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UCD research teams awarded funding to tackle UN Sustainable Development Goals

Posted 10 March, 2023

Three research teams from (opens in a new window)University College Dublin will share in €2.1 million of funding provided by the (opens in a new window)Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Challenge to develop solutions to climate action challenges.

Run in partnership between Science Foundation Ireland and Irish Aid, the SDG Challenge currently has six teams competing to develop innovative solutions to problems associated with climate, biodiversity and the environment, with a specific objective of addressing challenges in countries where Irish Aid works. 

The ideas being developed include:

  • Mapping mangroves in Vietnam and restoring them;
  • Evaluating solar disinfection technology in Malawi for water use in clinical settings;
  • Recycling heat from meat production in Zambia;
  • Investigating green infrastructure in urban environments in Tanzania
  • Exploring relationships between water and the ecosystem to improve management of drought and floods in sub-Saharan cities;
  • Working with farmers to use data to co-design solutions to climate change in Uganda.

The winner of the SDG Challenge will receive €1m to further advance their solution.

These projects represent international collaborations between research institutes in Ireland and groups in Irish Aid partner countries, in this case Tanzania, Zambia, Vietnam, Malawi and Uganda.

The UCD teams awarded funding are:

  • Dr Quan Le, UCD School of Computer Science, and (opens in a new window)Dr Anh Vu Vo, UCD School of Computer Science - who are mapping the mangroves of Vietnam in high resolution to track changes and implement restoration.
    • Dr Tuan-Quoc Vo, Can Tho University, Partner Country Team Lead; Dr Thuy Nguyen-Thi-Bich, The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development, SNV, Societal Impact Champion. Partner country: Vietnam.

“The climate crisis and its consequences for life demand solutions that we can deploy as soon as possible,” said Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD.

“SFI’s Challenge Funding Programmes seek to support Ireland’s research community to accelerate the pace of innovation, developing novel, potentially disruptive, technologies to address significant societal challenges.

“These teams will work with researchers in Irish Aid’s partner countries to devise, refine and implement solutions to problems that threaten everyday life.

“This real-world impact is at the heart of the challenge-based funding supported by SFI and my department, which will utilise the best of research to make many lives better.” 

Minister of State for International Development and Diaspora Sean Fleming TD added: “We have already seen how developing nations can be disproportionately affected by the climate crisis.

“By supporting researchers both in Ireland and in the countries where Irish Aid works, we will use innovative ideas and cutting-edge scientific research to help mitigate some of those effects.” 

Professor Philip Nolan, SFI Director General, said: “The award of this funding is an exciting moment for these teams, and we are looking forward very much to seeing how they use this opportunity to advance their research.

“These six teams are working on specific problems that are central to our response to the climate crisis and using their creativity and research skills to develop immediate solutions.

“Not only do they represent some of the best of Irish research, they are also driven by the hope that their solutions can change the world – a sentiment at the heart of challenge-based funding.” 

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations