News

UK Government commit to reporting on SDGs in 2019

The UK Government intends to share progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2019.

Lord Bates wrote to Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee and in the letter, he confirmed that the Department of International Development (DFID) intends to submit a Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the 2019 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to outline its intended approach for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Review of Environmental Governance in Northern Ireland

Ray Purdy and Peter Hjerp at Ecocentric were commissioned in late 2015 to undertake a review of environmental governance issues in Northern Ireland, by a coalition of Northern Ireland non- governmental organisations (NGOs).

The Report looks at the adequacies of existing environmental governance arrangements in Northern Ireland and seeks to develop and strengthen ways in which Northern Ireland deals with environmental governance. 

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Blog: Climate Change legislation in Northern Ireland - Is it just a lot of hot air?

By Suzie Cave, NI Assembly Research Matters

Climate change and the need for legislation to address it still remains a debate in Northern Ireland (NI), where specific legislation has not yet been introduced. The following article considers the introduction of specific climate change legislation in NI, exploring some of the main arguments expressed for and against it.

Autumn Budget 2017: Benefits in kind - electric vehicles

Autumn Budget 2017: Employees that charge their electric vehicles at work will not incur a benefit-in-kind charge on the electricity used.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the move, which will come into effect from April 2018, during his Autumn Budget 2017 speech today (22 November).

The announcement is part of the government’s focus on electric vehicles, which includes a new £400 million charging infrastructure fund, an extra £100 million investment in the plug-in-car grant, and £40 million in charging research and development.

Read more.

Solar farm to power NI Water plant

The NI Water solar farm will be made up of 27,000 solar panels

Northern Ireland Water has started building a £7m solar farm to power one of its key water treatment plants.

It is hoped the facility, on the shores of Lough Neagh, will be finished by March 2018.

It will see 27,000 solar panels built on a 33-acre site.

It is being developed next to the Dunore Water Treatment works, near Belfast International Airport in County Antrim. 

NI Water says the solar farm will power the plant and any excess will be fed back into the grid. It expects to save £500,000 per year in energy costs.

Chief Executive Sara Venning said it would allow the company to cut costs and reduce its carbon footprint. "It's a win-win," she said. 

It is the first time NI Water has developed a large-scale renewable energy option. Ms Venning said the company would look at the potential of doing something similar at other sites.

NI Sustainable Development Goals website launched

The NI Open Government Network is working in partnership with networks in England, Scotland and Wales to build the capacity of citizens and civil society to use open government approaches to progress the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are a universal framework to end poverty and protect the planet, adopted by all countries at the United Nations in 2015. They provide us with a new social contract between Government and citizens, an opportunity to address systemic problems in a coherent way, and the chance to create a culture of collaboration and partnership with stakeholders in the UK. 

A new website has been launched to support this initiative, please visit globalgoalsni.org for more information.

Helping kids to grow their own food - Sow, Grow, Munch.

As someone who grows vegetables and helps others to grow them for their own restaurants I still get really excited by the freshness and flavour that comes from something that’s just picked, that can’t be bought.

Not only is it sustainable in terms of food miles, lowering our carbon footprint and encouraging biodiversity - it connects people to the land, their environment and more importantly where their food comes from. Our food system, and the ingredients that we use do not have to be as complicated as they have become.

Michael Kelly from GIY Ireland has a name for this – “food empathy” - a deeper understanding of food, where it comes from, how it is produced, and the time and effort required.

Book Review: The Positive Deviant: Sustainability Leadership in a Perverse World

Driving to Lake Tanganyika in Zambia, our ancient Land-Rover first stuttered, then ground to a debilitated stop, somewhere outside Mporokoso. A long way from any town and with over 200 kilometres to our intended destination, this was a predicament. We identified the problem as an irreparably broken fuel pump. Our solution, which took some time to conceive, was to rig up a gravity-fed system by means of hanging a 5 litre plastic container of petrol inside the cabin, linked to the carburettor with a length of plastic piping. It was unpleasant, it stank, it used our precious fuel at an alarming rate and it was probably fairly hazardous, but it got us to the Lake. In other words, it was sufficient, it was a good enough solution.  

These words form the key idea that Sara Parkin employs to underpin her call to action throughout this excellent manual for sustainability leadership, The Positive Deviant.

Freiburg – a transport tour de force

In November 1944, much of the medieval centre of Freiburg was flattened by bombs during an air-raid. Yet its magnificent cathedral survived - miraculously unscathed - and many of the buildings in the 'Old Town' have since been rebuilt in their original designs to delight today's residents and visitors alike.

But Freiburg's historical façade sits alongside some thoroughly 21st century technology in what has come to be known as Germany's capital of sustainable living. When the city was re-built and extended, it was with new ideas and on enlightened, carbon-conscious principles. Solar panels are ubiquitous, highly energy-efficient housing is the norm and it boasts the most efficient and integrated transport system you’re likely to encounter anywhere in Europe.