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Economic Aspects | Natural Resource Aspects | Institutional Aspects | Social Aspects |Ireland

NATURAL RESOURCE ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN IRELAND

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  • Agriculture
  • Atmosphere
  • Biodiversity
  • Desertification and Drought
  • Energy
  • Forests
  • Freshwater
  • Land Management
  • Mountains
  • Oceans and Coastal Areas
  • Toxic Chemicals
  • Waste and Hazardous Materials

    AGRICULTURE

    Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry administers the Operational Programme for the Control of Farmyard Pollution. A Code of Good Practice to Protect Waters from Pollution by Nitrates was launched in July 1996 by the Ministers for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and the Environment which is required by European Union (EU) Directive 91/676/EEC (the Nitrates Directive). This Code prescribes methods to prevent or minimize the pollution of waters from nitrates by adopting certain farm waste management techniques.

    Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

    No information is available.

    Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

    Ireland has experienced an intensification of stock-farming leading to excessive nutrient enrichment of some waters, particularly by nitrogen and phosphates. Overgrazing, especially by sheep, has also become an issue of concern. In 1992, an agreement on a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was reached. The policy was accompanied by two schemes for investment aid: the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) to promote environmentally friendly farming, and a complementary scheme for on-farm investment measures called Control of Farm Yard Pollution (CFP).

    Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

    No information is available.

    Programmes and Projects 

    The REPS, the CFP, and the Farm Improvement Programme (FIP) have major roles to play in the prevention of nutrient enrichment of water courses. All participants in REPS are required to draw up a nutrient management plan in order to maintain the quality of water resources by minimizing nutrient losses from agriculture. Under CFP and FIP, participants receive grant aid towards the provision of animal housing and waste storage facilities.

    The Erne Catchment Nutrient Management Scheme (ECNMS) was launched during 1996 under the EU's Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland. This Scheme offers a nutrient management service to intensive farmers on both sides of the Border along the River Erne in Counties Cavan and Monaghan in the Republic, and Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.

    Organic crop production is governed by European Economic Community (EEC) Regulation No 2092/91. A draft regulation on organic livestock production is currently under preparation at the EU level. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has approved three Organic Certification Bodies who provide advice, information, and certification of farms which are converting to the organic system of production. In addition, the Department's Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry, 1994-1999 contains a Scheme of Aid for the Development of the Organic Farming Sector. A number of allocations were made under the Scheme for 1996, and further allocations will be made for 1997, 1998, and 1999. In addition, additional financial payments are available to organic farmers under the Department's Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). There were 430 organic farmers in Ireland at the end of 1995, covering a land area of 12,400 ha.

    Research, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, in the area of sustainable agriculture is ongoing. Under the Structural Funds of the Teagasc (agriculture and food research and development authority) Environment Protection Programme, research is to be focused on the following priority areas: (i) the development of viable nutrient and waste management strategies designed to minimize the impact on the environment of agriculture and other developments in rural areas; and (ii) the development of strategies for the enhancement of rural landscapes and the ecological management of set-aside areas, including habitat re-establishment studies. Projects under this research programme include Sustainable Farming Systems; the Environmental Impact of Phosphorus; the Environmental Impact of Nitrogen; Waste Management; Land Use Management; and Soil Fertility. These projects will provide the scientific basis for the implementation of EU and National legislation pertaining to agriculture and the environment.

    Farmers are the key major group in meeting the objectives of the Operational Programme. Substantial assistance has been provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry in recent years in grant aid for pollution control facilities under the CFP and the FIP. A total of about 1 million cattle and 800,000 sheep have been housed, with effluent storage of 6.1 million cubic metres and fodder storage of 2.6 million tonnes. Between 1986 and 1995, 26,000 applicants received grant aid for a total of 120 million under the FIP. A further 145 million was allocated in grant aid to some 25,000 applicants under the CFP Scheme between 1989 and 1993 and under funds agreed for the period 1994-1999.

    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.

    For country reports on Plant Genetic Resources, click here.
    To access the FAOSTAT Data Base for information by country, item, element and year, click here:
    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 link to Country and Sub-regional Information on Plant Genetic Resources of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
    Click here to go to Web Site of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which includes information on the Codex Alimentarius and the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
    Click here to access the Web Site of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
    Click here to access the sixteen international agricultural research centers that are members of the CGIAR.

