Monday 10 December 2018

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Cork Independent

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UCC to invest €44m in environmental research projects

Wednesday, 6th December, 2017 5:53pm

UCC is to commit over €44 million to environmental research projects in the coming three years, it was revealed this week.

The Environmental Research Institute (ERI), a flagship research institute at University College Cork, launched its new Strategic Plan 2018-2022 on Monday.

More than 300 researchers are currently engaged in ERI projects that are aiming to address climate change, support the development of a circular economy, and maintain a healthy environment.

While Ireland faces significant challenges to meet EU targets and global agreements in relation to energy, climate change, biodiversity and sustainability, there are opportunities too for Irish businesses to develop new technologies and services to help the transition to a zero carbon and resource efficient society.

The ERI comprises of interdisciplinary experts in environmental, energy, sustainable food, marine and sustainable materials research across all of UCC’s schools and departments as well as affiliated research centres.

The ERI’s strategy for 2018 to 2022 aims to provide the necessary research and knowledge base to address our current environmental challenges.

Speaking at the launch of the ERI Strategic Plan, ERI Director Professor Sarah Culloty said: “Our economies are approaching ecological limits, and we are already experiencing some of the constraints of operating outside planetary boundaries in areas such as climate change, biodiversity loss and resource depletion. We need to find new ways to reconcile our high levels of human development with environmental sustainability.

“Research holds the key to unlocking these major problems in very informed, practical and comprehensive ways, and we see the ERI playing a critical role in this regard. A key element of the strategic plan is working in partnership with local government, policy makers, civic society organisations and the public to co-create solutions that will ensure that our natural environment can be used sustainably to meet all our needs while providing a healthy living space.”

“We are excited about a number of flagship projects at UCC’s ERI,” said Prof. Anita Maguire, Vice President for Research & Innovation at UCC. “From wave energy devices, to production of high-value materials and energy from waste, to protecting the quality of the air in our cities and towns, to working with the United Nations to develop training programmes to assess water quality, the ERI is building capacity in Ireland to address the many environmental challenges we currently face.”

The ERI Strategic Plan 2018–2022 outlines a number of objectives and targets for the organisation to grow its capacity and increase the impact of it research across all economic sectors, and society in the coming five years, under the leadership of Director of ERI Professor Sarah Culloty and the team at ERI.

Within the 2018-2022 strategic plan, the ERI will use a challenge-based approach to address three core environmental challenges:

· Climate action: Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity. The transition to zero carbon and climate resilient societies as committed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement is now underway. This challenge is focused on understanding, responding, adapting and living with climate change.

· Circular economy: A shift from a ‘take-make-consume’ to a closed-loop economy where resources are kept in use for as long as possible is now an imperative for society and economy. This challenge is focused on producing food and goods in a closed-loop approach with minimal or no waste.

· Healthy environment: Our economic prosperity and well-being is underpinned by the quality of our environment and natural capital. This challenge is focused on protecting our natural ecosystems and providing a healthy environment for humans to live in.

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