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ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN IRELAND

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INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

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TRADE

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CHANGING CONSUMPTION PATTERNS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

There is no single Department charged with responsibility for sustainable production and consumption. However, the Department of the Environment and Local Government has an overall co-ordinating role in relation to the implementation of the national sustainable development strategy - Sustainable Development: A Strategy for Ireland. Otherwise, all Departments have responsibility for relevant aspects of sustainable production and consumption, e.g. the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is responsible for industrial production and also for consumer issues; the Department of Public Enterprise is responsible for issues of sustainable consumption in the transport and energy sectors; etc..

No specific bodies are charged with these issues at local or regional levels. However, insofar as their responsibilities include issues of sustainable development (e.g. Local Agenda 21, development of local and regional indicators of sustainable development), both the local authorities and the regional authorities might be considered the relevant administrative authorities in this regard. Local Agenda 21, in particular, would include issues such as efficient use of resources and consumer involvement/awareness, which are relevant to sustainable production and consumption. Primary responsibility for Local Agenda 21 is at city/county authority level (34 authorities), with the eight regional authorities having a co-ordinating role.

There is no specific policy or work programme on sustainable production and consumption. Overall national policy on sustainable development was published in 1997 as Sustainable Development: A Strategy for Ireland. Specific references to sustainable production and consumption are made in particular in the chapters on industry and public action and awareness, while relevant aspects are also included in other chapters, most notably those dealing with transport and energy.

The Irish Energy Centre (established under a national energy conservation programme in place since 1994) carries out programmes with industry on energy efficiency. The Cleaner Production Promotion Centre and the Clean Technology Centre also work with industry in relation to its production processes and the technologies used. Since 1990, Dublin has had a permanent ban on marketing, sale, and distribution of bituminous coal. In 1995, this practice was adopted in Cork. In connection with these bans, a special weekly allowance (in 1995, 3 weekly) paid by the Department of Social Welfare to lower income groups has helped overcome the increased cost of environmentally friendly fuels in comparison to bituminous coal. These schemes cost IR6 million and IR1.6 million for Dublin and Cork, respectively.

The Transport Operational Programme 1994-1999 reflects a development of previous policy, which was largely concerned with National roads. The Programme has put an increased emphasis on rail transport, urban public transport, and local road networks .

The Dublin Transportation Initiative (DTI) includes proposals for the increased use ofpublic transportation. Effective action on traffic management and enforcement is acknowledged as essential (including parking restraint),particularly in Dublin City, if the DTI strategy is to be successfully implemented and its objective of shifting commuters from the private car to public transport is to be achieved. At the same time it is recognized that there is a need to provide for certain business, shopping, leisure, and tourist trips by private car as part of the policy of supporting the continued viability of the city centre. Almost $600 million will be invested in public transport and enforcement measures over the period 1994 to 1999.

A national strategy on recycling, Recycling for Ireland, was adopted in 1994; it establishes targets for waste recovery and recycling up to 1999. A national policy statement, Waste Management: Changing Our Ways (September 1998) has as a major general objective to stabilise, and in the longer term, reverse the growth in waste generation. Specific targets over a fifteen-year timescale include recycling of 35% of municipal waste, and recycling at least 50% of construction/demolition waste within a five year period, with a progressive increase to at least 85% over fifteen years.

In April 1996, following a major review of renewable energy policies and programmes, the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications (now the Department of Public Enterprise) launched Renewable Energy - A Strategy for the Future which sets out the long-term development of renewable energy in Ireland and has the overall objective of increasing the proportion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources. The Strategy identifies a current practicable resource of up to 800 Megawatts (MW) of renewable energy sources, and sets out measures to exploit this resource. Subject to the strategy targets being met, the renewable energy electricity generation capacity will be 10% of total installed capacity by the end of 1999 and approximately 14% of total installed capacity by the year 2010.

Since 1995, the Department has operated a series of Alternative Energy Requirement (AER) schemes to secure electricity generation capacity from alternative energy systems. The results of the third AER were announced during 1998. Thirty contracts have been awarded for a total of 159 MW of renewables-generated energy in the following categories:

These projects, which are to come on stream by the year 2000, will generate over 675 million units of electricity, sufficient for 300,000 people.

Issues of green procurement are included in policy for green housekeeping, as set out in The Green Government Guide, which was circulated to all Government Departments in August 1996, and subsequently to local authorities and semi-state bodies. The Guide sets out how the public sector can demonstrate better environmental management practice. In adopting the principles of green housekeeping, benefits for the environment can be realised through reductions in the consumption of natural resources, emissions, discharges and waste generated. The adoption of green housekeeping principles, as well as producing administrative savings, can also enhance the quality of service. The move to independently certified environmental management systems, such as ISO 14001, which is now being pursued by a number of Government Departments and local authorities, is seen as a logical extension of the process initiated with the Green Government Guide.

The Guide recommended that:

Areas where significant environmental gains can be achieved and which have already been identified in the Department of the Environment & Local Government's green housekeeping plans include:

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

While there is no overall legislation on sustainable consumption and production, the principle of extended producer responsibility is incorporated in the Waste Management Act, 1996. Specific regulations made under this Act refer to relevant issues such as recovery/recycling of packaging. In addition, the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licensing system operated under the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992, requires scheduled industries to take on board many relevant principles, including cleaner technology and cleaner production to reduce and minimise waste production, as an important facet of the environmental management systems required under the terms of IPC licences.

