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Political Leaders Have Key Role in Promoting Sustainable Future

25 March 2010

Jim Kitchen

Head of the Sustainable Development Commission in Northern Ireland, Jim Kitchen, addressed an invited audience at the University of Ulster Jordanstown on the opportunities available to our political leaders by delivering a positive message of a sustainable future to people in Northern Ireland.

Head of the Sustainable Development Commission in Northern Ireland, Jim Kitchen, addressed an invited audience at the University of Ulster Jordanstown on the opportunities available to our political leaders by delivering a positive message of a sustainable future to people in Northern Ireland.  Mr Kitchen stated: 

“The transition to a more sustainable lifestyle in Northern Ireland needs to be complemented by the transition to a sustainable mindset and outlook.  Mapping out why we should take the steps required to build a safe, stable, and successful Northern Ireland is just as important as designing those steps in the first place.  That takes a real commitment, but a commitment which can produce real results. 

“Advocates for sustainable development in Northern Ireland need to focus on the positive gains that can be achieved from the transition to a sustainable lifestyle.  We need to paint a picture of the future that is better, not worse, and that no one loses out from taking part.  A sustainable future is a healthier future, a future with better employment opportunities, a future with a cleaner and cheaper transport system, a future with real social equality, and a future in which no child is left behind educationally or through lack of opportunity.

 “A sustainable future is also the future which our political leaders can do more to promote - the building of strong, cohesive and resilient local communities, the promotion of innovative local businesses, the protection of our cultural heritage, and the development of truly shared spaces and services.  These are not just key aspects of a sustainable future; they are also issues at the front and centre of much of our political discourse in Northern Ireland.   

“Our elected representatives have the opportunity now to join up the dots, to outline the vision that will inspire and empower communities, families, and individuals on the ground.  To realise that sustainable development can be a uniting principle, that sustainable development can be the cornerstone in the creation of a stronger, healthier, and more just society in Northern Ireland.  Indeed our political leaders can grasp a real opportunity here – embracing sustainable development fully could be Northern Ireland’s next big economic and social catalyst. 

“Much good work is underway within government in Northern Ireland.  Government officials across departments are working to implement the commitments made by the Executive in the Programme for Government.  Progress on the new Executive Sustainable Development Strategy continues, and the process to appoint Northern Ireland’s new Sustainable Development Commissioner is well underway.  These are encouraging signs.  With a strong strategy and committed commissioner, the structures will be in place to deliver change on the ground.  The structures however, are only part of the overall solution.  Political commitment is the other major component.  It is there among the officials with whom the Commission works.  We hope that our elected representatives will follow suit.”

 

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