Experts believe the value of the global environmental goods and services sector will top $800 billion by 2015.

In the run up to last week’s (23 and 24 September) Environment Ireland 2009 conference in Dublin, Dr Mary Kelly, director general of Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), called for a greener Irish economy.

She said: “Ireland must build a smart, green and resilient economy to create new jobs and technologies, overcome energy security constraints and be sustainable, both economically and environmentally.

“Fundamental changes will be required to ensure that economic recovery, when it comes, is low carbon and sustainable.

“There are also significant economic opportunities for Ireland in becoming a low-carbon and greener economy.”

A study by Forfás, Ireland’s national policy advisory body for enterprise and science, and business development body InterTradeIreland published last October estimates the value of the environmental goods and services sector worldwide will top $700n by 2010 and $800 bn by 2015.

The Irish government’s economic framework, Building Ireland’s Smart Economy, recognises the country stands to benefit from jobs and wealth created through the development of a green economy.

“Despite being in an economic downturn we must keep investing in Ireland’s environment if we are to maintain and improve this resource for current and future generations,” said Dr Kelly.

The gathering at Croke Park Conference Centre was the fifth annual Environment Ireland conference – the country’s largest conference on environmental policy and management.

The three main themes were Adapting to a Changing Climate, Investing in Ireland’s Environmental Infrastructure and Towards a Smart Green Economy: Prioritising the Environment in Difficult Economic Times.

A mix of national and international conference speakers included Dr Kelly, environment minister John Gormley, Lars Westermark of the Swedish EPA and Michael Stahl of the US EPA.

For more details about the conference go to the website.

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