The REPAK Scheme, launched in 1996 by the Industry Task Force on Recycling, represents an important producer responsibility initiative in respect of packaging waste. REPAK operates a packaging waste recovery scheme which is open to membership by all suppliers of packaging. In 1997, a similar scheme commenced in relation to collection and recovery of waste farm plastics; this is operated by the Irish Farm Films Producers Group (IFFPG), a body established by the plastics industry in co-operation with the Irish Farmers' Association.

These codes of practice were initially established by industry as voluntary initiatives. However, a key purpose of regulations made under the Waste Management Act, 1996, is to provide a framework for industry-led, voluntary recycling initiatives to operate without competitive disadvantage to their members. Both the REPAK and IFFPG schemes referred to in question 9 have been approved for the purposes of these regulations, which place substantial recycling obligations on industry.

The European Union's Eco-label scheme operates in Ireland as an information aid for consumers, setting criteria for categories of products which establish their environmental credentials. Products covered include washing machines; dishwashers; soil improvers; laundry detergents; paper kitchen rolls; double- and single-ended light bulbs; bed linen and T-shirts; indoor paints and varnishes; and refrigerators.

The Department of the Environment and Local Government participates along with other Government Departments and Agencies in an Environmental Tax Group, which is chaired by the Department of Finance. In line with Government policy, as stated in Sustainable Development: A Strategy for Ireland, this group's objective is to develop a medium to long-term policy on environmental taxation and to seek to structure a progressive shift in taxation from labour to polluters. This involves two approaches: removing anomalies or distortions in the current system of taxation and subsidies, including those which hinder labour-intensive environmental activities, to ensure that the structure of existing arrangements does not have significant adverse effects on the environment; and developing new measures to secure more environmentally-friendly behaviour across economic sectors. Measures incorporated in recent Budgets include tax relief for investment in wind and other renewable energy projects, with the aim of reducing emissions and promoting environmentally friendly energy sources; improved capital allowances for farm pollution control; and more favourable treatment from an excise duty point of view of unleaded petrol compared to leaded and super unleaded petrol.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

See under Decision Making: Coordinating Bodies 

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

See under Decision Making: Coordinating Bodies 

Status 

The use of energy in Ireland is growing; between 1980 and 1993, the total primary energy requirement grew by 24%. The amount of energy consumed per capita is also increasing, and this trend is projected to continue. The growth has been driven principally by marked increases in energy use in the transport and commercial sectors. The industrial sector, on the other hand, has decreased its energy consumption by 19% since 1980.

Under the Transport Operational Programme 1994-1999, the investment in railroads has increased from 3% of the total amount available in the programme for the period 1989-1993 to 11% for the period 1994-1999. Urban transport has increased in the same period from 2% to 14%, and non-National roads from 8% to 17%.

Targets in relation to waste reduction and recycling include

Five-to-twenty per cent of investment in Dublin's Transportation initiative is earmarked for a general improvement in improved traffic management and enforcement and enhanced facilities to accommodate an increase of cycling and walking. Progress on the Initiative's 1995 Strategy has been achieved across a number of fronts to date, including improvements in public transport (both bus and rail) and in facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as significant investment in traffic calming and traffic management. In addition, there has been significant progress in achieving widespread public acceptance of the need for a holistic approach to transportation planning with an emphasis on the more sustainable modes - public transport, cycling and walking.

Despite this progress, there has been some slippage in the implementation of the full Strategy, and this, coupled with increased demand for travel in the Strategy area, has led to the preparation of a Short Term Action Plan (1998) to address immediate needs. The Plan is designed to accelerate the implementation of those elements of the DTI Strategy that can be completed in the period up to the year 2000. It focuses on public transport enhancement, traffic management, parking policy and the provision and promotion of cycling facilities, and also includes a comprehensive public information campaign to promote sustainable transport choices.

One of the objectives in the National Development Plan and the Community Support Framework is a strong management of tourism policy, with special attention being paid to measures which will encourage a greater seasonal spread of activities.

Since 1990, Dublin has had a permanent ban on marketing, sale and distribution of bituminous coal; this was extended to Cork in 1995 and to a further five cities and towns in 1998. The purpose is to improve air quality in these urban areas. In connection with these bans, a special weekly allowance paid by the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs to lower income groups has helped overcome the increased cost of more environmentally-friendly fuels in comparison to bituminous coal.

Ireland participates in the THERMIE and SAVE programmes within the European Union. The aim of the former is to promote new technologies for improving energy efficiency and to enhance the use of alternative energy sources. The objective of the latter is to promote efficient energy use on the demand side, focusing on key areas including boilers, buildings, car inspection systems, and energy audits.

In general, any methods adopted by industry are on a voluntary basis. As noted above, however, the (mandatory) requirements of Integrated Pollution Control licensing for larger industries and activities include the introduction of environmental management systems which may incorporate changes in methods and processes. The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that, since the introduction of IPC licensing in May 1994, and the issuing of the first IPC licence in 1995, there has been a noticeable swing away, in many IPC licensed companies, from investment in end-of-pipe technologies in favour of source reduction of pollutants. This change of emphasis is taking the form of changing from hazardours to less hazardous materials, rationalisation and reduction of solvent use, reduction in water use and more efficient use of energy.

