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Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots has launched his Department’s Plan to 2050, which sets out the long term vision to ensure Northern Ireland has a healthy environment, healthy economy and healthy population.

‘Sustainability for Our Future - DAERA’s Plan to 2050’, outlines how the Department intends to protect and enhance the environment, support our rural communities, encourage growth and diversity in the agri-food sector, improve the health of people living here and ensure that sustainability is the common thread woven between them.

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots said: “We in Northern Ireland, like all nations, face challenges such as climate change, improving the health and wellbeing of the people who live here and encouraging our economy to grow, and in particular, to recover after Covid. These issues cannot be fixed in the short term or in isolation, they require long term planning, underpinned by the most up to date science and evidence, and that will only be achieved by working together across all sectors.

“The Plan to 2050 lights the path towards achieving those goals and gives us a direction of travel. It commits us to the competitive development of the agri-food, fishing and forestry sectors of our economy, having regard for the need of the consumers, the welfare of animals and the conservation and enhancement of the environment.

“I want sustainability to be at the heart of everything we do, taking a partnership approach with business and communities, supporting them to look after the environment and to be its custodian for future generations. This sustainable approach creates a healthy environment to live in and will support a healthy population and stimulate healthy economic rural communities.”

The DAERA Plan to 2050 outlines four key strategic priorities, Economic growth, Natural Environment, Rural Communities and Exemplar Organisation. These are underpinned by ten goals and six principles in how we act and deliver.

Speaking about the work already underway, the Minister said: “Under my leadership, my Department has already accelerated a number of key programmes of work such as Forests for our Future, Green Growth, the Science Strategy Framework and draft Climate Change Bill policy proposals. We’ve invested heavily in our Rural Development Programmes, securing over £20m to support our rural communities – more than any other year.

“We’ve also launched significant discussions or consultations such as the clean air strategy, innovation strategy and waste management for example. We must do more of this work.

“To help achieve this multi decade plan, my officials will now produce five-year strategies, with greater detail on key outcomes and measures for the medium term.

“I want my Department to use this Plan to 2050 as a roadmap to strengthen and enhance the protections our countryside, rivers, coastline and wildlife habitats enjoy, and develop new methods of agricultural, forestry and fisheries support which put our communities first. We are the custodians of our land for the next generation. By implementing the measures in this ambitious plan, ours can become the first generation to leave that environment in a better state than we found it and pass on to the next generation a natural environment protected and enhanced for the future.”