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    ATMOSPHERE

    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 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Environment are the institutions primarily responsible for this sector. Post-Rio, the Air Quality Act, 1987 and the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 have been reviewed, taking into account the measures recommended in Agenda 21. Ireland has also implemented emissions standards to reduce the adverse environmental effects of benzene, sulphur, and lead. In 1994, the Irish Energy Center was established to coordinate the implementation of the National Energy Conservation Programme and other Government policy on energy efficiency, renewable energies, and research.

    The Government is promoting policies and programmes in a wide range of areas concerned with atmospheric protection, including energy efficiency, environmentally sound and efficient transport, and industrial pollution control. In 1995, a scheme of Power Purchase Agreements amounting to 111 megawatts (MW) was approved. The scheme includes 34 alternative energy projects providing over 100 MW at a cost of 70 million over the next fifteen years. A competition to secure a 30 MW Biomass/Waste to energy electricity generating plant is nearing completion and further renewable energy targets have been set to 2010. Ireland is currently complying with European Union (EU) Regulation EC 3093/94, which adopted targets to phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) (except for essential use) by 1995, halons by 1994, carbon tetrachloride by 1995, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 2015, 1,1,1,-trichloroethane by 1996, hydobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs), and curbs on methyl bromide by 1996.

    Ireland's capacity to observe and assess transboundary atmospheric pollution and to exchange information is sufficient. The Government has conducted surveys concerning air pollution and selective limited observations regarding emissions from traffic. The Government has also facilitated training opportunities, data and information exchange at both National and international levels. 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.

    Government spending from multilateral trust funds, including the Vienna-Montreal Trust Fund, went from $246,414 in 1993, to $321,754 in 1995. After Rio and in addition to the global conventions, Ireland has acceded to a number of other international agreements concerning transboundary air pollution, including the Sofia Protocol and the Second Sulphur Protocol, both in 1994.

    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

    In Ireland, the Montreal Protocol (1987) and the London Amendment (1990) were ratified on 10 August 1992; the Copenhagen Amendment (1992) was signed in 1996. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was ratified on 20 April 1994.

     

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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 for national information from the Web Site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
    For the access to the Web Site of the Ozone Secretariat, click here:

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    BIODIVERSITY

    Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

    No information is available.

    Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

    Ireland can meet the requirements of jurisdiction of the Convention on Biological Diversity via the Wildlife Act, 1976. A National Biodiversity Plan is being drawn up in accordance with Article 6 of the Biological Diversity Convention. The plan will integrate the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into all sectoral and cross-sectoral plans, programmes, and policies. A Heritage Council was established on a statutory basis in 1995, to propose policies and priorities for the identification, protection, preservation, and enhancement of the National heritage, including the promotion of interest and knowledge in the National heritage.

    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 

    In 1992, the Government decided to preserve 550,000 ha (7% of the State area) as Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs). These sites are reserved for Ireland's native flora and fauna. To date, over 100 special protection areas (SPAs) have been designated under EU Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the Conservation of Wild Birds (Birds Directive). Regulations to transpose European Union (EU) Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (Habitats Directive) into Irish law are at an advanced stage. Following the making of these regulations, special areas of conservation (SACs) will be designated. Proposals are currently being prepared to include a system of compensating for curtailed farming practices in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). Due to the mostly extensive nature of Irish agriculture, landscape quality and habitat biodiversity have been well conserved in addition to hedges/streams and field systems. Improvement in the authorization process for plant protection products and the continuing success of REPS, which contains measures to retain wildlife habitats, should act to preserve these valuable resources into the future.

    In 1995, there was no indication of species loss over the previous 10 years. However, some species are in serious decline due to changes in farming practices. Habitat destruction is thought to be the main reason for the decrease in biological diversity. Pollution and over-harvesting (mainly in the marine environment) are also of concern. Ireland has set aside protected areas, including National parks and nature reserves. Regulation of exploited species takes place, as does ex-situ maintenance of threatened populations, and establishment of pilot studies in restoration ecology. Ireland has conducted surveys on Areas of Scientific Interest (ASIs) to review old areas and to set up new ones.

    Farmers who have land designated for Natural Heritage Areas containing habitats listed in EU Habitats and Birds Directives are eligible for higher payments under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme. Within the EU, Ireland has obtained funding for purchasing threatened areas. Ireland participates in international conservation by cooperating, for example, with Northern Ireland authorities on protected areas for birds.

