State to address causes and drivers of conflict including impact of climate change, says Coveney

Irish Aid annual report for 2021 outlines global impact of State’s development aid programme

The Republic will continue to highlight the growing threat to global security from climate disruption, according to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

“We continue to address the underlying causes and drivers of conflict, including the impact of climate change,” he said at an event in Dublin on Tuesday to mark the publication of the Irish Aid annual report for 2021.

After Ireland took up its seat on the UN Security Council in January, “we worked to integrate our development and political priorities in contributing to the council’s vital peace and security mandate”, he said.

The State co-chaired with Niger the council’s working group on climate and security. In December, the two countries brought a climate-related resolution to the council for the first time which called for a more systematic approach to climate analysis and action in the council’s work.


“Unfortunately, despite receiving the second-highest number of co-sponsors from General Assembly members in the history of the UN, the resolution was vetoed by the Russian Federation,” Mr Coveney said.

“We are not deterred in pursuing this agenda and continue to strongly engage in diplomacy on the links between climate and security, as well as financing programmes to address these issues in some of the world’s most fragile states,” he underlined.

The report acknowledges “a growing evidence base outlining the threat that climate change poses to international peace and security”.

As global temperatures increase, populations around the world must contend with rising sea levels, more frequent and more intense storms, extended droughts, and resource scarcities, it notes.

“These events compound economic, social and political drivers of insecurity, and leave vulnerable populations even more exposed to crises,” it warns — of the 15 countries most exposed to climate risks, eight host UN peacekeeping or special political missions.

The year 2021 was one in which hunger continued to rise, and food insecurity reached unprecedented levels with UN indications that 45 million people in 43 countries were “teetering on the brink of famine”, it adds. Climate change contributed to more frequent and more intense climate-related disasters, such as the famine-like conditions in Madagascar and the floods in South Sudan. Millions of people fleeing disasters contributed to record numbers of refugees and displaced populations.

“Supporting global access to vaccines, responding to complex humanitarian crises, and committing to more than double climate finance were among the key achievements of Ireland’s overseas development aid (ODA) programme in 2021,” it notes.

The Republic invested a record €967 million in ODA in 2021, up from €868m in 2020 — surpassing the previous high of €921m in 2008.

Climate finance

It pledged five million vaccines to people in low-income countries, as well as providing €8.5 million to the Covax initiative to support international vaccine procurement and administration. The State’s first vaccine donation took place in September 2021 when 335,000 vaccines were delivered to Uganda, with further quantities delivered to Nigeria, Ghana and Indonesia.

The Republic contributed €92 million to climate finance in 2021 and has committed to increasing that to €225 million annually by 2025. It invested almost €230 million in responding to humanitarian disasters, including those caused by conflict and climate change.

“In the face of growing challenges posed by conflict, climate change, Covid-19 and other crises, we redoubled our efforts to implement A Better World, Ireland’s development co-operation policy,” said Mr Coveney.

Minister for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora Colm Brophy highlighted the role played during 2021 “in addressing the impact of complex global challenges on some of the most vulnerable people and communities. I was honoured to be in Uganda to witness Irish vaccines being put into Ugandan arms. It was a striking example of Ireland’s solidarity and support for people around the world.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected women and girls, and led to an increase in gender-based violence, higher school dropout rates, increased forced marriages, and higher levels of unemployment.

“One of the core principles of Ireland’s work around the world is our commitment to urgent and sustained action on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The OECD has consistently ranked Ireland as one of the member countries with the highest focus on gender equality focus in our official development assistance.”

Supports for individual countries included:

  • In Tanzania, 235,000 refugees were supported with emergency food assistance through partnership with the World Food Programme;
  • In Vietnam, 57,400 people benefited from a project supported by the Republic to help farmers recover from flooding and landslides;
  • In Uganda, the Republic supported the delivery of monthly senior citizens’ grants to more than 368,500 people;
  • In Palestine, the Republic provided €1.5 million in emergency humanitarian support;
  • In Sudan, the Republic provided €3.6 million in humanitarian assistance in the context of one in three people requiring aid;
  • In Tanzania, 27,000 young people were reached with sexual and reproductive health and rights support.
Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times