In January of this year, my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan TD, issued a work programme for the development of a national climate policy. In accordance with this work programme, he will issue the Heads of a Climate Bill, by the end of 2012, for consideration by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht, following Government approval. I will be contributing actively to Government consideration of the draft Heads of a Climate Bill. As I stated at the United Nations last year, climate change is already having an enormous effect on the lives and the livelihoods of some of the poorest people in the world.
At the country level through our aid programme, Irish Aid, we have witnessed the effects of climate change on the ground. Through our development work, particularly in relation to our work to combat hunger, we have sought to provide assistance to help farmers and communities adapt to the changing environmental context. Through our support for pro-poor agricultural research we are assisting farmers become more productive through enhancing farm methods and improved seed varieties. We are scaling up many agricultural supports that deliver on both hunger and climate objectives, such as conservation agriculture, agro-forestry, crop diversification and the development and promotion of drought resistant crop and livestock varieties.
Irish Aid will continue strengthening its engagement on environment and climate change issues to safeguard the progress made to date in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to protect the world's poorest communities from the increasing impacts of adverse weather events and growing environmental challenges. In this regard I would note that my Department has excellent co-operation with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, which is the Department with lead responsibility in relation to Ireland's climate change response. In the context of the Review of the White Paper on Irish Aid, I am determined that this will continue in the future.