As a society, we are forced to deal with ever pressing challenges, particularly over the past few years. Although the worst effects of the pandemic are hopefully behind us, COVID-19 continues to have a global impact and we may not be out of the woods just yet.
However, arguably the biggest challenge facing the world is the climate emergency. In the coming weeks, more than 200 international leaders will descend on Glasgow for the momentous COP26 conference, and it is hoped that a coordinated action plan will be agreed upon to tackle the severe effects of climate change.
The policies agreed by world leaders will potentially help shape how the most powerful nations plan to drastically cut their carbon emissions output, which in turn will have an impact on how every organisation is governed.
At this stage of the climate crisis, we are nearing the point of no return. COP26 will hopefully result in significant targets and guidance that we can realistically aim towards.
Ultimately, it is everyone’s collective responsibility to adhere to these policies in order to increase the opportunities for meaningful change to protect the future of our planet.
As a public body, Loughs Agency will also demonstrate its commitment to achieving net zero reduction targets. We are currently developing a comprehensive Climate Action Plan addressing all of our operational areas.
A sizeable remit means any actions we take can manifest positive change within our jurisdictions in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We have a responsibility to protect and conserve two of the island’s most significant cross-border environmental assets, and this is a challenge we embrace with determination and enthusiasm.
The Agency’s mission statement outlines our aim to “sustainably manage, promote and develop the fisheries and resources of the Foyle and Carlingford areas”.
This puts us at a clear advantage, as our work already includes nature-based solutions which play an integral role in combatting climate change.
These include tree-planting, drought and flood resilience, and educational outreach programmes which underpin our corporate approach. There is undoubtedly scope to embed many more crucial initiatives in setting the strategic direction for Loughs Agency as we all help address the climate crisis.
We are also proud to be involved in various innovative projects, all of which have a positive impact on our spectacular landscapes and marine life.
Loughs Agency’s dedicated teams as lead partner for the SeaMonitor Project, Catchment Care and Wet Woods initiatives to name but a few, are all carrying out pioneering work in the field of environmental conservation, and it is encouraging to see the robust progress made thus far.
As with many organisations, there is nevertheless much still to be done and we are currently carrying reviews and scoping exercises to identify areas where we can become more sustainable in our day-to-day operations.
Climate change is not selective in who it affects – we are all at risk if we do not begin treating this crisis with the severity that it demands.
The eyes of the world are now focussed on COP26 to provide us with the leadership and renewed sense of optimism required for the future.
Sharon McMahon is chief executive of the Loughs Agency