Delivering trusted and relevant knowledge to inform environmental policy: EPA announces €10 million Government of Ireland funding for new environmental research

Date released: February 11, 2020

The largest awards have been made to University College Cork and the National University of Ireland, Galway, for projects looking at: recyclable plastics for packaging; and, pesticide management for better water quality. Other awards include research on:

  • mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions through diversification of agriculture in Ireland;
  • effects of climate change on sea levels around the coast of Ireland;
  • impacts of climate change on health and wellbeing in Ireland;
  • impact of traffic emissions on air quality in Dublin;
  • radioactivity in the Irish coastal environment; and
  • greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions from uncontrolled burning in Irish upland areas.

Commenting on the announcement, Laura Burke, Director General, EPA, said,

“Over 100 proposals were received by the EPA Research Programme under EPA Research Calls in 2019 and we are happy to announce today that the most promising projects are now getting underway. Ireland is experiencing complex and systemic challenges which impact on our environment and, by extension, our health. High quality, policy-relevant research is essential to setting out sustainable and low-carbon transition pathways for our society, our ecosystems, and our economy.  It is also critical to informing good decision making.”

The EPA environmental research programme is a Government of Ireland initiative, funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment. The programme funds research that addresses important knowledge gaps about climate change, water quality, air quality, waste management, the circular economy, biodiversity, radiation and sustainable development and provides the evidence base to support high quality policy development and implementation in these areas.  Collaboration with other State organisations is a key feature of the programme.

Dr Alice Wemaere, EPA Research Manager, said,

“Through the EPA Research Programme, we have leveraged a high level of co-funding from various Departments and Agencies, giving an insight into the integrated nature of the environmental challenges facing us. The co-funding model nurtures an integrated, cross-sectoral approach and provides us with the opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with other organisations in addressing key environmental challenges.
“Co-funding is being provided by the Department of Transport, the Department of Agriculture, the Marine Institute, Met Eireann, the OPW, National Parks & Wildlife, and others. The outputs from these projects will provide an evidence base for credible environmental decision-making into the future and we will ensure that they are widely shared for implementation.”

Notes to Editor

EPA Research Website

Role of environmental research in policy implementation

EPA-funded research provides an evidence base to assist Ireland in meeting its requirements under national and international environmental commitments, such as the 2015 Paris Agreement, the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, the EU Clean Air Package, the Water Framework Directive, the National Biodiversity Action Plan, as well as in the delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Summary of Funding awarded in 2019

  • 28 new projects via the Annual 2019 Research Calls. These were awarded in the following areas: Water (3), Climate (12), Green Enterprise (5) and Sustainability (8);
  • 4 new projects from the 2018 Open Calls Reserve List (2 under climate and 2 under Water);
  • 12 PhDs under the Irish Research Council-EPA Scholarship Scheme;
  • 6 Co-funded PhDs under the 2019 EPA Cofunded Scholarship Scheme; 
  • 4 projects funded under the 2018/19 BiodivERsA transnational call on climate & health;
  • 1 project funded under the 2019 AXIS transnational call on sectoral impacts of climate change; 
  • 4 projects funded under the 2018 Water JPI Joint Call on sustainable water management; and
  • 7 new projects funded as part of the ESRI Research Programme.

Participation in European Research

In 2019, the EPA also supported Irish environmental researchers in securing over €7million in EU Horizon 2020 funding under the Societal Challenge 5 Climate with 19 Irish researchers participating in 9 successful consortia. This funding is for environmental research in areas embracing climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials.

Applying under EPA Research Calls

EPA Research Calls are open to all types of organisations, within and outside Ireland. To apply for EPA funding, researchers must be registered on the EPA’s online Grant Application and project Management system. Research Proposals must be submitted in response to one of the topics included in the Call Descriptions. Further details about the EPA Research Programme are available on the EPA website.