    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

    In Ireland, the Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in 1992 and ratified in 1996. The Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed in 1974. In addition, Ireland has ratified the Berne Convention on Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Ireland intends to ratify the CITES, the objectives of which are already in force in Ireland through European Economic Community (EEC) Regulation No. 3626/82.

     

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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.

    For access to the Web Site of the Convention on Biological Diversity, click here:
    For access to the Web Site of the CITES Convention, click here:
    For the Web Site of the CMS Convention, click here:
    For the Web Site of the Convention on the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage, click here:
    For the country-by-country, Man in the Biosphere On-Line Query System, click here:
    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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    DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

    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 

    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

    The International Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Drought and/or Desertification Particularly in Africa was signed by Ireland in October 1994.

     

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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.

    For access to the Web Site of the Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought, click here:

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    ENERGY

    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 

    In 1994, the Irish Energy Center was established to coordinate the implementation of the National Energy Conservation Programme and other Government policy on energy efficiency, renewable energies, and research.

    The Government is promoting policies and programmes in a wide range of areas concerned with atmospheric protection, including energy efficiency, environmentally sound and efficient transport, and industrial pollution control. In 1995, a scheme of Power Purchase Agreements amounting to 111 megawatts (MW) was approved. The scheme includes 34 alternative energy projects providing over 100 MW at a cost of 70 million over the next fifteen years. A competition to secure a 30 MW Biomass/Waste to energy electricity generating plant is nearing completion and further renewable energy targets have been set to 2010.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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    FORESTS

    Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

    The Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is responsible for National forest policy. Public forests are managed by the State company, Coillte Teoranta. In 1996, the Government published a Strategic Plan for the Development of the Forestry Sector in Ireland, a long-term development plan for the sector up to the year 2030. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and planning permission is required for afforestation projects over 70 ha. A range of environmental controls is applied to all afforestation projects including guidelines in relation to the landscape, fisheries, and archaeology.

    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 

    Some 70% of Irish forests are owned by Coillte Teoranta, reflecting the dominant role of the State in forestry development. The balance of ownership is changing, however, as the private sector, and in particular farmers, becomes increasingly involved. In 1995, 27% of afforestation was undertaken by Coillte Teoranta and 63% by the private sector, of which 85% was undertaken by farmers.

    The area under forest in Ireland has been steadily increasing from the 1% under forest at the turn of the century to the current 8%. The annual afforestation targets are 25,000 ha/per/annum up to the year 2000 and 20,000 ha/per/annum thereafter to the year 2030. This should increase the area under forest to 17%. Harvesting is controlled by a licensing procedure, under which replanting is a basic condition. Because of the relatively young age of the forest estate, only about 5,000 ha are being harvested (and replaced) annually.

    The forest estate is predominantly Sitka spruce, an exotic conifer species, but there is an increasing emphasis on species diversity and on the planting of broadleaves in particular, for which the target is 20% of planting. Irish forests are managed primarily for timber production on the basis of sustained yield.

    Consultation with the public on forestry has been on an ad hoc basis. In early 1994, a wide range of interested parties and the general public were invited to make submissions in relation to the Strategic Plan for the Development of the Forestry Sector in Ireland. The Forest Service has produced and distributed a series of school video packs on forestry. Since 1989, courses on forest establishment and maintenance, forest harvesting, and the downstream timber industry have been developed in addition to forest degree courses. Two thousand trainees have graduated from these courses.

    The total investment planned for forestry in the period 1989-1999 is IR521 million, of which some IR170 million was spent under the Forestry Operational Programme 1989-93. The contribution from the European Union (EU) is IR303 million of the total amount. The Strategic Plan for the Development of the Forestry Sector in Ireland estimates that the cost of the afforestation programme to the end of 2030 will be over 3 billion.

    Ireland participates in EU forest health surveys; United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forest related activities; the Pan-European Process on the Protection of Forests in Europe; and the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. The Pan-European Process is developing the concept of sustainable forest management in Europe and the criteria and indicators by which it can be measured

    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 for UN ECE's timber data base for Ireland.

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    FRESHWATER

    Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

    The Department of Environmental and Local Government and the Environmental Protection Agency are responsible for the development of national water resource management. The terms of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, provide for the preparation and implementation of national water resource monitoring programmes and overseeing the performance by the 33 local authorities of their statutory environmental protection functions.

    Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

    Government measures to prevent pollution of fresh water supplies as well as for integrated land and water management and development are detailed in its May 1997 policy document entitled Managing Ireland's Rivers and Lakes - A Catchment Based Strategy Against Eutrophication. Key measures include major investment in waste water services to comply with the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (IR166 million invested 1994-1996), targets and standards to eliminate pollution of freshwaters, the promotion of the Code of Good Agricultural practice, the stringent application of industrial effluent licensing conditions and the extension of IPPC licensing to intensive agricultural activities in the pig and poultry sectors. At the local level, county development plans, water quality management plans and the operation of integrated pollution control licensing for selected activities all contribute to integrated land and water management.

    Under national legislation, the local authorities can prepare water quality management plans within which all of the beneficial uses of waters can be identified, judgements made on how demands can best be met, and measures that are needed to preserve and improve the quality of water resources for all beneficial uses can be determined. Local authorities operate a licensing system for effluent discharges to waters and to sewers from activities other than those covered by the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, authorities have an extensive range of powers to combat diffuse sources of pollution.

    When policies are formulated, draft county development plans and water quality management plans proposed by local authorities are put on display for public inspection and comment by interested parties. These views are taken into account before plans are finalized. All major groups have open access to this process. A national Environmental Forum will be established shortly with wide representation from Social Partners and environmental NGO's to facilitate participation in the achievement of sustainable development.

    In addition to the framework of the planning process, the planning legislation provides a decision making process which allows conflicts to be identified and decided upon at the local level with an appeals system to an independent statutory body. Provision has also been made for mandatory environmental impact assessment of a wide range of activities likely to have significant effects on the environment. The catchment based approach involves the inclusion and input of all local stakeholders in the development of a strategy to manage and develop their shared water resources.

    Since Ireland does not have a separate regulatory framework, the following laws apply to water management, agriculture, industry and households: Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977 and 1990, Local Government (Sanitary Services) Acts 1878-1964 and Local Government Planning and Development Acts 1963-1993. Government recognizes the importance of water as a social and economic good in meeting basic human needs and has implemented pricing policies that are geared toward cost recovery and equitable and efficient allocations of water, including the promotion of water conservation.

    A major national water Conservation Programme for water supply systems in the larger cities and towns is underway to address an identified problem with water leakage. In addition, public awareness campaigns are undertaken by the larger urban local authorities. While Ireland has abundant freshwater supplies, a major investment in water treatment and supply schemes (IR146 million in 1994-1996) augment the quality and availability of such supplies and further investment has been made in group schemes serving rural areas. Ireland's strong economic growth, however, is placing increased demands on, and for, water supply and waste water services. There are also competing demands on available resources from other sectors.

    National and local emergency policies specify the role of each agency in the event of disasters arising from floods or drought conditions. Plans are also in place to respond to incidents that could adversely effect the quality of water supplies and cause disruptions.

    In 1993, a survey, based on 1200 rivers, 172 lakes and important bays and estuaries, showed that 77.5% of the rivers (measured by length) were unpolluted; the rest were either "slightly polluted" (12%), "moderately polluted" (9.5%), or "seriously polluted" (1%). Several local projects have been launched to protect inland waters from pollution. These projects address many aspects, including farmyard pollution, improved monitoring of water quality, and introducing phosphate-free domestic detergents. The Environmental Policy Research Center is part of the National Economic and Social Research Institute which carried out research regarding the use of economic instruments, including waster water charges.

    The Government has decided that, in the absence of an effective metering system where the amount paid in domestic water charges directly relates to the amount of water used, domestic water and sewerage charges are more in the nature of a tax, and are, accordingly, consolidated into general taxation. Full cost recovery in respect of non-domestic water and sewerage charges (i.e., industrial/commercial/agricultural) can be linked to consumption through the use of meters. Local authorities have discretion in deciding whether or not to charge for the services they provide for non-domestic water users and the level of such charges. In practice, charges are made for all non-domestic uses of water. A contribution in respect to the capital cost of providing water to industry is usually applied.

    National standards for certain water quality parameter are set out under Irish legislation, based on EU directive requirements including those for List I (Directive 76/464/EEC and Daughter Directives), and the Directives on Bathing Waters, Freshwater Fish designations, Drinking Water, etc. A discussion document on Water Quality Criteria and Standards will shortly be published by the EPA.

