University of Galway joins Ireland-UK research collaborations on climate and food sustainability

Professor Charlie Spillane (back row, right) is the Director of the Ryan Institute, a key research partner in the Climate+ Co-Centre, and is pictured with the University of Galway delegation attending COP28 Global Climate Summit in Dubai. Credit – University of Galway
Nov 29 2023 Posted: 10:44 GMT

University of Galway’s Ryan Institute a key partner in developing responses to climate change, biodiversity loss and water crises

University of Galway has joined a partnership of academics, industry and governments across Ireland and the UK to advance research to address climate, food sustainability, biodiversity and water crises.

The developments are part of a new Co-Centres research programme announced by the Irish, British and Northern Ireland governments with a €70 million investment over six years. 

University of Galway is an academic partner in the Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity and Water, and also in the Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems.

President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “Research and innovation to enable sustainability transitions are central to our University’s mission, where through our teaching and research activities, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework, we are enabling the next generation of students, researchers and innovators in tackling society’s sustainable development challenges. We welcome the opportunity to work in partnership through the new Co-Centres programme with academic colleagues, across the island of Ireland and in Britain, for the pubic good and to generate knowledge that enables a more sustainable future for all.“

  • Climate+ Co-Centre (Climate + Biodiversity & Water)

Involving 14 institutions and 64 researchers in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain, it will begin its work in January 2024, and will carry out research to enable the transformative change urgently needed to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and water crises, as well as developing solutions on just transitions in land use. The Co-Centre will work closely with industry partners and other on sustainable agrifood transitions; communities and livelihoods; assessing risks and opportunities; and investing in carbon and nature, in forestry, peatlands, grasslands and coastal habitats. The Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity and Water will be led by Trinity College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Reading, with University of Galway’s Ryan Institute as a key partner. 

Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute and lead of the Climate+ Sustainable AgriFood Transitions, said: “The CLIMATE+ Co-Centre is urgently needed to focus our combined research and innovation efforts on transition and transformation pathways that can address the converging and interlinked crises of climate change, biodiversity and water. The COP28 climate summit begins this week amidst ever rising emissions where humanity is on a trajectory for an alarming 3oC planetary warming by end of the century. In addition, we are in the midst of a massive biodiversity extinction crisis and a global water crisis, where difficult decisions will need to be made urgently by policymakers and society at large, to navigate major trade-offs, while maximising co-benefits, between sustainability options and actions on climate, biodiversity and water.”

  • Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems

Involving 14 institutions, again in Ireland, Britain and Northern Ireland, it will also begin its work in January 1 2024. Its aim is to develop innovative and transformative solutions to transition the food system for positive and sustainable change in the transition to climate-neutrality by 2050.  The Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems will be led by UCD, Queen’s University and University of Sheffield, with University of Galway as a key partner.

The Co-Centres programme was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan and Permanent Secretary at Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Katrina Godfrey.

It is funded over six years with an investment of €70m, which includes up to €40 million from Science Foundation Ireland (supported by the Department of Further, Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science and the Irish Government’s Shared Island Fund); up to £17 million from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland; and up to £12 million through UK Research and Innovation, and is co-funded by industry.


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