Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity + Water officially launched

Deputy Director Ed Hawkins with Co-Directors Prof. Yvonne Buckley and Mark Emmerson at the launch.

The new Co-Centre will deliver solutions to the most pressing challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity decline and water degradation across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Over 100 researchers, industry leaders and policy partners from across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain are gathering for the first time to celebrate the Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity + Water today, where they will draw up project plans for integrated solutions to the most pressing common challenges of climate change, biodiversity decline and water degradation.

The €41.3 million Co-Centre, initially funded for six years by the Government of Ireland (Science Foundation Ireland and Shared Island Fund); the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs; and UK Research & Innovation. In addition, the project will also receive more than 30% co-funding from over 30 industry partners. The Co-Centre is a collaboration between Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, and University of Reading, UK.

The Co-Centre is one of the first international research centres to bring researchers across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain together at such scale. The Co-Centre is placed to address challenges around maintaining a stable and liveable climate, securing and restoring biodiversity and the ecosystem services provided by nature, adapting to climate change, and reversing water degradation, which require collaborative cross-border approaches.

Co-Director of the Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity + Water, Professor Yvonne Buckley, Trinity, said:

“This launch event serves as a timely call to action – for researchers, industries in all sectors, and those working across government, to come together to co-develop research projects that will help us find new ways to solve myriad climate, biodiversity and water challenges.

“Over the next six years the unique combination of disciplines, skills and implementation pathways linked to the Co-Centre will deliver societal impacts that stretch far into the future. It is the vision and commitment to this cause of the researchers, industry leaders and policy developers who are involved that will be key to tackling the challenges we face now and in the coming decades. We have an important two days ahead.”

Co-Director of the Co-Centre, Professor Mark Emmerson, Queen’s University Belfast, said:

“We need a step change in how we harness our collective resources to tackle challenges around sustainable agriculture and rural livelihoods, the impacts of new products and processes on our planetary life support systems, implementation of known solutions, and the development of effective new solutions that can be fairly and rapidly adopted across society.”

Deputy Director Professor Ed Hawkins, University of Reading, said:

“The challenges we face on these islands do not stop at lines on a map. The joint Ireland-UK Co-Centre is a much-needed opportunity to bring together research across borders on the risks from – and solutions to – the myriad of climate, biodiversity and water issues facing society.”

SFI’s Director of Science for the Economy, Dr Siobhán Roche, said:

“Today’s launch of the Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity + Water marks a significant step forward in collaboratively addressing one of the most critical challenges of our time. Together with our co-funders, we look forward to seeing the Co-Centre generate excellent research and innovation at scale over the next six years.”

Welcoming the launch of the Co-Centre, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Patrick O’Donovan, said:

Congratulations to all the academic, industry and funding partners involved in the Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity + Water. You are each playing an integral role in creating what promises to be an impactful research dynamism between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain over the next six years. The challenges posed by climate change require nothing less.”

Frances Wood, UKRI International Director, said:

“Today’s launch is a huge step forward in our joint efforts to tackle the pressing environmental issues we face. By merging solid research with active partnerships across academia, industry, and government, we’re laying the groundwork for significant breakthroughs that will positively impact both our communities and natural environments. The strong commitment from a large range of stakeholders shows how determined we are to build a resilient and sustainable future together to create real-world solutions for climate change, biodiversity loss, and water management.”

In an address shown at the launch, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir, said:

“Innovative collaborations such as this co-centre are crucial in tackling climate challenges on these islands and is another example of my department’s strong record of collaboration in research funding by working in partnership with public funders across the UK, Ireland and in the US. The climate + research programme will not only benefit government policy decision making but also industry, civil society groups, NGOs and every citizen on these islands.”

As part of the launch event, a major philanthropic gift of €1 million will be announced. This gift will fund a cross-jurisdictional PhD student programme, the “Sunflower Charitable Foundation PhD programme” supported by the Sunflower Charitable Foundation through Community Foundation Ireland.

As part of the opening, Professor Jane Stout, Vice President for Biodiversity and Climate Action at Trinity College Dublin, will chair the Business as usual is not an option discussion with Co-Centre Co-Directors, Prof. Yvonne Buckley and Prof. Mark Emmerson, and Deputy Director, Prof. Ed Hawkins.

On Day One research themes will be discussed by project leads. These themes include projections; monitoring; enabling fair transformations; evidence discovery and integration; sustainable agri-food transitions; sustainable communities and livelihoods; investing in carbon and nature. Industry leaders and policymakers will later network with research project leads.

On Day Two more detailed research projects will be developed, ready to kick into gear, after teams have formed the required connections.

Notes for Editors

Notes for Editors

Taken from the Queen’s University Belfast, School of Biological Sciences website. Queen’s University Belfast published this article here in May 2024. For further info, please contact Communications Officer Sian Devlin on

PublishedThursday May 2nd, 2024