    Ireland has the capacity to treat waste water, but not to recycle waste water. Urban sewerage is treated at different levels; 33% of arisings receive primary treatment, 18% of arisings receive secondary treatment and 2% of arisings receive phosphorus reduction in addition to secondary treatment. Water supply coverage targets over 95% of the population while sanitation coverage targets 95% of the population of which 68% are connected to the public sewage disposal scheme. Before usage, 83% of water is treated for drinking purposes. Ireland has a target of 90% by 2005.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects and publishes hydrometric data on a regular basis, including river flow data and reports on specific regions of interest to water resource managers. National reports on water quality in Ireland are produced by the EPA every 3 to 4 years based on data collected by the EPA, local authorities and fisheries bodies, while interim reports on individual rivers and lakes are published annually. The EPA also publishes an annual report on Ireland's drinking water quality, including public and private sources of drinking water.

    The EPA distributes this information through wide dissemination of its publications which are readily available to the general public and are supplied to the Department of the Environment and Local Government, local authorities, environmental NGOs and research bodies at national level and through the European Commission reporting requirements mechanism and the European Environmental Agency.

    Most of the data is available in electronic format using spreadsheets or databases and can be sent by e-mail to users. Information on the Internet is not currently provided. The EPA is constructing a World Wide Web site on some aspects of freshwater resources, particularly qualitative aspects.

    Ireland's national sustainable development strategy, published in 1997, recognizes the role of the private sector in the environmental area and promotes the integration of environmental considerations into all policy areas. Water management and supply are the responsibility of local (public) authorities. Capital investment is financed by central government with EU support, while operational and maintenance costs are met by local authorities. State grants are available for private wells and for private community initiatives to provide water supplies and ensure observance of quality standards.

    The financial commitments stated in the Environmental Action Programme were reaffirmed in the National Development Plan, 1990-1994. The total capital spending on water services was IR442 million. The Environment Action Programme committed a IR300 million investment until the year 2000 for the provision of new and improved public water supply. Under the Operational Programme 1994-1999, IR61 million is to be spent on drinking water, wastewater treatment, and group water schemes. A IR230 million sewage treatment programme involves the provision of full secondary treatment for inland towns discharging to rivers and lakes. The EU has been sponsoring the Operational Plan for Water, Sanitary and other Local Services with IR110.92 million.

    The flow of external resources into water resource management and development in 1996 was IR78 million, IR1.1 million for technical cooperation and IR76.9 million for grants. The ratio between domestic expenditures for water resource management and development and external funds is 36% and 64% respectively. The estimated percentage of ODA allocated for water resource management and development in 1996 was 4%.

    Water Quality Management Strategies for the Erne and Foyle catchments are currently being completed by the Department of the Environment and Local Government with the Environment and Heritage Service of the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland. These will form the basis of future co-operation on these watercourses under the terms of the UNECE Convention of the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes which Ireland will shortly accede to.

    The efficient allocation of water to promote economic development is implemented through a specific investment programme directed at supporting industrial and economic development. The projects provided receive assistance from the EU Cohesion Fund and Structural Fund under the 1994-1999 Operational Programme. The benefits of investment under the water services programme are universal.

    Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

    Please refer to Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations.

    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 and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1998.

    Click here for the Irish Environmental Protection Agency's National Freshwater Quality Database
    Click here for a report on Biological Assessment of Water Quality.
    Click here for Ireland's State of the Environment Report: Inland Waters.

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    LAND MANAGEMENT

    Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

    No information is available.

    Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

    Please refer to Status.

    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 

    A system of land-use management, in line with that envisaged in Agenda 21, has been in operation in Ireland since 1964. Under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Acts, 1963 to 1993, each of Ireland's 88 planning authorities has been obliged to prepare, at least every five years, a Development Plan. The Government is committed to drawing up guidelines for both National policy-makers and planning authorities regarding the location of agricultural, industrial, forestry, aquaculture, and tourism developments. The Government is also preparing a series of guidelines on land use issues for local planning authorities and An Board Pleanala (Planning Appeals Board). Guidelines on Telecommunications Antennae and Support Structures were published on 31 July 1996, and Guidelines on Wind Farm Development were published on 19 September 1996. Guidelines on Forestry Development, high amenity landscapes, and the scope and content of development plans are now being prepared. Taken together, the National Sustainable Development Strategy and the guidelines will provide a comprehensive policy framework for land use planning.

    Legislation with respect to land use planning is supplemented by administrative and policy measures at the National level. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures have been incorporated into the planning system and are also applied to public development proposals. The National Department of the Environment issues circulars and guidelines to local land planning authorities to advise and inform them of issues to be taken into consideration in the operation of the planning process. The Department also monitors the overall operation of the planning process.

