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Irish-led international education project to grow understanding of the bioeconomy in society

Irish-led international education project to grow understanding of the bioeconomy in society

Thursday, 26 May, 2022

€2million ‘BioBeo’ project funded under Horizon Europe, Ireland in ‘unique position’ to lead sustainability-focused next-generation project.

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN:  A new €2 million project to develop a bioeconomy education programme has been funded by the EU’s research and innovation framework, Horizon Europe.

Coordinated by Associate Professor Tom Curran, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, BioBeo will be delivered by 15 partners across 10 countries, including Maynooth University and An Taisce in Ireland.

The overall aim of BioBeo is to develop and deploy an education programme that will enhance understanding and engagement across society regarding ‘circularity’ and the bioeconomy. This work will centre around five bioeconomy themes – interconnectedness, outdoor learning, forestry, life below water, and the food loop.

The project builds on the work of a major EU-China programme Agrocycle (also led by UCD) and aligns closely with An Taisce’s Green-Schools programme in Ireland.

Associate Professor Tom Curran

BioBeo lead, Associate Prof. Tom Curran said: “It is timely that we are launching the BioBeo project on education for the bioeconomy during the European Year of Youth, as we can build on the award-winning learning materials from our previous AgroCycle project. From our experience, we know that engagement with students in a creative way has the potential to have a significant impact on embedding sustainability and bioeconomy concepts in young minds and inspiring STEM-related careers for the benefit of society.”.

Leading the education development work, Dr. Maire Nic An Bhaird, Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, Maynooth University, said: “A key focus is on embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into primary and secondary education programmes across Europe, leading to an enhanced society-wide understanding of a sustainable future for the next generation. This is a great opportunity for Froebel at Maynooth University to play a key European leadership role in this rapidly developing area of education.”

Michael John O'Mahony, Director of the Environmental Education Unit, An Taisce, said: “Green-Schools in Ireland is an example of international best practice for the 70 plus national operators within the international Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE, another BioBeo partner) network. From a Green-Schools point of view, the BioBeo project provides a wide range of opportunities to share with and learn from this dynamic network, and lead the development of new and critical aspects of the Green-Schools Programme, its practitioners and participatory network and the wider community.”

The project will strengthen a sustainable network of interconnected European educators and stakeholders committed to promoting the bioeconomy concept through all channels. The network will provide the means for better coordination between bio-science and education in schools by developing the ‘Circular Economy-Science-Society’ message.

It will have a particular focus on circular lifestyle, circular behaviours, and a governance framework on society-wide engagement in bioeconomy policy. BioBeo will also address social issues such as gender bias, disadvantaged youth groups, migrants and members of society with additional needs.

Project partner and member of the European Commission Mission Board for Soil Health and Food, UCD’s Prof Shane Ward said: “Given the unique position of Ireland as a global leader in sustainable agri-food systems, it is highly opportune that UCD and Maynooth University have come together in the leadership of this pan-EU bioeconomy project.”

“This UCD-MU partnership began in 2016 with the Sino-EU H2020 AgroCycle ‘circular economy’ project, led by UCD and with MU leading the ‘science for society’ education aspects. BioBeo is a sequel to AgroCycle, focusing on education as a key delivery pathway for a functioning and vibrant European bioeconomy.”

“The UCD-MU team is supported by An Taisce regarding community-wide engagement and implementation, thus strengthening Ireland’s leadership role. The 12 other BioBeo European partners will work with the UCD-MU-An Taisce team to provide a framework for the implementation of the BioBeo outputs across different societies, cultures and economies on a European-wide scale.”

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