IOM and University of Galway Publish Europe’s First Country Profile on Migration, Environment and Climate Change

First Hours of Flooding in Cork City, Ireland, in November 2009. Credit – Shutterstock, Greg Temnov.
Jul 04 2023 Posted: 11:34 IST

A new report published today by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the Ryan Institute at the University of Galway has found that the increasing frequency and severity of extreme storms, flooding and sea level rise, means that some communities in Ireland are becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change, due to much of Ireland’s population residing in coastal zones.

The IOM report, Assessing the Evidence: Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) in Ireland, also includes advantages and opportunities for Ireland to strengthen climate resilience, including by better supporting vulnerable communities and improving understanding of the advantages of human mobility and of people on the move.

            Director of the Interdisciplinary Ryan Institute at University of Galway, Professor Charles Spillane said: “The report synthesizes the mounting evidence that climate change impacts on human migration in Ireland. It includes future projections of escalating vulnerability and risk as well as recommendations for strengthening national responses regarding human mobility changes in response to climatic and environmental changes in Ireland.”

The report is the first Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Country Profile in Europe and adds to IOM’s growing number of country reports which assess the evidence of the effects of climate change on migration.

Climate change is reshaping migration patterns around the world, with disasters now being the leading cause of internal displacements. Last year alone, 32.6 million new internal human displacements were caused by disasters, according to the 2023 Global Report on Internal Displacement, published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

            Dr Soumyadeep Banerjee, IOM Regional Migration, Environment and Climate Change Specialist, highlighted that in response to the climate crisis, IOM now has extensive activities underway on the migration, environment and climate change nexus, working with governments and partners on solutions at each stage of the migration cycle: “Climate and migration is a growing issue for countries around the world, including for Ireland. This report includes solutions for people to move, people on the move, and people to stay.”

            Darya Silchenko, one of the authors and a graduate of University of Galway’s Masters in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, said: “The report found that there is a scarcity of research and policy efforts that integrate climate change and environmental hazards in Ireland with their impacts on human migration. With climate change adaptation as an increasingly urgent national and global priority, it is vital to adopt a precautionary approach that considers the impacts for vulnerable communities. Further aligning migration and climate policies will be essential to build capacity for addressing present and future challenges through an inclusive and human-centered approach."

            Dr Peter McKeown, Coordinator of the Master in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security programme, said: “It is so important to education and train the next generation of ‘change agents’ such as Darya, so that they can make practical and significant contributions to climate action. As the frequency, duration and intensity of natural hazards worsens in the context of climate change, the number of climate disasters is expected to rise considerably with knock-on effects on human displacement.”

            International development, climate and migration expert Dr Una Murray within the Ryan Institute said: “The IOM Country Profile for Ireland encourages government and relevant stakeholders to consider key challenges and opportunities arising from the migration, environment and climate change nexus.” 

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 10.7 calls on countries to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies. The IOM Country Profile makes a contribution to the realisation of SDG target 10.7 in Ireland, the EU and globally.

The report was compiled by a team from IOM and the University of Galway, including Darya Silchenko, Andrew Chisholm, Dr Una Murray, Dr Peter McKeown, Professor Charles Spillane and Lalini Veerassamy. 

The full IOM Country Profile ‘Assessing the Evidence: Migration, Environment and Climate Change in Ireland’ can be accessed through the IOM Environmental Migration Portal here.


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