Calls have been made for the Assembly to show “vision and focus” and introduce innovative changes to environmental policies to benefit future generations.
The demands for the province to become “a leader in sustainability” come from leading environmentalists and academics.
In an open letter printed in today’s Belfast Telegraph, the group urges politicians developing the Programme for Government to work towards becoming a “low carbon economy”.
It says the next 10-year Assembly period requires further focus on what “really matters to the long-term health and wellbeing of the people of Northern Ireland”.
The letter, which is supported by the National Trust, Friends of the Earth and academics from Queen's University, says issues such as fuel poverty, social exclusion and environmental degradation have not been addressed properly.
They say changes are needed in a range of areas, including:
- A modernised and integrated transport system.
- New laws and annual targets ensuring carbon emissions are reduced by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.
- An independent environmental protection agency.
- A range of protected areas at sea.
- A modern planning system created by 2016 to deliver a thriving economy and protecting cultural heritage
The letter warns politicians “spirit and vision” was needed.
One of the signatories of the letter, Dr James Robinson, director of RSPB Northern Ireland, said: “We need a quite a significant shift in our values in how we understand not just the environment, but how it impinges on issues of energy for the future and the economy.”