For Ireland, development and climate objectives are already strongly interwoven, as illustrated in its national policy for international development, A Better World. Ireland continues to work to improve this alignment.  

In accordance with a commitment in the current Programme for Government, a dedicated Climate Unit was established within Irish Aid in October 2020. This outlook is further reflected in broader commitments of the Programme for Government, which states that climate action will be a core pillar of every departmental strategy and that every department will adopt a climate mandate. A Better World commits the Government to “climate proofing” all of its development expenditures, and a process is underway in this regard that will strengthen tools for use across the development co-operation programming. 

In 2015, Ireland set a Programme for Government commitment to provide a total of EUR 175 million in climate finance between 2016 and 2020. Ireland has since updated this target to, at a minimum, double the overall percentage of their development assistance that counts as climate finance. The ongoing development of a Climate Finance Strategy and Roadmap aims to: scale up Ireland’s international climate finance contributions in the coming years; strengthen co-ordination across government departments in delivering on its international financial contributions; and enhance Ireland’s role as donor and partner, particularly with regard to focusing on support to climate adaptation.   

Ireland tracks its progress on support to climate action in development co-operation through a number of interlinked processes, including its annual Creditor Reporting System (CRS) return to the OECD, its annual climate finance submission to the European Commission, and its reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). More specifically, based on these processes, the Department of Foreign Affairs produces an annual report on climate finance each year that covers contributions from all relevant government departments to environment and climate action in the context of development co-operation.  

In addition, Ireland’s Interim Climate Actions 2021 presents a number of actions, including climate advocacy at EU and international levels, extension of climate resourcing and capacity across their embassy networks, and continued assistance to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Ireland tracks its progress against its Interim Climate Actions 2021 through quarterly reporting of progress against each action, submitted to the Department of the Taoiseach (head of government). 

Climate action is one of four key priorities set out in Ireland’s current policy for international development, A Better World. Ireland seeks to influence and support the growth pathways of developing countries to establish low-carbon, resilient futures. For example, Mission and Unit budgets in the Department of Foreign Affairs are systematically screened against climate action alongside Ireland’s three other key international development priorities. 

In identifying climate action as a key priority in its A Better World strategy, Ireland recognises that the impacts of climate change threaten to undermine all efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to fuel humanitarian need.  

Of particular relevance is a commitment to, at a minimum, doubling the overall percentage of Ireland’s development assistance that counts as climate finance. The Department of Foreign Affairs has engaged a consultant to support the development of a Climate Finance Strategy and Roadmap by which to achieve this target. The expected timeline for the completion of this work is the first half of 2022. 

Finally, in line with a commitment in A Better World, in the coming months the Climate Unit will establish a methodology for strengthening the climate-proofing of all of Ireland’s official development assistance (ODA).  

At present, Irish Aid’s Partnership with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and specifically, the Irish Aid/IIED Climate and Development Learning Platform, offers support on the integration of climate action into country programmes and to Irish Aid’s network of climate focal points. Irish Aid and IIED are currently undertaking a review of this partnership to maximise its potential. 

In addition to A Better World, Ireland’s development co-operation is guided by two other strategic documents with specific climate action elements: 

  • Ireland's Strategy for Partnership with Small Island Developing States

  • Ireland’s Strategy for Africa to 2025. 

Ireland’s climate action efforts at the global level are further integrated into national plans and policies, including the national Climate Action Plan and the National Adaptation Framework. 

In accordance with a commitment in the current Programme for Government, a dedicated Climate Unit was established within Irish Aid in October 2020. The role of the Unit is to help support, shape and scale up Ireland’s climate diplomacy and climate financing at the global level. The Climate Unit leads a number of initiatives to achieve this, including its task to establish a methodology in the coming months for strengthening the climate proofing of all of Ireland’s ODA. The Unit acts as a hub for a network of climate focal points across the Department’s Units and Missions abroad. It also represents the Department of Foreign Affairs in interdepartmental fora on climate, thus promoting policy coherence across government.  

The Department of Finance has also enhanced the organisational capacity of the Climate and International Finance Division and will further deepen engagement on sustainable and international climate finance through international forums, including the European Union and multilateral development banks (MDBs). 

A Better World contains a number of commitments on climate action. These include:

  • climate proof development co-operation by integrating climate action into all of its work

  • continue to scale up allocations to climate action innovations

  • ensure climate action is prioritised in all interventions around food and agriculture

  • develop a new Oceans Funding initiative to explore the potential of the blue economy

  • future proof all interventions by engaging on climate issues as part of systems strengthening.

  • Ireland’s Strategy for Africa to 2025 commits to:

  • work closely with African partners, as part of the commitment to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, to ensure that resources to tackle climate change are made available where they are most needed

  • scale up funding on climate action

  • future proof all development interventions

  • ensure that climate action is central to all new Country Strategies in Africa

  • explore innovative approaches to climate finance and risk insurance.

Ireland's Strategy for Partnership with Small Island Developing States (SIDS) contains a number of specific initiatives to support climate action in relation to SIDS, and are outlined in the section below.

Through a longstanding partnership with the IIED, Irish Aid has established a centralised online Climate and Development Learning Platform. This acts as a resource for Ireland’s Missions, Units and development partners providing access to briefings on topical issues and opportunities to share learning. It further supports the exploration of linkages to Ireland’s three other key development priorities: prioritising gender equality; reducing humanitarian need; and strengthening governance. Through this partnership, Missions and Units also receive regular technical assistance and support in their multi-year strategy and budget planning processes.

In addition, the recently established Climate Unit in Irish Aid acts as a hub for co-ordinating policy and sharing progress and activities across the Department.

As noted above, the Department of Foreign Affairs has engaged a consultant to support the development of a methodology to enhance the climate proofing of all of Ireland’s ODA.

As above, Ireland tracks its progress against the Interim Climate Actions through quarterly reporting of progress against each action, submitted to the Department of the Taoiseach (head of government).

Across Ireland’s development missions, the Department of Foreign Affairs applies a country-strategic planning cycle. Missions with specific climate change objectives are required to include outcome and output monitoring in annual cycles, and to assess overall progress through evaluations of the strategic plans and country programmes.

In keeping with Ireland’s particular focus on adaptation, Ireland supports the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process in LDCs and SIDS. Ireland funds the LDCs Expert Group (LEG), the only body mandated by Parties to the UNFCCC to provide dedicated support to LDCs. The LEG assists these countries in their efforts to design, plan and implement NAPs and facilitates access to financial and technical support. In addition, Ireland is one of just three developed countries to hold a seat on the LEG, alongside Canada and Germany. Ireland’s membership of this group strongly informs its climate diplomacy.

Ireland’s climate finance is channelled through multilateral, bilateral and civil society organisation (CSO) development assistance, to strengthen national capacities. Irish Aid missions in developing countries work in partnership with national authorities to advance nationally driven climate agendas, working directly with relevant line ministries, such as energy, sanitation, education or agriculture ministries.

Ireland is providing early-stage support to the LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience (LIFE-AR). The Life-AR programme supports locally driven climate change adaptation efforts in the most vulnerable countries and communities. Led by the LEG, the initiative seeks to assist seven of these countries in designing and implementing national climate action plans; to establish mechanisms for peer-to-peer learning and dissemination of best practice; and to support effective and credible climate financing in order to enhance LDC ownership of their adaptation efforts.

Ireland funds the LEG, the UNFCCC-mandated body to provide technical assistance to LDCs for national adaptation planning and implementation processes, including support to navigate financing and technical resources.

Ireland’s development co-operation plays a distinct role in climate action, supporting solutions for those furthest behind. At the heart of Ireland’s climate action is a commitment to climate justice, including for women and girls. As reflected in the current Programme for Government, Ireland’s international climate support explicitly focuses on the needs of those countries and communities who are least responsible for causing climate change, have limited resources to respond and adapt, and who have the most to lose. As a consequence of this focus, Ireland’s support is particularly dedicated to climate-resilient development pathways and adaptation in LDCs and SIDS.

