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UCD partners on new €31.5m food sustainability Co-Centre

Posted 29 November 2023

A new €31.5 million sustainable Co-Centre aiming to transform food systems in Ireland and the UK will be co-led by University College Dublin.

Bringing together world-leading researchers from institutions across both countries for the first time, the Co-Centre will work closing with government and industry to deliver innovative solutions to drive societal and political change in the transition to climate neutrality by 2050.

(opens in a new window)Professor Eileen Gibney, Director of UCD Institute of Food and Health, is a Co-Director on the transformative research programme, and will work alongside fellow Co-Director Professor Aedín Cassidy, Queen’s University Belfast, and Professor Louise Dye, University of Sheffield, who will lead the integrated UKRI research programme.

“This co-centre will play an important role in transforming our food system to be more resilient, healthy, and sustainable across these islands,” said Professor Gibney.

“The co-centre will drive change in the way we produce and consume food, addressing economic, social, and environmental problems to ensure safe nutritious food for all. We need to consider the challenges we face now and, in the future, and provide solutions that will work for us all.”

The new Co-Centre will focus on research expertise in specific areas that are core to food system transformation including food safety, production, nutrition, plant and animal science, behavioural change, data science, food system governance, and the political process of food system transformation.

Delivering on the four missions of the Irish Government’s Food Vision 2030, and the six priorities within the Northern Ireland Food Strategy Framework, it will develop innovative solutions to accelerate radical transitions towards a more environmentally and economically sustainable and transparent agri-food sector.

“In today’s society, a tenth of our population is undernourished while 25% are overweight, with over a third of the world’s population unable afford to eat a healthy diet,” said Professor Cassidy, Director for Interdisciplinary Research at the QUB Institute for Global Food Security.

“Add to this, our food supplies are disrupted by heatwaves, floods, drought and conflict. This funding announcement and the new co-centre it creates, will allow us to do the research needed to address these issues and to develop and test strategies to ensure a safe, transparent, sustainable, resilient food system and enhance the evidence base to realise the transition to healthy diets from sustainable sources.”

Professor Louise Dye, Co-Director of the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield, added: “We need to act now to ensure that we develop a robust, resilient, and sustainable food system that provides access to healthy, affordable, nutritious food for all. 

“The co-centre draws on a huge breadth of expertise from across the three jurisdictions in a transformative interdisciplinary collaboration which will take a one health approach to nutrition security… [and] will accelerate the transition towards a more environmentally and economically sustainable, transparent agri-food sector which provides healthy food for all.”

The Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems is funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and industry. 

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Emma Loughney, UCD Research and Innovation)

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie