Two new research co-centres for climate change are set to commence operations in January, with a focus on sustainable agri-food and biodiversity loss. The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, along with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Katrina Godfrey, have announced a joint funding of €70 million to establish these research centres. The aim is to bring together academics, industry, and policymakers from Ireland, the UK, and Northern Ireland to collaborate on common challenges.
One of the research centres, funded with €41.3 million, will be based in Trinity College Dublin (TCD), while the other will be headquartered in Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). The Dublin centre will focus on climate change, biodiversity loss, and water degradation. The objective is to conduct research that enables fair transformations to Net Zero, reverses biodiversity loss, restores water quality, and ensures resilience for communities and a sustainable economy. The researchers will collaborate with other universities and concentrate on sustainable agri-food transitions, sustainable communities and livelihoods, assessing risks and opportunities, and investing in carbon and nature, particularly in forestry, peatlands, grasslands, and coastal habitats.
Professor Yvonne Buckley, a zoology expert at Trinity and co-director of Climate+, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “It is clear from the scientific evidence that business as usual is no longer an option, and we are delighted to be working with forward-thinking and progressive industry partners.”
The Belfast centre, on the other hand, will focus on sustainable and resilient food systems. To address challenges related to food system integrity and resilience, food safety, and healthy diets from sustainable sources, the centre plans to undertake a research programme across four platforms. These platforms include sustainable food, food safety and integrity, nutrition and health, and food systems data modelling. Professor Mark Emmerson, co-director of Climate+ at Queen’s University Belfast, highlighted the interdisciplinary approach of the centre, stating, “Climate+ will provide a mix of integrated solutions drawing on expertise from across the natural, social, and physical sciences to help mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, and water quality declines.”
These research co-centres represent a significant investment in addressing the pressing challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. By bringing together experts from academia, industry, and government, these centres aim to foster collaboration and innovation in finding sustainable solutions for a more resilient future. With their focus on sustainable agri-food and biodiversity, these centres will play a crucial role in advancing Ireland’s efforts to combat climate change and protect its natural environment.