations about their local environment and to put this in a global perspective.”