The Irish Aid Climate Unit has identified two core priorities for Ireland’s climate diplomacy based on an analysis of where Ireland can add the most value. These priorities are:

  • climate adaptation and resilience

  • oceans and the sustainable blue economy.

Ireland believes strongly in the need for a larger proportion of funding to go to climate adaptation, which promises greater development dividends. This will be a key concern in the development of Ireland’s climate finance roadmap. The majority of Ireland’s climate finance supports adaptation measures in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – especially in Africa – and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), approximately half of this with mitigation co-benefits. Ireland is also increasing its efforts to ensure that more adaptation financing reaches the local level.

On oceans, Ireland’s approach is to balance economic needs with sustainable ecosystems and human engagement with oceans. This includes addressing threats to the fisheries sector, providing for sustainable tourism, and preventing pollution.

Ireland’s support for quality infrastructure is largely channelled through its contributions to multilateral organisations, funds and development banks such as the European Investment Bank, the World Bank and the Green Climate Fund. 

In 2021, Ireland is providing EUR 2 million to the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) new Enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP+), supporting smallholder resilience in low-income countries. ASAP+ is envisioned to be the largest fund dedicated to channelling climate finance to small-scale producers to help them to combat the climate change and social drivers of food insecurity. The programme will work primarily in low-income countries – particularly those in debt distress – whose economies depend heavily on agricultural production. In addition, provisions will be made for SIDS and other particularly vulnerable or fragile countries where pockets of food insecurity persist.

In Malawi, the Embassy of Ireland worked with Malawi’s Ministry of Energy to meet an ambitious target, set in 2012, to produce and put into use 2 million energy-saving cook stoves. They collaborated with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), women’s groups and energy entrepreneurs to deliver this target. By the end of 2020, more than 2 032 526 improved stoves reached Malawian households, resulting in at least USD 1.34 million in income for stove producers and retailers, a wood savings of 5.4 million tonnes, reduction in carbon emissions of 8.1 million tonnes, as well as income-generating opportunities for 4 780 people.

Ireland’s Strategy for Partnership with SIDS (2019) contains a number of commitments to support SIDS. This is based on four strategic objectives. These are:

  • They will use their influence to champion the needs of SIDS.

  • Ireland will use its place in Europe to ensure the European Union’s institutions, policies and support are delivering for SIDS.

  • Based on its values, Ireland will establish a series of regional partnerships that will directly help address the needs of SIDS, and can evolve to meet changing circumstances.

  • Ireland will establish mechanisms that can help its people contribute their expertise to development challenges in SIDS.

In fulfilment of these objectives, Ireland has provided targeted adaptation funding to SIDS, including through the Ireland Trust Fund for Building Climate Change and Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States administered by the Asian Development Bank, as well as specific support to SIDS participation in international processes and negotiations. In 2020, Ireland provided support to Tuvalu in hosting the Pacific Islands Forum Negotiators meeting ahead of the Intergovernmental Conference for the development of a legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

In addition, Ireland has committed dedicated resources to continuous dialogue with SIDS, holding regular meetings to share views and build further collaboration.

This support is further provided for in Ireland’s Programme for Government.

In 2019, Ireland announced the formation of a new EUR 12 million climate change and disaster resilience fund at the Asian Development Bank dedicated to SIDS in the Pacific. The trust fund aims to help to increase SIDS’ resilience to the impacts of climate change and to disasters caused by natural hazards. The fund also seeks to help to increase investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation among the SIDS. Specifically, the fund supports projects in the areas of:

  • climate change adaptation

  • disaster resilience

  • disaster preparedness and management

  • capacity building

  • regulatory and legislative reforms.

Through its funding to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), Ireland supports disaster risk insurance mechanisms in the Caribbean.

Ireland funds the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). SPREP is a core technical agency contributing to UNFCCC communities of practice on adaptation and a Green Climate Fund accredited entity. Ireland’s funding targets enhanced capacity among key institutions in vulnerable Pacific Islands for climate services, access to climate finance, implementation of multilateral environment agreements, inclusion in relation to gender and disability, early warning systems, ocean ecosystem-based adaptation and policy responses to loss and damage.

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