The IUCN is a membership union composed of both government and civil society organisations, including many NGOs. It undertakes valuable work for biodiversity, including administering the Red Lists for vulnerable species. Ireland supports the IUCN and is a government agency member, through my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
The IUCN is not a decision making body in the sense of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or other multi-lateral environmental agreements (MEAs) that Ireland is party to. Accordingly, our engagement with the IUCN must be considered in the context of the resources available to the NPWS and its other priorities at any given time.
NPWS is the focal point for most MEAs relating to nature and biodiversity and resources available to deal with this wide range of areas are limited. With this in mind, decisions are made within the Department on how best to focus these resources to represent Ireland's concerns and views in this area appropriately. In our capacity as an EU member, Ireland is also part of a much larger, strong and coherent voice for nature and biodiversity on the global stage.
Ireland's priority has long been the CBD - its Conference of the Parties (COP) and its subsidiary meetings SBSTTA and SBI, which deal with scientific and implementation matters of the CBD respectively. It is imperative that Ireland has a presence and a voice at these important UN decision making forums.
On the 12th and 13th of October next, I will participate in the first phase of the delayed CBD COP15, the High Level Segment. Over the past 12 months, I have taken part in several international initiatives addressing the biodiversity crisis, including the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity hosted by France in January. Ireland has also signed up to the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, a global initiative to mobilise political will for a new and transformative biodiversity framework at COP15.
In the meantime, my Department's NPWS has already participated this year in a number of preparatory meetings for COP15, namely SBSTTA-24 and SBI-3. While officials normally attend in person, these meetings have been held virtually to accommodate the restrictions in place as a result of the global pandemic.
The NPWS is also involved in ongoing work at EU level to develop and agree strong positions for the EU and its Member States at the COP through regular meetings of the Working Party on International Environment Issues (Biodiversity).
In order to maximise its reach, within its remit, NPWS directs its resources in this area to servicing the key decision making bodies such as CBD, CITES and EU level working parties and expert groups as well as other more focused but important areas including the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), CMS-Eurobats, Access and Benefit-sharing of genetic resources (ABS), African and Eurasian Waterbirds Agreement (AEWA) and the Council of Europe’s Bern Convention.