    Decisions by local authorities may be appealed to the independent National Planning Appeals Board by any individual or organization. The Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) which provides special grants for farming in an environmentally friendly way is available to landowners in all parts of the country. Additional payments are available in certain designated areas in order to solve specific environmental problems, to protect important habitat sites, and to give farmers the opportunity to respond to market demands for the supply of organic food and the provision of tourism/leisure facilities. Local authorities are taken into account by the National Department of the Environment on issues related to the operation of the planning process.

    Ireland is represented on the European Union Committee on Spatial Development and on the informal Council of Ministers for Regional and Spatial Development. Ireland is also a member of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning under the Council of Europe. The EIA of Ireland's land planning takes full account of relevant EU directives.

    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 session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

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    MOUNTAINS

    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 

    Soil erosion as a result of overgrazing is a significant problem in the mountain and highland areas of Ireland as the number of mountain sheep has increased. In 1992, with the agricultural policy reform, the number of sheep in Ireland has been tied to a quota which should prevent any further increase. A change was made to the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) in October 1995 to make it more attractive and feasible for upland farmers in designated "degraded" upland areas to reduce or maintain sheep numbers at sustainable levels. This measure is mandatory for REPS participants in mountain and highland areas.

    A time limit condition was introduced into the National administration of the Ewe Premium Scheme in 1994. Flock-owners who graze sheep on degraded common land and are not participating in REPS, but who wished to acquire additional quota rights, give an undertaking not to graze their additional ewes on the "degraded areas" between 1 November and 30 April each year. Flock-owners who do not comply with this requirement lose entitlement to Ewe Premium and Rural World Premium for the year in question and the following year. European Union (EU) Council Regulation 3013/89 (Article 5a) provides for the prohibition of leasing and transfer of sheep quota rights from the 1994 marketing year between disadvantaged areas and non-disadvantaged areas in Ireland.

    A committee consisting of representatives of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, REPS planners and farming organizations has recently devised a set of rules for the application of REPS in proposed Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs). In addition, large areas of proposed NHAs are to be further designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under EU Wildlife Legislation, which will ensure that sustainable farming is maintained in these areas.

    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 session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

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    OCEANS AND COASTAL AREAS

    Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

    The Department of Arts, Heritage, Gealtacht and the Islands is responsible for the conservation of species and habitats. The Department of the Environment and Local Government is responsible for dealing with pollution from land-based sources and also for Coasal Zone Management. The Department of the Marine and Natural Resources is responsible for marine matters generally, including marine environment protection.

    The Green Networkof Government Departments is a high level group of officials intended to promote the integration of environmentalpolicies into Government policies and programmes generally, and to improve coordination across Government Depatments in relation to environmental matters. The establishment of separate coordinating structures on Coastal Zone Management (CZM) are under consideration. A number of State Agencies have responsibilities in relation to Oceans andSeas issues, including the Marine Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Environmental legislation in Ireland almost invariably provides for extensive participation by any interested person in relation to the development of plans, decisions on specific applications, access to courts, etc. A new body (Combar -- the National Sustainable Development Forum) was established in 1999 to provide a national consultative mechanism and structured dialogue on issues surrounding the pursuit of sustainble development.

    The document, Sustainable Development: A Strategy for Ireland (1997) identifies marine resources as a strategic section and contains a separate chapter on the sustainable use of marine resources. A draft policy document on CZM was published for further consultation and discussion. National policy is being developed.

    Marine policy is generally addressed in, Making the Most of Ireland's Marine and Natural Resources, (1998). RTDI issues are addressed in, A Marine Research, Technology, Development and Innovation Strategy for Ireland (1998).

    The following major programmes are in effect:

    Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

    The Local Government (Planning and Development) Acts provide for the planning and control of physical development in all areas, including coastal areas. In addition, the following legislation applies to the area of oceans and seas:

    Other policy instruments include the following:

    Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

    Please refer to Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations

    Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

    No information is available.

    Programmes and Projects

    No information is available. 

    Status 

    Fifty-two percent of the population, or 1.8 million people, live within ten km of the coast. The five largest urban conurbations are located along the coastline. There are 130 fishing ports (and more than 900 landing places) and 10 major shipping ports. Coastal areas are also used for tourism and recreation.

    Consistent with the EU Common Fisheries Policy, Ireland's National Fisheries Policy designates special protection status for specified areas, species and habitats.

