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Report Projects How Irish Coastal Communities Vulnerable to Climate Change

6th July 2023
First Hours of Flooding in Cork City, Ireland, in November 2009
First Hours of Flooding in Cork City, Ireland, in November 2009 Credit: Shutterstock, Greg Temnov.

Some coastal communities in Ireland are becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change, a new report warns.

The report by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the Ryan Institute at the University of Galway says these communities are at risk due to the increasing frequency and severity of extreme storms, flooding and sea level rise.

The IOM report, Assessing the Evidence: Migration, Environment and Climate Change in Ireland, also identified advantages and opportunities for Ireland to strengthen climate resilience.

Prof Charles Spillane, director of the interdisciplinary Ryan Institute, said the report includes future projections of escalating vulnerability and risk.

It also includes “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 Country Profile” in Europe, and is one of the 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, it notes.

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.

Darya Silchenko, one of the report 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”.

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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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.