The world is faced with multiple and escalating environmental crises. Six of nine identified planetary boundaries, which define a safe operating space for humanity, have already been breached. While hard-fought incremental improvements in environmental policies achieved over the decades, in Ireland often driven by EU legislation, have slowed down and in some cases reversed decline in specific areas, overall these have not kept pace with the scale of the environmental threats now facing humanity.
To make the transition to sustainability, we need to fundamentally change the way we do things: feed, clothe and house ourselves, make stuff, move around, and more.
Jeremy Wates served as Secretary General of the Brussels-based European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations, from 2011 to 2022. Before that he served for more than a decade as Secretary to the Aarhus Convention with the Geneva-based United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, having previously led the NGO campaign for such a treaty and coordinated the NGO input into the negotiations. In the 1980s and early 1990s, he was the Coordinator of Earthwatch, the Bantry-based Irish member of Friends of the Earth International. After spending a couple of decades abroad advocating for better environmental policies at European level, he is once again back at his home in West Cork where he tries to spend more time with his hands in the soil than tapping away on a laptop.