    Major projects and activities underway or planned or address oceans issues include the following:

    The Marine Institute has recently completed an environmental assessment of Ireland's marine and coastal areas and adjacent seas. The report has been prepared as part of Ireland's contribution to the production by the OSPAR Commission on an environmental Quality Status Report (QSR) of the North-East Atlantic in the year 2000. The Irish report is the most comprehensive assessment of Ireland's marine environment prepared to date. The report provides:

    The Irish report is due to be published in the first half of 1999.

    Challenges

    Constraints include the need to establish the relative priorities of competing alternative uses, e.g., tourism, conservation of habitats and species, the difficulties of dealing with pollution from sources outside national jurisdiction and availability of resources.

    Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

    The publication of a draft national CZM policy document for comment in 1997 was followed by a public consultation seminar on CZM in 1998. The Marine Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency produce a range of publications related tooceans and seas issues generally.

    Training courses for public authorities and private sector agencies are provided by the Marine Institute, the Institute of Public Administration and other bodies, e.g., the Institute of Engineers of Ireland, universitiess and other third-level institutions. CZM demonstrations are organisedunder an EU funded programme.

    In an effort to raise awareness of issues related to oceans and seas, the Marine Institute regularly organises conferences on marine matters, including, in 1998, the Year of the Ocean Conference. The Environmental Information Service, ENFO, provides a range of services to facilitate public access to information on the environment (e.g., information leaflets) and present exhibitions on environmental topics (including an exhibition on the Oceans and Seas in 1998). [Note: ENFO is a service of the Department of the Environment and Local Government.]

    Information

    Ireland's "Marine and Coastal Areas and Adjacent Seas: an Environmental Assessment" (forthcoming) will inform both decision-makers and planners working in coastal areas, related to the following areas and dealing with issues such as the sustainable management of fishery resoures, marine pollution, mineral resources, living resources (other than fish) and critical uncertainties.

    Monitoring of the implementation of relevant laws and regulations is carried out by the Government Departments concerned, local authorities, the Marine Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Research and Technologies  

    The Marine Institute recently launched, A Marine Research, Technology, Development and Innovation Strategy for Ireland. This Strategy includes a section devoted to the marine environment and identifies the following aspects of special relevance to a marine environment RTDI strategy:

    Financing

    In general, activitiy in this sector is funded by the Exchequer. The Waste Water Services Capital Investment Programme is financed from the Exchequer with significant support from EU Structural Funds.

    Cooperation

    In Ireland, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was signed in 1982 and ratified in 1996. In January 1995, Ireland ratified the MARPOL International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Ireland participates in the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-east Atlantic.

    Ireland recognises that action at the international level is an essential element of any strategy for sustainable development and the protection of the marine environment and, to that end, participates fully in the activities of relevant United Nations organisations, including UNCLOS, CSD and IMO. At a regional level, membership in the European Union and the OSPAR Commission are significant influences. There is also close bilateral cooperation with the UK in relation to the Irish Sea.

     

    * * *

     

    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.

    Click here to access Ireland's Marine Institute.

    Click here to access Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency.

    To access the Web Site of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, click here:

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    TOXIC CHEMICALS

    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 

    Ireland is committed to the key programme areas of toxic chemical management under Agenda 21. It is involved in the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) which seeks to advance environmentally sound management of toxic chemicals. The National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health is the competent body for implementing European Union (EU) legislation related to risk assessment, and the classification and labelling of dangerous chemicals other than for pesticides and biocides, for which the Pesticide Control Service of the Department of Agriculture is the competent body. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for integrated pollution control licensing. Participation by Irish industry, which is fully committed to toxic management, is essential to achieve the objectives of Agenda 21 in this area.

    Ireland participates in the EU/Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) work on chemical risk assessment, and is currently drafting a risk assessment procedure for priority chemicals within this programme. Ireland is committed to the advancement of global harmonization of toxic chemical classification, and participates in EU/OECD/IFCS discussions on this topic. Ireland is already part of the harmonized EU system for classification and labelling of dangerous chemicals.

    Ireland participates in an information exchange network on the import and export of certain dangerous chemicals under EU legislation, and is committed to the impending Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. Ireland is also committed to any global risk reduction activities within the framework of IFCS/OECD, including those on lead and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The country has implemented risk reduction measures for a number of dangerous chemicals at the EU level under the EU Marketing and Use Directive (76/769/EEC). On 16 May 1994, Ireland launched the integrated pollution control licensing of activities which pose a high risk of pollution. The activities include managing materials such as minerals, energy, mineral fibres, glass, chemicals, food, drink, wood, paper, textiles, leather, and cement.