A pilot demonstration initiative on Cleaner Production, carried out as part of the R&D sub-programme of the Operational Programme for Environmental Services, 1994-1999, was approved in late 1996. The initiative was to be implemented in two phases, under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency, aided by an independent consultancy team. Companies selected would be expected to implement an approved cleaner production/environmental management programme within one year. Following this, the companies would participate in a publicity campaign to disseminate the findings to a wider industry audience.

Following an open call for proposals which was advertised in the press in January 1997, fourteen companies were selected for participation in the demonstration programme. Contracts were signed in June, and the programme was formally launched in October 1997. Projects in the programme included waste reduction, conversion of waste, recycling, effluent and emissions reduction, and the implementation of environmental management systems. The participant companies were from a range of sectors including dairy, pharmaceuticals, metal finishing, tannery, printing, textiles and the hospitality sector.

The fourteen companies completed their projects by September 1998 and are now engaged in the publicity phase. Case study reports have been published and synthesis and final reports are currently being prepared.

As noted above, the Environmental Protection Agency has identified a noticeable trend in IPC licensed companies toward more sustainable production, for example through more efficient use of energy and water.

Challenges

Constraints include Ireland's strongly growing economy, which leads to increasing energy and transport use - these make the move to more sustainable production and consumption in these sectors both more crucial and more difficult.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

Programmes for industry:

A training programme in environmental management was launched early in 1997 by the employers' body IBEC (Irish Business and Employers' Confederation), in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Technology Centre and An Taisce - the National Trust for Ireland (a major NGO). This partnership brings together the expertise of these groups to raise awareness of environmental issues.

The training programme covers the legal, technical, community and financial aspects of sustainable development in an industrial context. It aims to help to develop in Irish industry a pro-active approach to environmental management, and also to improve interaction between business and non-governmental organisations in the field of the environment. The main objective of the programme is to use training to improve the environmental performance of Irish industry.

Programmes for consumers/domestic households

The GAP Household ECOTEAM Programme, operated by the NGO Global Action Plan Ireland, is designed to guide and support individuals in taking effective action for the environment through:

While operating on a fairly small scale to date, the programme is supported by a number of local authorities around the country, and has also received some funding from the Department of the Environment and Local Government. It is seen as both a means of raising awareness on sustainable development issues, and a practical contribution towards achieving Local Agenda 21 objectives.

The annual Energy Awareness Week, co-ordinated by the Irish Energy Centre on behalf of the Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise and the Energy Advisory Board, remains the single most important platform for promoting energy efficiency in Ireland. The two objectives of the 1998 campaign were:

The primary target audience was household consumers. The campaign informed them of how much energy they use, where it comes from, and the longer-term implications of current consumption trends. It aimed to make them aware of the extent to which energy use is within their control and how they can get greatest value from that energy.

For consumers, this is a three-stranded process. Firstly, influencing consumer purchase behaviour in favour of the most energy efficient option (e.g. a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) instead of an ordinary light-bulb). Next, informing consumer product usage, such that all products (new and old) are used in the most efficient way possible (e.g. so that heating timers and thermostat settings do not result in wasted heat, or by driving one's car in a more conservative way). Finally, to stimulate consumer investment in energy efficiency products and services which can save substantial energy (e.g. lagging jackets).

Among the activities run during Energy Awareness Week 1998 were: an Energy Exhibition at ENFO (the Environmental Information Service);

Other activities and promotions were run by the Energy Advisory Board partners [the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), Bord Gáis Éireann (the Irish Gas Board) and Bord na Móna (the Irish Peat Board)], as well as other bodies such as CIE (which operates public bus and rail companies) and the Dublin Transportation Office. These last two focused on highlighting the transport options available to consumers and their relative energy implications.

Information

The enforcement of most environmental law (e.g. regarding water pollution or air pollution) is primarily a matter for local authorities. The Environmental Protection Agency, established in 1993, has responsibility for environmental monitoring in Ireland, and also for:

overseeing the pollution control and related environmental activities of local authorities and ensuring that they are carried out in an effective manner.

General environmental information is disseminated through the Environment Bulletin, which is issued quarterly by the Department of the Environment and Local Government. The Bulletin comprises short articles and contact points, as well as a calendar of events and details of recent publications; from time to time, its contents may include issues relevant to sustainable production and consumption. Information on these and other issues is also available through a number of

Work on indicators of sustainable development is still at an early stage, and while specific indicators of consumption and production patterns have not been developed, a number of relevant projects are currently ongoing.

National level work

At Central Government level, an Inter-Departmental Steering Group on Sustainable Development Indicators was established in 1998. The Steering Group is made up of representatives from the Departments of Environment and Local Government, Agriculture and Food, Finance and Public Enterprise, together with the Irish Energy Centre, Forfás (the development authority for indigenous industries), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The objectives of the Steering Group are to:-

The EPA and CSO already collect a wide range of statistics, including environmental data. The EPA are currently working on national environmental indicators with the emphasis on eutrophication, waste and the urban environment, and will produce a national report by the end of 1998; this report will be circulated initially for discussion, with a view to finalisation and publication by April 1999. The Agency also has regard to the work of the European Environment Agency, and other relevant agencies of the European Union in this area. In addition, the CSO is involved in a European Union project to develop satellite, "green" accounts within the framework of national accounts.

