BRITAIN and Ireland have committed to a £60million project to bring academics, industry leaders and policymakers together to tackle climate change.
The work will take place under a co-centres programme, where researchers from Ireland and the UK will collaborate to tackle some of the biggest challenges posed by climate change and food sustainability.
The Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity and Water will “be a home of research, innovation, and policy development across the interlinked challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and water degradation”, the governments confirmed in a joint statement this morning.
“This will be achieved through research to enable fair transformations to Net Zero, reverse biodiversity loss, restore water quality and ensure resilience for communities,” they added.
The centre will be led by Professor Yvonne Buckley of Trinity College Dublin, Professor Mark Emmerson of Queens University Belfast and Professor Edward Hawkins of the University of Reading.
The second centre, titled Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems, will “develop innovative and transformative solutions to transition the food system for positive and sustainable change in the transition to climate-neutrality by 2050”.
The statement explained: “In order to address specific challenges centred around food system integrity and resilience, food safety and healthy diets from sustainable sources, the Co-Centre proposes to undertake a research programme across four platforms – sustainable food, food safety and integrity, nutrition and health, and food systems data modelling.”
This centre will be led by Professor Eileen Gibney of University College Dublin; Professor Aedin Cassidy of Queen’s University Belfast and Professor Louise Dye of the University of Sheffield.
Announcing the partnership in Dublin this morning, Ireland’s Minister for Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris said: “Addressing climate change and achieving sustainable and resilient food systems are intertwined challenges facing us all.
“This investment in two new collaborative research centres is a major development in addressing these pressing issues in a coordinated and concerted way.
“I’m delighted to see the very best minds and methods being brought together to create a dynamic research network across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”
Michelle Donelan, the British Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, was also at the announcement.
“As I know from my own family links, the UK and Ireland share deep ties – and in today’s fast-moving world, we share many of the same challenges, too,” she said.
“From our groundbreaking international work on AI, to our deal to join Horizon, the UK is determined to seize the opportunities for growth and prosperity that can be delivered, when we work together on science and tech with our neighbours, she added.
“By bringing together the genius that exists across our islands, we will unlock the new ideas and inventions that will help us secure our food chains and tackle climate change, delivering innovative solutions for global good.”
Katrina Godfrey, Permanent Secretary at Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, also attended this morning’s meeting.
“The Co-Centres programme is an excellent example of Government funders working in partnership to support researchers and industry who will undertake cutting-edge research in areas of mutual economic, societal, health and environmental importance,” she said.
“I am particularly pleased that researchers in Northern Ireland will be integral to the establishment of these Co-centres.”
The two new Co-Centres, which will formally open on January 1, 2024, will be funded to 2030.
Up to €40million in funding will come from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), with a further £17million from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and up to £12million from the British Government’s public body UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
The programme will be co-funded by industry, it was confirmed today