    In compliance with EU legislation set out for this sector, Ireland has developed the capacity for responding to emergencies, to rehabilitate contaminated sites and poisoned persons, and has established systems for notification of new chemicals, and information gathering and dissemination.

    Ireland participates fully in all EU work related to management of toxic chemicals, and participates in the OECD and IFCS fora as resources permit.

    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 session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

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    WASTE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

    Solid Waste and Sanitation

    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 recently enacted the Waste Management Act which, inter alia, introduces comprehensive measures for the management of solid wastes in Ireland. Local authorities are empowered under General Government legislation to collect household waste and provide waste disposal facilities.

    In 1995, a new National Waste Database was constructed and a report detailing waste and the infrastructure for disposal and recovery was published. National waste amounts for 1995 were estimated to be 42,260,757 tonnes with 31,000,000 tonnes of agricultural origin. Of the remaining 11,260,757 tons, municipal waste (including recycled materials): totalled 1,848,232 tons (16.4%); other wastes collected by or on behalf of local authorities 953,189 tons (8.5%); non-hazardous industrial waste 7,410,982 tons (65.8%); hazardous industrial waste 243,754 tons (2.2%); healthcare wastes 20,000 tons (0.2%); and dredge spoils 784,600 tons (7.0%).

    Industrial waste was categorized using the European Waste Catalogue and Hazardous Waste List, along with the NACE statistical classification system for economic activities. A set of indicators for both municipal and industrial wastes were developed from the data which can be used to track trends in waste, as well as recovery and disposal practices for both waste streams.

    In 1995, Ireland had 118 municipal waste landfills receiving approximately 2.2 million tonnes of waste per annum. The majority of these sites are relatively small with 58% accepting less than 15,000 tonnes per annum and only 7 landfills receiving in excess of 50,000 tonnes per annum. In 1994, the Government set targets for increased recycling of packaging materials in compliance with targets set by the European Union (EU). Municipal waste recovery infrastructure is improving with 6 recycling schemes, 28 civic amenity sites, and over 400 bring banks reported for 1995.

    Between 1989 and 1993, IR1.6 million was allocated to a demonstration project and programmes for municipal waste recycling. Among other benefits, this has created an increase in public awareness and participation.

    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 session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    Hazardous Waste

    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 

    Ireland's policy is, first, to try to avoid creating waste; second, to minimize waste; and, third, where necessary, to recycle or safely dispose of waste. In 1995, the Operational Programme included improvement of the waste management system as a priority. At the same time, Ireland drafted a new Waste Bill, enacted in 1996 as the Waste Management Act, which is meant to bring consistency between international and National waste management. Under the new Act, it is suggested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the licensing of all significant waste disposal activities, including local authority landfills, and for planning, management, and control of hazardous waste. The Ministry of the Environment retains power over policy direction and makes regulations to promote waste prevention.

    In 1995, hazardous waste amounts in Ireland were estimated to be 243,754 tonnes. The recovery rate for hazardous waste was estimated to be 42.5%. Over 90% of reported hazardous waste is treated in Ireland. Incineration of hazardous wastes and hospital waste requires an Integrated Pollution Control license under the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992. The Waste Management Act requires that a National Hazardous Waste Management Plan be prepared by the EPA.

    The private sector has been encouraged to promote the capacity for the prevention, reduction, and safe management of hazardous waste. In 1992, for example, a Discussion Document was published bringing together the thoughts and ideas from interested parties for the new Waste Bill. Investment of some 30.5 million will be undertaken in the period 1995-1999 to develop waste management strategies at local and regional levels, improve recycling infrastructure, and support the provision of appropriate hazardous waste management.

    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

    In Ireland, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was ratified in 1994.

     

    * * *

     

    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.

    For direct link to the Web Site of the Basel Convention, click here:

    Radioactive Waste

    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 storage and disposal of all radioactive waste in Ireland is controlled by the Radiological Protection Act, 1991. The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland handles the licensing that is mandated by the Act. In 1994, all imported sealed radioactive sources were to be sent back to the original supplier at the end of their useful time period.

    In 1994, the Radiological Protection Institute recommended establishing a centralized waste management facility for low level radioactive waste.

    In 1993, Ireland supported the ban on dumping of low and intermediate level radioactive waste at sea, which was adopted at the Consultative Meeting of the London Convention.

    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 session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.


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