An Introduction to Cork Environmental Forum…
Inspired by the Rio Earth Conference in 1992, Cork Environmental Forum (CEF) came into being in 1995. It was supported by Cork County Council as an instrument for applying the principles of Local Agenda 21/ now Local Agenda 2030 (otherwise known as the Sustainable Development Goals) as agreed by the United Nations Global Conference on Environment and Development. CEF’s initial brief was to bring various stakeholders together at a local level throughout Cork City and County, who would not ordinarily have occasion to meet to discuss local sustainability and environmental issues and agree on an appropriate action plan. Its primary purpose remains to foster, promote and implement sustainable development at a local level in the Cork region.
CEF sets an example for the delivery of Local Agenda 2030 and the SDGs through log-term implementation of the LA21 process which recognises that all sectors share responsibility for the environment and opportunities must be developed for them to work in cooperation and agreement and that sustainable development can only be achieved by partnership ‘of all stakeholders, sharing ideas, information and resources, consultation and joint action.
CEF’s own structure and representation (at both membership and executive level) of the four pillars of society – Business & Commercial, Public Sector, Community & Voluntary and Individuals lends to collaboration and a way of working in partnership with all stakeholders. CEF is both an insider – influencing by sitting on local and national boards and committees and an outsider – tapping into local people’s power and knowledge and influencing people’s behaviour.
 Agenda 2030, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals, was a set of goals decided on at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015. It takes all of the goals set by Agenda 21 and re-asserts them as the basis for sustainable development, saying, “We reaffirm all the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development…” Adding onto those goals from the original Rio document, a total of 17 goals have been agreed on, revolving around the same concepts of Agenda 21; people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership.
Cork Environmental Forum’s vision is for a sustainable world which prioritises environmental quality, protects and restores habitats and biodiversity, where consumption and economics take cognisance of the limitations of our one planet and where there is a fairer and more equitable share of the earth’s resources.
Raising awareness, providing information and opportunities to engage in activities that support the achievement of Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (2015) is a key feature of our work and is particularly relevant in the delivery of the Global Action Plan Greener Living Programme.
Participation, awareness and education about sustainable development and how communities can be part of the process are on-going elements of all of CEF activities and actions. We strive to bring an environmental perspective to policy and do this through submissions and representation e.g. on the Public Participation Networks, Strategic Policy Committee and other local and national fora.
Working for a better environment for all
CEF works from a Local Agenda 21/ Agenda 2030 ethos fundamental to this is to facilitate the involvement of all sectors of society. We reflect this in our structure by having representation at management and membership levels from the Public, Private, Community & Voluntary and Individual Sectors.
We work in collaboration with a broad range of partners, valuing connections and relationships, in order to engage more people and communities and all sectors to work with us to protect and care for our environment.
Our approach is to empower participants in our activities through providing an appropriate level of information and opportunities to work with and meet others to build understanding of the difficulties our environment faces and to implement positive actions to address these at a local level.
Informed and Continually Learning
CEF sees the bigger picture through research, representation and links locally, nationally and globally, and attendance, and participation in relevant training, conferences and seminars. This informs our work on the UN Sustainable Development Goals/ Local Agenda 2030.
We instigate these values by our positive can-do attitude, by being solution-orientated and by working both top down & bottom up to link policy, action and behavioural change.
The CEF Strategic Goals are:
- To raise awareness regarding the environment
- To facilitate action and behaviour change
- To bring an environmental perspective to policy
- To develop the capacity of CEF
- To instigate relevant projects that deliver solutions to environmental and cross- cutting challenges e.g. Boomerang Enterprises
Original Directors of CEF
- Terry O’Regan, Ballincollig, Co. Cork. (representing Landscape Alliance Ireland)
- Thomas Dunne, Kilworth, Co. Cork (representing IFA, Cork) Honorary Secretary
- Eva O’Connell, Rochestown, Co. Cork (representing Rochestown Tidy District Association Ltd.)
- Anthony Cohu, Bantry, Co. Cork (representing Landscape Alliance Ireland)
- Graham Pickering, Schull, Co. Cork (Independent representative)
- Charles Hennessy (RIP) , Monkstwon, Co. Cork (representing Monkstown Amenity Association)
- Gerard Mullally, Ballincollig, Co. Cork (representing University College Cork)
- Joan Gayer, Mallow, Co. Cork (representing IRD Duhallow)
Thanks to their vision, commitment and hard work they established a solid foundation for Cork Environmental Forum whose purpose is as relevant today as it was then.
Local Agenda 21 (an agenda for the 21st Century) was an important agreement reached at the United Nations Global Conference on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro in1992. This milestone agreement acknowledged that environmental care is most effective at a local level and that individuals and communities must be supported in caring for the environment. It recognised that all sectors share responsibility for the environment and opportunities must be developed for them to work in co-operation and agreement and that this can be achieved by partnership of all stake holders, sharing ideas, information and resources, consultation and joint action. The principles of Local Agenda 21 are recognised by the Irish Government in environmental policy making.
Local Action 21 has evolved from Local Agenda 21. It was agreed and signed up to the Johannesburg World Summit in 2002, where over 500 representatives of Local Authorities from all over the World formally adopted this programme for implementation of sustainable development.
This website carries further information about CEF meetings, events and copies of the position papers.
“We need not only a better view of man and nature, but a working method by which the least of us can ensure that the product of his works is not more despoliation”
Ian L. McHarg ‘Design with Nature’ (1971)