Local/regional sustainability indicators

Sustainability Indicators Working Group was established in 1998 by the Dublin and Mid-East Regional Authorities with representatives also from some of their constituent local authorities and from the Department of the Environment and Local Government. Possible indicators being examined include urban expansion (loss of agricultural land, loss of amenity land, development of infill sites), social integration (socio-economic indices), transportation (journey to work mode, journey to school mode, diversion away from car), biodiversity (loss/gain of species), water (consumption, leakage, savings), waste (production minimisation, waste stream separation, recycling), water and air quality (relationship to European minimum standards), energy consumption and use, noise, use of natural resources and coastal sustainability.

Research and Technologies  

Clean and environmentally sound technologies are promoted and applied in production through the following:

Clean Technology Centre

A major promoter of clean and environmentally sound technologies in Ireland is the Clean Technology Centre, which is located at the Cork Institute of Technology. The Centre was established almost seven years ago as an example of co-operation between industry, academic and government, to provide expertise, service and employment at the leading edge of improvements in environmental performance. It was initially funded by the European Union's European Regional Development Fund with financial assistance from prominent members of the pharmaceutical and chemical sector, but now strives to be largely self-financing. The span of its work encompasses industry, government (both local and national), and international collaboration. Nine European projects and three national projects, together with industrial projects for several dozen companies, have been the mainstay of the Centre to date.

The Clean Technology Centre (CTC) believes that the most important environmental issues today involve the development of sustainable production and consumption programmes. This requires total commitment and involvement by local and regional authorities and government. These issues are best tacked at the local level. CTC is thus involved in several European initiatives to examine using local programmes as tools for sustainability and striving to expand the boundaries of current human understanding.

On the local level, perhaps the most important development is the co-operation between CTC and local authorities. The Cork region is pursuing an active programme towards sustainability, which includes waste reduction as the primary focus. Projects range from generation of electricity from landfill gases to abstraction of heat from rock and soil for provision of heating. A recently announced project for recycling and re-using construction and demolition waste will further emphasise the co-operation between the local authority and CTC. Similarly, another local authority has initiated clean technology training for industries which it licenses, and has actively been involved in an international clean technology project with CTC; the results of this project have been disseminated internationally.

Cleaner Production Promotion Centre

Located in University College Cork, the Centre focuses on academic input into cleaner production processes, and has established a network with EU and US institutions.

Better Environment Awards for Industry

Enterprise Ireland (a State agency) sponsors the annual Better Environment Awards for Industry (which are associated with the European Better Environment Awards for Industry). The awards scheme includes a category under the heading of Cleaner Technologies for companies which have developed new technologies or techniques in their production processes, resulting in significantly less environmental impact

Financing

Activities may be financed from the national budget, or through private sector funds, or a combination of both.

Cooperation

Ireland participated in the preparatory committee for the planned United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Conference of Ministers in relation to transport and the environment. Ireland also participates in the THERMIE and SAVE programs within the European Union (EU). The aim of the former is to promote new technologies for improving energy efficiency and to enhance the use of alternative energy sources. The objective of the latter is to promote efficient energy use on the demand side, focusing on key areas including boilers, buildings and car inspection systems, and energy audits. Ireland has been cooperating with Northern Ireland in a series of conferences addressing energy efficiency in buildings, industry, etc. Ireland has a natural gas linkage with the United Kingdom, the European Continent, and beyond.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Ireland to the fifth and seventh sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: December 1998.

Clickhere for the Department of the Environment and Local Government

Click here for ENFO, the Environmental Information Service

Click here for the Environmental Protection Agency

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FINANCING

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available. 

Status 

The elimination of environmentally unfriendly subsidies in Ireland is addressed in the National Sustainable Development Strategy (1997). Subsidies are given to firms for undertaking environmental audits and for promoting industrial education in environmental management and energy use. Subsidies are also given to the agricultural sector, as direct payment under the farmyard pollution programme, and as support for farm improvements, and education through the Agriculture and Food Development Authority linking environmental issues and agriculture. Grants are available, for example, for recycling projects, and site energy audits and surveys. Since 1995, a grant has been available towards the purchase of a new car where a 10 year-old (or older) car is scrapped.

In Ireland, the following economic instruments are currently being applied. An annual levy of 3% of the market value on a property is applied in an urban area which is derelict. User charges as a fixed proportion are being levied on most households in order to pay for water and waste services. Volume-related charges are generally levied in respect of industrial effluent discharged to municipal waste water treatment plants. The Environment Policy Research Centre within the ESRI has published a research study and recommendations on the fiscal system and the polluter-pays-principle, aimed at broadening the range of instruments which might be applied.

The Department of Environment funds an Environment Policy Research Center to study the economic aspect of environmental policies. This process also entails reviewing and revising economic instruments, and developing new instruments. Since 1992, the Government has provided the following new and additional grant funds for sustainable development not specifically earmarked for the sectoral chapters under review in 1996: US$90,000 to the Voluntary Fund for the Desertification Convention; US$30,000 to the Voluntary Fund for the Climate Change Convention; and US$15,000 Trust Fund for the Commission on Sustainable Development.

