The Citizens' Assembly on Biodiversity Loss has voted overwhelmingly to recommend that there should be a constitutional referendum to amend the Constitution with a view to protecting biodiversity.
The assembly concluded that the State has comprehensively failed to adequately fund, implement and enforce existing national legislation, national policies, EU biodiversity-related laws and directives related to biodiversity. It said this must change.
The 99 members of the assembly have also voted for the ambition of the State to be significantly increased to reflect the scale of Ireland's biodiversity crisis.
It said adequate funding must be made available to address this crisis.
This is likely to require substantial and sustained increases in expenditure, which the Citizens' Assembly said should be made available immediately and guaranteed in the long term.
83% of the members of the assembly voted in favour of a constitutional referendum to install the protection of biodiversity and nature into the Irish Constitution.
The vast majority of the assembly members also voted very specifically that the proposal to amend the Constitution to protect biodiversity should include substantive and procedural environmental rights for both people and for nature.
For people, such an amendment if passed in a referendum, would for example, confer a constitutional right to a clean, healthy, safe environment; a right to a stable and healthy climate; rights of future generations to these or other environmental rights.
It would also confer rights regarding access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making and justice in environmental matters.
For nature, the proposed constitutional change would recognise nature as a holder of legal rights, comparable to companies or people.
This might include the right for nature to exist, to flourish and perpetuate, and the right to restoration if degraded. It would also give nature the right not to be polluted or harmed or degraded.
In addition the procedural rights it would confer on nature would include the right of nature to be a party in administrative decision-making, litigation and other situations where rights of nature are impacted or likely to be impacted.
Yesterday, world-renowned primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall, best known for her 60-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania, became the last of 80 individual speakers to address the Citizens' Assembly.
In her keynote address, Dr Goodall said that humans are part of, rather than separate from, the rest of the natural world.
"We depend on the natural world for everything including food, water, and air. What we are dependent on is healthy ecosystems. Everything is interconnected," she said.