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Agriculture and the environment on the island of Ireland

The Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland 2020 brings together contributions from a range of academics and cross-border cooperation practitioners addressing four broad sets of issues of contemporary relevance to how we relate and cooperate with each other across borders.

  • The first is the implementation of agreements with relevance to the island of Ireland;
  • the second is the response to the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • the third is the environment and agriculture; and,
  • the fourth is the scope for North-South cooperation within the economic and skills landscape before us.

The articles in this year’s edition of The Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland display an acute awareness of the significant challenges that lie ahead for cooperation between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland, with the potential impacts of Brexit looming large.  However, they are also conscious of both the need and the opportunities for cross-border cooperation to face up to not only the immediate threat posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, but also by the global climate emergency. The recent return of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly (whose absence had been noted in previous years’ editions of the Journal), allied to the Republic of Ireland’s Programme for Government, are also seen by many of the contributors to this year’s Journal as presenting opportunities for greater North-South cooperation, in spite of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Social Justice Ireland’s article ‘Agriculture and Environment – what paths will policy take?’ considers the future of agriculture and the environment on the island of Ireland, but with a particular focus on farm incomes and how these might be affected by moves to greater environmental sustainability across all areas of production. In terms of the current situation, while the agri-food sector is of considerable economic importance in both jurisdictions, farming can be a precarious activity, with significant income volatility and substantial reliance on the support offered through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).  Nevertheless, and partly in light of the fact that agriculture and the environment are areas of North-South cooperation within the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, and notwithstanding the possibility of significant divergence ahead, we conclude that “There is clear common ground across the island for convergence on sustainability, the future of agriculture and the environment”.

The Journal, including the paper from our Research and Policy Analyst, Michelle Murphy is available to download here.