Administrative charges are applied as a fee on environmental licensing and monitoring. Level of fees payable to the Environmental Protection Agency for integrated pollution control licenses reflect the need to maintain equity between different sectors and to avoid placing an undue burden on small sized enterprises. A lower level of excise tax is charged on unleaded fuels than on leaded petrol resulting in a steady increase in the sales of unleaded petrol. Special rates of exemption and tax write-offs are provided for urban renewal in designated urban areas and certain seaside resorts. Income tax relief is allowed to owners or occupiers of historic buildings who provide reasonable access to the public. A Vehicle Registration Tax (13.30% - 29.25% of the retail open market selling price) and annual road tax (IR92 - IR800pa) are graduated by reference to the vehicle size.

An Environmental Tax Group in the Department of Finance, with representation from relevant Departments and Agencies, is undertaking a complete examination of possible options for environmental taxation for purposes of future budgets. This will develop a medium to long-term policy on environmental taxation and seek to structure a progressive shift in taxation from labour to polluters.

In 1994, Ireland joined the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It has implemented environmental impact assessment (EIA) as a standard part of aid-project appraisal, and has made an important contribution to environmental projects in developing countries, for example Lesotho and Tanzania.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available. 

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

This information was provided by the Government of Ireland to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1998.

For information on participating States in the Global Environment Facility, click here:

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TECHNOLOGY

Transfer of Environmentally-Sound Technology

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

Work on developing and promoting the concept and use of clean technologies is undertaken by the Clean Technology Center at Cork Regional Technical College. The focus is on minimizing waste and avoiding pollution. It is co-funded by members of the Irish chemical/pharmaceutical industry and by European Union (EU) structural funds. In addition, the Cleaner Production Promotion Center at University College Cork focuses on academic input into cleaner production processes. The Center has also established a network with EU and USA institutions.

Ireland is involved in two projects in Tanzania: a coastal protection programme in Tanga and a joint research project in the field of hydrology. The coastal protection programme is a multi-disciplinary project managed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Ireland to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

Biotechnology

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

In Ireland, the Ministry for the Environment is responsible for the legal and political issues relating to the environmentally sound management of biotechnology. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the competent authority for the purpose of monitoring and regulations. Ireland has both legislation dealing with environmentally sound management of biotechnology and a broad based research capacity. The Genetically Modified Organisms Regulation, 1994 came into effect on 1 January, 1995. It gives legal effect to two European Union (EU) directives on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms (90/219/EEC) and the deliberate use of genetically modified organisms (90/220/EEC).

Ireland has brought together biotechnology expertise in one organization, Bio Research Ireland. One of its key functions is to raise awareness of biotechnology. Almost half of all University-based researchers work in biotechnology. Biotechnology is being used for in-house treatment of waste and the recovery of energy for re-use. Since 1985, the Government has been funding research within the sector.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available. 

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available. 

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Ireland to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to go to the Web Site of UNEP's International Register on Biosafety.
Click here for the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Biosafety WebPages

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INDUSTRY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Department of Enterprise and Employment is responsible for the implementation of industrial policy. The Department works closely with the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and Marine in developing natural resource based industry reconciled with conservation and environmental protection objectives.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

A national sustainable development strategy for ecologically sustainable industrial development was published by the Minister for the Environment in April, 1997. "Sustainable Development - a Strategy for Ireland" comprehensively addresses all areas of Government policy which have an impact on the environment.

For the period 1994-1999, Ireland adopted both a European Community Support Framework (CSF) and a National Development Plan. Both the CSF and the Plan have as their primary objective the enhancement of Ireland's economic performance through sustainable growth and development. They are both multi-sectoral and cover a vast range of Agenda 21 issues. The Plan is primarily designed for addressing the needs of industry, tourism, and rural development. The CSF is based on principles which will entail focusing on cleaner technologies, waste minimization and recycling, and pursuing a policy of conservation of energy and other raw materials.

Voluntary initiatives in relation to the industrial sector include: participating in the annual industry environment awards schemes, exploring the potential of voluntary agreements to reduce emissions, developing initiatives to implement the National Recycling Strategy, and implementing environmental management and auditing at the company level. In March 1995, Ireland, as an European Union (EU) member, launched the Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), and complemented it with some of its own standards under the Environmental Management Systems (EMS). Integrated pollution control (IPC) and the licensing measures handled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are continuously being expanded to address a broader range of industrial activities.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available. 

Status 

Ireland has largely escaped the serious land use contamination problems of industrialised countries where heavy industry operated for many years before the need for environmental protection was fully acknowledged. Nevertheless, it is necessary to guard against the potential contamination and erosion of soils. Furthermore, recent environmental protection strategies have tended to concentrate on reducing emissions to air and water. This has left soil as the least regulated disposal option and it is therefore increasingly exposed to pollution threats. Integrated pollution control (IPC), where applicable, is designed to prevent this from happening in the future.

Ireland has an extensive Green Industry concerned with the protection of the environment. This industry comprises a variety of services in the public and private sectors. In view of the increasing world-wide demand for environmental goods and services, consideration is being given to whether special initiatives are required to stimulate the development of these industries. Ireland already has an extensive support structure for enterprise and industrial development generally.

