Latest News

New Paradigm for EU-UN Science Collaboration in Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals Proposed Following Joint UCD and UN Event

Wednesday, 23 May, 2018 

UCD together with Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, have held an event in Brussels to explore the potential for new joint EU-UN mechanisms to enable a substantial global response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, especially in the area of agri-food.

The event entitled “The Contribution of EU Research and Innovation to the UN SDGs” was held as part of the UCD’s ongoing dialogue with policy-makers and stakeholders to frame agriculture, nutrition and sustainability research priorities for Horizon Europe, the next European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Pictured in Brussels at the UCD event entitled ‘The Contribution of EU Research and Innovation to the UN SDGs’ are Professor Orla Feely, Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, UCD; Mairead McGuinness MEP; Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason; Sean Kelly MEP and Triona McCormack, Director of Research, UCD

The EU Framework Programmes have had a tradition of focusing on global challenges over the last decade and will now embrace the UN’s SDGs which have the specific objectives of ending poverty, reducing inequalities and protecting the environment.

Among those attending the event were representatives from a large number of African Embassies to EU, officials from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development and Directorate-General Research and Innovation, MEPs, including Irish MEPs; Deirdre Clune, Brian Hayes, Sean Kelly and Matt Carthy.


Ireland has established a reputation as a global leader on issues of nutrition and food security, which are central to the SDG agenda. The agri-food/agri-business sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, employing over 170,000 people with an annual turnover of €26 billion.

UCD is leading research and innovation in this sector. World-class UCD scientists lead a portfolio of initiatives, in partnership with industry, to create safe, sustainable and novel foods that promote human health and well-being leveraging the latest data and processing technologies.

Speaking after the event UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, Professor Orla Feely said, “I am delighted that we had this opportunity to commence a dialogue with stakeholders to see how we can best combine the resources and knowledge of the EU and UN in the implementation of the SDGs agenda.”

She added, “Scientific progress, research capacity and improved technology all have a significant role to play in finding solutions which address global challenges in areas such as food security and food sustainability. Tackling such challenges, which are key to achieving the UN’s SDGs, can only be realised through international co-operation and partnerships including those with the United Nations.”

She concluded, “Following this successful event UCD plans to launch a proposal for an agri-food capacity building initiative which combines the UN’s leadership with the EU’s capacity and ability to deliver scientific research in this area. UCD will play a leadership role in terms of assembling the stakeholders and interest groups that can deliver a new vision how science enables a cohesive response to the SDGs.”

Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason said, “Future economies will be built, not on the physical resources of the past, but on data flows, knowledge and collaboration. The developed and developing world can build a shared future based on sustainable development, if we create the right institutions and collaborate on bringing knowledge, capacity and infrastructure to support our actions on both sides.” 

She added, “To achieve this we need a new model of partnership that encourages dialogue between the UN and EU. We also need to examine the potential for joint instruments to enable a real global response. In this way we can develop long-term, strong vibrant and thriving societies across the world.”

She concluded, “This event is timely. In September this year the UN General Assembly will review progress on the implementation of the SDGs and in this context proposals for joint EU-UN initiatives should be considered as part of the review process.”

Hosting a lunch in honour of Ambassador Byrne Nason and UCD in the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness MEP, First Vice-President of the European Parliament said, “As we enter into negotiations on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) it is timely that Europe considers its relationship beyond its borders and how activities within the Union can be aligned to broader global goals.”

“The next European Research and Innovation Programme, Horizon Europe, will be central to Europe’s future global competitiveness. Ireland, and UCD, have an opportunity to lead a discussion on the EU’s relationship beyond its borders, particularly its relationship with its neighbouring continent, Africa. I congratulate UCD for taking the initiative and starting this dialogue. As First Vice-President of the European Parliament, I am happy to support this initiative.”

Other speakers at the event included; Dr Patrick Gomes, Secretary General of the Afro-Caribbean Pacific Group of States, Linda McAvan MEP, Chairperson of the European Parliament’s Development Committee, Oana Neagu, Director General Affairs, COPA-COGECA, the umbrella organisation for EU farming and co-operative associations.