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New Climate+ Co-Centre to focus on interlinked climate-related challenges including water and biodiversity

Published: Friday, 01 December, 2023

UCD is part of a newly launched, highly ambitious €41.3 million research centre – the Climate + Biodiversity and Water Co-Centre – which will be the home of research, innovation, and policy development across the interlinked challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and water degradation on the islands of Ireland and Britain. The Climate+ Co-Centre is one of two large-scale research centres announced this week. The other is the Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems which is being co-led by UCD.

Climate+ will initially be funded over six years by Science Foundation Ireland, Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs, and UK Research & Innovation. It will receive more than 30% co-funding from 29 industry partners and will commence operation on 1st January 2024. 

Trinity College Dublin, where the Centre will be headquartered, are lead partners alongside Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Reading. The Centre has an additional 11 academic partner institutions in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain, including UCD. In total, over 60 leading researchers will be collaborating on Climate+ across these 14 institutions. 

The full list of Climate+ academic partner institutions are: Trinity College Dublin; Maynooth University; University of Galway; University College Cork; Dublin City University; University College Dublin; Atlantic Technological University; University of Limerick; Queen’s University Belfast; Ulster University; Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute; University of Reading; Newcastle University; UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

The UCD co-applicant is Professor Mary Kelly-Quinn (School of Biology and Environmental Science and Earth Institute Water theme co-lead) and listed UCD funded investigators include Dr Jan Robert Baars, Dr Fiachra O'Loughlin (Earth Institute Water theme co-lead), Associate Professor Jens Carlsson, Dr Jonathan Turner, Associate Professor John O'Sullivan, Professor Olaf Schmidt and Professor Michael Wallace, most of whom are Earth Institute members.

Climate+ research aims to facilitate fair transitions to Net Zero, reverse biodiversity loss, and restore water quality for a sustainable economy. Climate+ researchers will provide urgently required solutions and pathways for sustainable and just transitions in land use for climate, biodiversity and water, seeking to deliver the solutions needed at individual and systemic levels, as well as providing the evidence-based tools to facilitate positive change.

Climate+ researchers will also work with industry partners to identify and validate the innovations needed to thrive in a climate, nature and water-positive world. Specifically, they will collaborate with industry partners in 1) Sustainable AgriFood Transitions; 2) Sustainable Communities & Livelihoods; 3) Assessing Risks & Opportunities; and 4) Investing in Carbon & Nature, in forestry, peatlands, grasslands and coastal habitats.

Professor Mary Kelly-Quinn, UCD co-applicant said “this is a great and timely opportunity for coordinated multidisciplinary  research to accelerate action and inform innovative solutions to address the significant challenges posed by climate change as well as stemming the loss of biodiversity and  degraded water quality.  The research outputs will have wide benefits for society and nature beyond the two participating islands.”

The Climate+ Co-Centre and the Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems were announced this week by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, 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. The Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems, a new €31.5 million sustainable Co-Centre aiming to transform food systems in Ireland and the UK is being co-led by UCD. Professor Eileen Gibney, UCD Institute of Food and Health is the UCD Co-Director. UCD Earth Institute members involved include Professor Kevin McDonnell, Professor Fiona Doohan, Professor Nick Holden, Dr Saoirse Tracy, Professor Michela Bertolotto and Associate Professor Angela Feechan. 

Professor Eoin O'Neill, UCD Earth Institute Director said "The scale and ambition of these two new Co-Centres indicates the commitment across Ireland and the UK to give collaborative research a central role in addressing urgent climate, environment and sustainability challenges. The Earth Institute looks forward to building on our existing relationships and working closely with both over the coming years"

More information on  Climate+ Co-Centre and on Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems