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The British-Irish Council’s (BIC) eight member administrations hosts some of the most stunning and diverse natural landscapes and habitats anywhere in the world. However, with the ongoing impacts of climate change, protecting our wild and marine life is a shared challenge and priority across these islands. Given the scale of these challenges, the Environment Work Sector has focussed on several wide-ranging areas, including the marine environment, marine litter, climate adaptation and invasive alien species.

Lead Administration

The Environment work sector was established at the first British-Irish Council Summit in 1999 to share environmental expertise and learning across the eight BIC administrations. This has proven to be a constructive and unique forum for facilitating evidence exchange and practical collaboration since the Council was first established.

The Environment work sector and its subgroups are overseen by the UK Government.

The structure of the work sector has evolved to differ notably from every other work sector in BIC as it operates through sub-groups. The work sector’s current focus and sub-groups are:

  • Invasive Non-Native Species (UK Government lead),
  • Climate Adaptation (Government of Ireland lead),
  • Marine Environment (UK Government lead),
  • Marine Litter (Scottish Government and UK Government lead); and
  • Asian Hornet Taskforce (UK Government lead).

Current Focus

At the last Ministerial meeting of the BIC Environment work sector, held virtually in November 2020, Ministers agreed key areas of focus to be taken forward by the sub-groups. The Invasive Non-Native Species, the Asian Hornet Taskforce and the Climate Adaptation groups have been particularly active over the last 12 months. In September 2023, the Welsh Government hosted the Climate Adaptation sub-group to a visit to Caernarfon to learn about the CHERISH (Climate, Heritage and Environments of Reeds, Islands, and Headlands) programme, which aims to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change, storminess and extreme weather on the cultural heritage of our seas and coasts.