Last Monday 18th of October saw the Launch of Bioeconomy Ireland Week 2021.
The online launch event, run by the National Bioeconomy Policy Implementation Group and hosted by Helen Carroll, had over 70 in attendance, and a whole range of interesting speakers.
The launch was opened by Martin Heydon TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety and New Market Development, Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, and Ossian Smyth TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and powerful statements were made by both ministers.
Minister Heydon spoke first, opening his speech recognising the importance of the Irish bioeconomy and the agrifood sector, stating that Ireland has “huge potential to establish carbon neutral farms” and noting that the agrifood sector must be embedded in the Irish circular bioeconomy. He finished his speech with his vision for the future of a new green business model, based on climate benefits that nature-based products provide.
Minister Smyth spoke next, remarking on the change in the name of his department from ‘waste’ to ‘circular economy’. In a circular economy, waste is a resource and “I think [the change] in itself represents a change in mindset about the way our economy should work.”. Minister Smyth talked about the need for big strategic changes away from fossil fuels – while they were useful once and people shouldn’t be demonised for having used them, “their time is now over”. The time is coming to measure prosperity in different ways, ends Smyth, no longer in terms of money but instead, in how well we are.
The speakers following on from the ministers were Helena McMahon from Munster Technological University discussing the BIOBEC EU funded project and Billy Goodburn from the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society talking about the Fields Erasmus + project.
After this there was an engaging panel discussion with Shauna Dunlop (SOLAS), Vivienne Patterson (Higher Education Authority), Mark Jordan (SkillNet Ireland), Frank Murphy, (Teagasc Education), Mariana Cerca, (AgRefine Marie Curie Project), and Henry Lyons (NutraMara) and a workshop where participants were asked to provide their views of the current education, training & skills opportunities for the bioeconomy.
It was a great launch and a great start to a hugely successful Bioeconomy Ireland Week!