NI Executive Draft Environment Strategy - consultation response

In January 2022, we responded to a consultation by the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA), on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive, on the draft Environment Strategy. RCPCH Ireland responded to draft Outcomes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6.

The RCPCH agrees with Strategic Environmental Outcome 1: 'Excellent air, water, land & neighbourhood quality'. We highlight that children are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, and therefore welcome the commitment to publish NI’s first Clean Air Strategy in 2022. We also welcome the actions and targets associated with the ‘excellent water’ aspect of this Outcome particularly the commitment to improve all water body status and investment in sewage infrastructure & treatment works. Our impact of climate change on global child health position statement sets out that as a minimum, all children everywhere must have access to safe water and sanitation.

The RCPCH agrees with Strategic Environmental Outcome 2: 'Healthy & accessible environment & landscapes everyone can connect with & enjoy, particularly the commitment to fully implement ‘Exercise-Explore-Enjoy: A Strategic Plan for Greenways’ and to development a new Strategy for Sport and Physical Activity for the next 10 years and beyond which we called for in our State of Child Health 2020 report. However, we believe targets for access to nature rich settings for children could be improved.

The RCPCH agrees with Strategic Environmental Outcome 4: 'Sustainable production & consumption on land and at sea', and we call for a bespoke Green Health and Social Care Strategy to support this.

The RCPCH agrees with Strategic Environmental Outcome 5: 'Zero waste & highly developed circular economy'. The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC), of which RCPCH is a part, sets out that government action on plastics pollution should be properly resourced, take place in an adequate timeframe, and be enforceable by law. UKHACC added that too often, environmental action falls short of one or more of these criteria.

The RCPCH agrees with Strategic Environmental Outcome 6: 'Fair Contribution to UK net zero greenhouse gas emissions & improved climate resilience and adaptability'. The commitment to achieve legislative passage of a Northern Ireland Climate Change Bill to deliver on New Decade, New Approach commitments to underpin this and associated strategies is paramount.

Download the full response below.