Efficient use of resources not only protects our environment but also brings economic benefits for our businesses.
That was the key message from Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen as she addressed businesses and environmental groups from across Northern Ireland at the launch of the Environmental Benchmarking Survey Report in Belfast.
Speaking at the event in the Harbour Commissioner’s Office, Miss McIlveen said: “It is encouraging to see leading business and agri-food companies here, and a wide variety of environmental stakeholders.
“It is also reassuring to see the increasing awareness of the benefits of improving resource efficiency. Not only does improving resource efficiency benefit the environment but it also increases your competitiveness and improves your bottom line. ”
The Environmental Benchmarking Survey, which is compiled by Business in the Community (BITC), promotes sound environmental management across both private and public sectors. Sponsored by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), the survey has been running for 18 years and aims to encourage organisations to embrace resource efficiency and see the advantages of innovation in their environmental management.
The Minister went on to say: “Most of you are aware of the positive impacts to reputations, from measuring success against your peers, and with your stakeholders. Through the collation of Northern Ireland business’s environmental performance in this survey, together, we can open up a myriad of opportunities. By participating in this survey you are helping the wider business community to identify further opportunities for improved efficiencies. That is why I believe it is so important to recognise and reward our current pioneers in excellence and innovation, in our use, and indeed re-use of resources.”
The Minister said that the formation of DAERA brought agriculture and environment together for the first time, providing substantial opportunities for closer co-operation and greater synergy.
She added: “I am mindful of these synergies. What builds our sustainability also increases our efficiency and competitiveness, right across the board – when we collaborate. Farmers are custodians of our countryside, and whilst their participation will be of crucial importance – none of our sectors operate in isolation.
“For example, the new Sustainable Agricultural Land Management Strategy demonstrates the kind of cooperative working which I believe we need more of. This is a genuine partnership between Government, the food chain and the farming and environmental sectors, all working together for the benefit of the wider economy and environment.
“We are all connected, we all depend upon the environment, and we can all benefit from helping to protect and nurture its resources,” the Minister concluded.