It is expected that the demand for goods and services in waste management and in environmental monitoring and environmental services will be particularly strong, but there will be opportunities across all sectors both at home and in markets across Europe and worldwide. The Irish Trade Board (ABT) has put in place a new marketing programme to work closely with firms in identifying and exploiting these opportunities. Forbairt (the Irish business development agency) has also being supporting firms in the sector and has a project in place to identify further opportunities. Joint working arrangements between ABT and Forbairt have been established to prepare joint development strategies and consistent operational arrangements between the agencies in sectors with good growth potential.

Forbairt has adopted a positive approach to the promotion of environment protection measures. Its environment division has a wide range of technological capabilities which are used to encourage and assist companies to meet their obligations in the area of environmental protection. Forbairt is currently implementing an initiative to help Irish businesses to identify environmental threats posed by their current operations and to implement solutions which will avoid current or potential environmental damage. In addition, Forbairts Irish Energy Centre manages an extensive programme to help industries to use energy more efficiently by reducing their consumption of hydrocarbons and by eliminating waste among the initiatives.

The National Accreditation Board (NAB) is active in the field of advising industry on the implementation of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) standards as a means to secure ongoing compliance with Environmental Regulations. In addition, the NAB message to industry emphasises the role of Environmental Management Systems in improving competitiveness and opening up new markets. Through its contact with industry NAB has noted the financial burden this presents to smaller industries and the need for them to be supported in achieving basic legal compliance and/or aspiring to the ideals of the Eco-Management & Audit Scheme Audit (EMAS) regulation. There is a need in the case of these smaller companies to provide technical advice, support and grants in this area.

The supply of substantial volumes of water is essential for many of Irelands principal industries. These are mainly in the food, electronics, pharmaceuticals and chemical sectors. Ireland has large freshwater resources, and the availability of such resources is not a constraint on development at national level. There are, however, a number of locations in which the available infrastructure would not cater to the development of new industries requiring large quantities of water. Industrial discharges are controlled under the licensing provisions of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts, 1977 and 1990 or in the case of activities with significant polluting potential, the integrated pollution control (IPC) licensing provisions of the Environmental Protection Act, 1992.

Freshwater pollution by industry is not a major problem in Ireland. Most substantial industries are located in coastal areas and discharge effluent in accordance with approved procedures into the sea - often after substantial effluent treatment. Inland factories are subject to strict controls which are generally effective.

The Government is promoting policies and programmes in a wide range of areas concerned with atmospheric protection, including industrial pollution control. Participation by industry and the private sector is crucial for meeting the atmospheric objectives of the EU.

Under the Energy Audit Grant Scheme the Irish Energy Center provides grants of 40%, subjected to a maximum of IR5,000, to energy users in the industrial, institutional, and commercial sectors for the hiring of consultants to make energy audits. The Energy Efficient Investment Support Scheme provides grant assistance to energy users within these sectors. The grants paid out are for energy technology and amount to 40% of the investment subjected to a IR250,000 maximum.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.  

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

* * *

 

This information was provided by the Government of Ireland to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1998.

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TRANSPORT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

The Government is promoting policies and programmes in a wide range of areas concerned with atmospheric protection, including environmentally sound and efficient transport. The National Development Plan and the Transport Operational Programme 1994-1995 are the major policy directives in the transportation area. The Transport Operational Programme 1994-1999 reflects a development of previous policy, which was largely concerned with National roads. The Programme has put an increased emphasis on rail transport, urban public transport, and local road networks while recognizing the importance of the interurban road network to the attainment of the objective of economic and social cohesion. Under this Programme major infrastructure investments will be undertaken with special regard to the use of environmental impact assessment procedures and public participation.

The Dublin Transportation Initiative (DTI) includes proposals for the increased use of public transportation. Effective action on traffic management and enforcement is acknowledged as essential (including parking restraint), particularly in Dublin City, if the DTI strategy is to be successfully implemented and its objective of shifting commuters from the private car to public transport is to be achieved. At the same time it is recognized that there is a need to provide for certain business, shopping, leisure, and tourist trips by private car as part of the policy of supporting the continued viability of the city centre. Almost $600 million will be invested in public transport and enforcement measures over the period 1994 to 1999. In addition, a lower level of excise tax is charged on unleaded fuels than on leaded petrol resulting in a steady increase in the sales of unleaded petrol. Special rates of exemption and tax write-offs are provided for urban renewal in designated urban areas and certain seaside resorts

Under the Transport Operational Programme 1994-1999, the investment in railroads has increased from 3% of the total amount available in the programme for the period 1989-1993 to 11% for the period 1994-1999. Urban transport has increased in the same period from 2% to 14%, and non-National roads from 8% to 17%.

Ireland has participated in the preparatory committee for the planned United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Conference of Ministers in relation to transport and the environment.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.  

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

* * *

 

This information was provided by the Government of Ireland to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1998.

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SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation is responsible for sustainable tourism at the national level. At the local level, the Bord Failte, or Irish Tourist Board, the Shannon Development and Regional Tourism Authorities are responsible.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Policy is set out in the government's national policy: Government departments and agencies either directly responsible for tourism or whose activities impact on it either have, or are, developing policies and guidelines for sustainable tourism. In addition areas have been designated as National Parks, Special Areas of Conservation, etc.

