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Head of SDC Northern Ireland highlights the need for patience

19 July 2007

At the recent inaugural Northern Ireland Environment Forum, the Head of SDC in Northern Ireland, Jim Kitchen, told the 300 strong audience of Northern Irish opinion leaders to have patience whilst working through sustainable solutions to climate change.

Speaking alongside a specialist panel that included the new Minister of Environment Arlene Foster and Professor of Environmental Law at University College London, Richard Macrory, Mr Kitchen expressed the importance of sustainable development’s role in tackling climate change.

He said: “Although sustainable development can seem a bit abstract, the effects of climate change are very real indeed. It is only through sustainable development that we will find the means of minimising the worst effects of climate change and the other implications of living beyond the earth’s environmental limits.”

He stated: “It took fourteen years from the scientific discovery in 1973 until the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 to start the process of healing the wound that was the ozone hole. And it has worked. The ozone layer is slowly recovering. The same prospects exist for tackling climate change through sustainable development. I don’t think we should get too pessimistic because action doesn’t happen immediately. Things like this can (and do) take time to become accepted.”

He continued: “But patience mustn’t be allowed to become complacency. In Northern Ireland we’ve made a start. We’ve got a strategy, we’ve got our first Implementation Plan and a second one on the way. The second implementation plan will seek to generate a wider engagement with other sectors, seeing leadership go beyond the usual rhetoric of sustainable development and translated into well thought out action.”

He concluded: “In the last five years, attitudes have changed and are continuing to change. Climate change has probably been the catalyst for that change in attitudes. Although the move along the path towards sustainability is a slow one, with strong leadership, determination and patience it will be a successful one.

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