Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence

COP26 and its Potential Impact on the Developing World: Discussion

Ms Louise Finan:

I apologise that members cannot see me; I am not sure what is happening with my camera. I am delighted to have the opportunity, on behalf of Dóchas and our members, to discuss with the committee the enormously important issue around COP26, which is currently taking place in Glasgow.

First, I thank all members of the committee for their engagement and support during Dóchas's last meeting with them in July. At that point, we were seeking their support for the five key asks in our pre-budget submission, in particular, the need for the Government to increase its spending on official development assistance, ODA, if it is to deliver on its Global Ireland strategy and Irish Aid’s international development policy, A Better World. To that end, we very much welcome the Government’s announcement of an additional allocation of €140 million to ODA in 2022. We see this as an important step towards meeting our international commitments and ensuring no one is left behind. We were also encouraged to hear of the intention of the Minister of State, Deputy Brophy, to work with his own Department and other Departments, including the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to put in place systems to grow our ODA in line with the commitment of spending 0.7% by 2030. Determined progress will ensure that we meet our pledge and commit to supporting lives which have been upended by Covid-19, conflict and the ever-devastating impact of climate change.

Today, Dóchas members are here to discuss with the committee members why COP26 is a critical moment for multilateral climate action, and to give them a sense of what meaningful action would mean for some of the world's most impacted communities.

We ask for the committee's support today to ensure Ireland addresses the climate change challenge by focusing on the actions it needs to take both domestically and internationally to ensure sustainable development is delivered for all future generations.

To that end, we welcome the Taoiseach's comments during COP26, which will be delivered today, which demonstrate we are serious about making progress towards meeting our fair share of climate finance. When this financing is provided for the benefit of those on the front line of climate change it can have a transformative effect.

The members will have read many reports about the effects climate change is having on the poorest people in the world, how it is increasing poverty and inequality, preventable diseases, food insecurity and water stress as well as conflict over scarce natural resources. My colleagues today from Concern Worldwide in Malawi, World Vision Ireland and Oxfam International, present at COP26, will set the scene for the members of the reality of these effects on the communities they work with and the actions they hope will be taken during COP26 and, indeed, actions the members as Irish parliamentarians can take.

I thank the members for their attention and for their ongoing support to Dóchas and its members.