Funding has been announced from the UK and Ireland to create research centres for collaboration on addressing food sustainability and climate change.
The €70m in funding will involve academics, industry and policymakers across the Irish, UK and Northern Ireland (NI) government departments collaborating on these challenges.
The announcement was jointly made by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, and UK Secretary of State Michelle Donelan following the British and Irish intergovernmental conference at Farmleigh House, Dublin, yesterday (Tuesday, November 28).
The two new research centres that will arise from this funding were welcomed by Minister Harris, who said the investment “is a major development” in addressing the “pressing issues” of “climate change and achieving sustainable and resilient food systems”.
The co-centres programme is funded over six years, with €40 million from Science Foundation Ireland, £17 million from NI’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and £12 million through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Independent TD for Laois Offaly, Carol Nolan, has said she welcomes the announcement of €70 million in joint funding to create two new research centres: the co-centre for sustainable and resilient food systems and the co-centre for climate and biodiversity and water.
However, Deputy Nolan went on to state that research from the co-centre for sustainable and resilient food systems must place the experience and expertise of farmers and producers at the core of its work.
“As a rural TD I am also concerned to emphasise that the research process must be open to actually listening to farmers and producers around what it takes to maintain food security in the real world.
“It must work with them and not seek to impose academic models on them,” she added.
The government of Ireland and the UK government discussed bilateral cooperation in a range of sectors with a particular focus on collaboration in research and innovation.
The conference agreed particularly that there should be a focus on the rollout of the first research co-centres in the areas of climate and sustainable and resilient food systems.
The vision of the co-centre for climate, biodiversity and water is to be a home of research, innovation, and policy development across the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and water degradation, and its 64 researchers across 14 organisations will be at the centre of this.
The aim of the co-centre for sustainable and resilient food systems, which will have 68 researchers in 15 organisations, is to develop solutions to transition the food system for positive and sustainable change in the transition to climate-neutrality by 2050.
The two new co-centres will formally commence activities on January 1, 2024, and will be funded to 2030. It was agreed that the conference would meet again in Spring 2024.