Through the European Union LIFE Programme, a report designating a series of landscapes for protection/management was funded in 1996. Implementing this report will be a key element in the Irish Tourist Board's Tourism Development Plan 2000-2006.

The National Plan on Sustainable Development required that a National Coastal Zone Management Strategy Study be undertaken to lead to a National Policy for the Sustainable Use of the Coastal Zone.

Tourism is structured by product and each product has its own code of standards which are self-regulatory except for accommodation sectors where standards are based on legislation. Government standards exist for the accommodation sector and are enshrined in legislation. Other sectors are voluntary and self-regulatory. Tax/grant incentives are available only to those that adhere to approved codes of standards. However, this system allows a significant volume of unapproved operators to benefit from tourism.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Ireland has adopted several strategies and plans that have a positive impact on sustainble tourism. These include:

Issues relevant to sustainable tourism that are covered by these strategies include:

The tourism section of the National Plan for Sustainable Development identifies eco-tourism and nature-based tourism among the key strengths of the Irish tourism product. A major objective of the tourism section is that tourism development policy must leave the physical and social environment undiminished and, ideally, enhanced as a resource for future enjoyment by domestic and foreign visitors alike.

Twenty pilot "Tourism and the Environment" projects were initiated in 1998 and will be completed in 1999. They include projects to measure carrying capacity, visitor management, exploration of new tourism routes, access control mechanisms for sensitive locations, an Irish Eco-Cottage project, etc. The results of these pilot projects will be used to develop a range of procedures to measure, correct and revise sustainable tourism programmes, including the Irish Tourist Board's Tourism Development Plan 2000 - 2006 referred to elsewhere.

The National Plan 'Sustainable Development' includes in its action programme towards sustainable tourism a number of control mechanisms viz.:

.Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

All plans and programmes referred to above were formulated following extensive consultation with the tourism industry, local authorities and a wide range of local groups and individuals.

In addition, Pilot Initiatives on Tourism and the Environment include projects to improve the consultation/decision-making process. For example, An Taisce - The National Trust for Ireland is receiving substantial funds to carry out a project which will propose a new framework within the development planning process to enhance consultation and participation with regional tourism organisations, local community groups, Chambers of Commerce, Local Authorities, NGOs, rural tourism groups, and other agencies at national, regional and local levels.

Programmes and Projects 

In 1998 a national programme to increase awareness of sustainable tourism among the tourism industry and the wider population of Ireland was initiated at a cost of £350,000 Irish Punts. This programme will be completed in 1999 and will focus on the core brand values of Irish tourism, the importance of protecting these values and the critical roles each individual plays in achieving those objectives.

Eco-tourism and nature-based tourism are marketed through various directed means. The Operational Programme for Tourism provides funding forproduct development over the 1994-1999 period. This supports the development of large tourism projects, heritage attractions, tourist information offices, angling, special-interest activities, monuments and historic properties and the natural environment. EU support will be available for agritourism projects and for tourism initiatives assisted by County Enterprise Boards, LEADER companies, the INTERREG programme for border areas, urban renewal programmes and local area partnership.

Future policies will include greatly expanded marketing investment by tourism enterprises, product marketing companies, the development of an Ireland Tourism Brand and an expanded Marketing Advisory Service.

The Operational Programme for Tourism will support a marketing investment concentrated on extending the season, expanding sea and air access, developing new markets, developing product and nichemarkets and attracting more high-yield business.

Status 

Tourism is a buoyant and dynamic growth sector of the Irish economy and the most successful sector in the creation of new employment. Tourism revenue from overseas grew at an unprecedented rate of nine percent per annum over the period 1988 to 1993. Continental Europe now accounts for fofty percent of this revenue and has overtaken Britain as the most important market. Total tourism spending -- domestic and overseas -- is now in excess of £2 billion Irish Punts2 and supports 91,000 jobs, a growth of almost 30,000 new jobs since 1987. This represents more than fifty perent of all new jobs created in Ireland in that period.

The Government set a target to increase foreign earnings to £2.25 billion Irish Punts by 1999, creating 35,000 new jobs in the economy. This will require an average annual growth rate of six percent per annum in real terms.

The impact of tourism on other issues related to sustainable development is outlined in the tourism section of the National Plan on Sustainable Development. These include:

The National Plan, having identified these negative impacts included in its action programme towards sustainable tourism a range of remedial programmes viz.

The Governments national plan acknowledges that the success of tourism is having adverse effects on facets of the Irish economy and society. However, the Government is aware of these effects and has introduced plans to counteract and minimise them. The Minister of Tourism, Sport and Recreation has introduced major initiatives to set up 20 pilot projects to measure the impact of tourism on the environment and seek solutions to minimise the negative effects and better manage the influx of visitors. Specifically, the government's national plan charges relevant government departments and state and local government agencies with addressing the adverse impacts of tourism on their areas of responsibility and influence.

Developing sustainable touirism requires planning for the impact that tourism congestion can have on communities and promoting greater community involvement in tourism planning and development. Initiatives proposed to conserve the natural landscape and the built features in it include Naitonal Scenic Landscapes, more effective planning control, and measures to conserve Heritage Properties. Many of these proposals, e.g., Historic Hotels, a Naitonal Trust, restoration of great houses and gardens, and Gite-style rented houses, would create exciting new extensions of Ireland's product range as well as contributing to conservation.

The management priorities are control of waste generated by residents and tourists and the removal of visual blight caused by promotion of services to tourists. Proper control can benefit everyone.

Challenges

The activities of a range of government departments and bodies impact on sustainable tourism, and there is a need to constantly remind them that they are required under the national plan on sustainable development to take account of tourism's requirements. There is also a lack of public awareness and this is being addressed in the Environmental Awareness Programme mentioned above.

Irish tourism also suffers from problems of seasonality and regionality, and these are constraints on sustainable tourism. Both of these constraints are being addressed through the Irish Tourist Board's marketing and development plans.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

The plan has concentrated on how the physical product should be developed, but it is important to consider what must be done to achieve complementary standards of customer needs. Everybody involved in the many diverse components of the industry must become highly professional. Sustained investment will be required to achieve the skill improvements needed and cater for the demands of a rapidly evolving market.

The integration of tourism studies into the educational system at all levels and the range and quality of specialist tourism courses available at third level will be vital in providing a flow of trained professionals into the rapidly growing industry.

Within the industry itself the priority must be to create a training culture so that every enterprise recognizes the importance of a planned programme of skill development on and off the job. By concentrating on equipping staff at all levels to cater for customer needs and by placing this in a firm context of career development, employers can enhance the image of the tourism industry as a quality employer.

A major awareness-raising campaign was initiated in 1998 under the auspices of the Overseas Tourism Marketing Initiative. This is a group consisting of representatives of the leading bodies and firms in Irish tourism, including the Irish Tourist Board and the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation. Total cost will be £350,000 Irish Punts, with £200,000 being contributed by the Irish government through the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation's Pilot Initiatives on Tourism and the Environment and the balance of £150,000 being contributed by the Irish tourism industry. The objective of this programme is to increase awareness among the tourism industry and the wider population of Ireland of the core values of Irish tourism.

With the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation the Irish Tourist Board plans a publicity campaign this year aimed at increasing awareness among the tourism industry of sustainable tourism.

At the local level, Irish tourism is coordinated by six Regional Tourism Authorities and a government agency for the mid-west of the country - Shannon Development. Each of these publishes a tourism development plan which includes sustainable tourism. These plans are circulated widely at local level.

The Irish Tourist Board publishes newsletters sent to tourism interests, local authorities, public representatives, Chambers of Commerce and other local interest groups promoting sustainable tourism. The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation publishes its report (already referred to) to stimulate awareness of sustainable tourism. The Irish Tourist Board and the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation will jointly publish a further policy statement on Sustainable Tourism in 1999.

Within its overall marketing plans the Irish Tourist Board engages in marketing activities aimed at environmentally-conscious tourists (see its Marketing Plan already referred to). Regional Tourism Authorities, product marketing groups, rural tourism groups and accommodation sectors such as the Farmhouse Holidays Association also market to environmentally - conscious tourists.

Information

National information available to assist both decision-makers and the tourist industry in promoting sustainable tourism includes the reports discussed above and an External Evaluator's report No. 15 on the Operational Programme for Tourism "Tourism and the Environment Initiative".

The Irish Tourist Board and the Irish National Trust working in partnership with the LIFE programme of DGXI of the European Commission carried out a study to identify a landscape protection strategy and it mapped 3 pilot areas. Duchas - the Irish Heritage Service is charged with identifying Special Areas of Conservation and, so far, has designated 200 special Areas of Conservation.

Some of the information is available on the World Wide Web (see link below). This is still being developed. By 2000 the Web Site will have material on sustainable tourism. Regional and local Internet sites are being developed and these will be linked to the Irish Tourist Board site mentioned above.

Evaluation of sustainable tourism projects, which are largely funded through the European Union's Operational Programme for Tourism, is undertaken by the EU's external evaluator, who measures the effectiveness and results of this Programme. In addition the Irish Tourist Board's Tourism Development Plan "Managing Tourism Growth 2000-2006" also evaluates the European Union's Operational Programme for Tourism.

Research and Technologies  

Under the Pilot Initiatives for Tourism and the Environment already referred to, studies are under way to improve traffic management in areas of tourist congestion. Issues being addressed include road improvements, signposting, coach parking, carrying capacity of the local environment, litter management plans, etc.

There are no environmental management systems in hotels at present which are coordinated at a national level. Individual premises and tourist establishments introduce their own systems.

Financing

Funds for sustainable tourism projects come from a number of sources including:

Cooperation

The National Plan "Sustainable Development: a Strategy for Ireland" provides the framework for cooperation with local government agencies and the private sector. The same is true of the Irish Tourist Board's and the Irish Tourist Industry (private sector) Strategic Plans.

The National Plan is designed to ensure that there is full integration of sustainable development principles in both local authority and private sectors involving the following actions:

Extensive cooperation also takes place almong the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, local authorities and local groups on a range of projects in Border areas.

This information was provided by the Government of Ireland to the fifth and seventh sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: December 1998.

For the official Web sSte of the Irish Tourist Board, click here.



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