Linking the Irish Environment

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The island of Ireland is a single biogeographic unit with shared landscapes, water sources, flora and fauna. We are in the midst of a climate and biodiversity crisis on the island and both jurisdictions face similar challenges in addressing these crises. Protecting this common environment is dependent on coherent policy-making, high standards and regulations and enforcement on both sides of the border. Increasing cross border cooperation and policy-making provides a real opportunity to improve the environment on an all-island basis. The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit) threatens this cooperation and shared standards and thus presents a significant risk to the all-island environmental integrity of the island of Ireland.  

The Irish Environmental Network (IEN) and Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL) have been working together for a number of years to understand and highlight these risks and to identify policy and practical solutions to shared environmental challenges. As part of this work we commissioned a report Linking the Irish Environment to examine how best to enable the environment sector across the island of Ireland to cooperate and engage on an all-island and cross-border basis to deal with these shared challenges, risks, and opportunities. The research team is as follows: Dr. Ciara Brennan (Environmental Justice Network Ireland), Dr. Finbarr Brereton (UCD), Dr. Mary Dobbs (MU), Dr. Viviane Gravey (QUB), Hannah Gould (UCD), Alison Hough BL (TUS) and Dr. Lisa Whitten (QUB)

This report builds on the 2019 report written by Alison Hough, ‘Brexit, the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and the Environment: Issues arising and possible solutions’ and commission by IEN and NIEL. The report is being published in two stages. The first stage of the report examines the state of play regarding the current environmental regulatory and governance arrangements on the island, including the Protocol, the TCA, Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, international agreements and the level and experience of practical cooperation on the environment across the island.

The second stage of the report will be a series of recommendations on mechanisms and advocacy priorities which can be used or developed by NIEL/IEN to advance citizens’ and NGO engagement in all-island environmental issues. The stage is currently undergoing consultation and will be published in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions on the content of this report, please contact the researchers at: Dr Ciara Brennan (

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