Even the most prepared countries need to focus more on climate change, according to the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Country Index. The annual study—which measures how 181 countries compare on vulnerability to climate impacts and readiness to successfully implement adaptation solutions—shows that top-ranked nations such as Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden have seen declining scores in the last five years.
To better understand the situation in one of these top countries, a team of Notre Dame interns worked this summer to inventory adaptation resources, policies, and plans from communities throughout Ireland.
Students participating in the virtual internship were guided by faculty and staff from Notre Dame’s Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI) and the Dublin Global Gateway (DGG). The internship advisory group included Danielle Wood, faculty director of ND-GAIN, associate director of research in the Center for Civic Innovation, and associate professor of the practice in the College of Engineering; Kara Primmer, ND-ECI program director, and Eimear Clowry, assistant director of the DGG.
“We chose Ireland for this exploration because it is an example of a country that has had roughly the same ranking for over the past 20 years, yet in the past five years the score has declined. This, coupled with an increasing European Union focus on climate policies and a strong public interest in addressing climate change, made it a good choice for the pilot,” said Wood. “The existing support networks through the DGG also made the inventory project feasible in the short space of a summer.”
While Wood and Primmer provided content guidance, Clowry provided orientation, oversight, and access to networks to the intern team.
“This research project has garnered interest from prominent academics and practitioners in Ireland. The opportunities for developing community engaged projects with these local experts together with the Gateway are vast and we are very committed to exploring ways to meaningfully collaborate into the future,” Clowry said.
The interdisciplinary internship team was selected from a number of applicants and comprised four Notre Dame undergraduate students. The students, who each provided diverse skill sets, are Terrance Cameron, senior majoring in mechanical engineering, Meghan David, senior majoring in civil engineering, Meg Hilbert, junior majoring in environmental science, and Brendan McFeely, majoring in political science and classics.
Throughout the course of the internship, Notre Dame students made meaningful connections with faculty and professionals working in the adaptation space in Ireland.
“Climate science is the emergent science of recent human history. A multitude of climate-related studies have been completed and many more are being carried out; all indicating, in some way or another, the necessity of overcoming our vulnerability and building climate resilience,” said Marcus Collier, associate professor of sustainability science at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), who met with the intern team. “The ND-GAIN climate inventory effort for Ireland shows that targeted policies and strategic governance initiatives can help to build this resilience, and future collaboration with TCD in this critical area is always welcome. As a member of the TCD School of Natural Sciences, I embrace new student learnings and outputs, and will always welcome collaborations with the researchers of the future.”
The goal of the program was to grow collaborations while increasing understanding of adaptation practices in other countries. Future programming aims to build upon these connections to foster collaboration on projects between faculty and students at Notre Dame and Irish universities.
To learn more about ND-GAIN or the Country Index, please visit gain.nd.edu.
Brandi Wampler / Research Communications Specialist
Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame
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