Latest Socio-economics reports

in: Research
Research 445

Research 445: Transboundary Adaptation Learning Exchange: Policy and Practice

Authors: Denise McCullagh, Anna Beswick, Stephen Jones, Jane McCullough and Jeremy Gault, December 2023

Year: 2023

The need for transformational climate adaptation that moves beyond the business-as-usual approach currently employed by a large majority of governments is becoming increasingly evident as the environmental, social and economic benefits of early and proactive adaptation are observed. The pressures of climate change require society-wide ownership of adaptation. However, for this to happen, all voices need to be represented in decision-making throughout the adaptation process. An assessment of the national climate adaptation policies of the five jurisdictions of Ireland and the UK was conducted to identify barriers and enabling conditions for adaptation in each of the jurisdictions.

Research 441

Research 441: Irish Natural Capital Accounting for Sustainable Environments (INCASE)

Authors: Jane C. Stout, Catherine A. Farrell, Mary Kelly-Quinn, Lisa Coleman,Stephen Kinsella, Cathal O’Donoghue, Daniel Norton, Carl Obst, Mark Eigenraam,Fiona Smith, Iseult Sheehy and Sarah Zimmermann., November 2023

Year: 2023

Nature continues to be degraded globally. Despite our societies and economies depending on it, we often ignore or undervalue this degradation. To bring nature into everyday decision-making, the natural capital approach deliberately uses the language of business and economics. In this context, nature can be thought of as an array of stocks of natural assets, incorporating biodiversity, air, water and geology. The condition of these stocks influences the flow of goods and services, and the benefits that our societies and economies derive from these assets. This EPA Research Report provides insights into the development of natural capital accounts at the catchment scale in Ireland. It aims to provide a comprehensive view of the stocks of natural capital assets and the flows of services, along with guidance on how to scale-up the process to national level.

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Research 409: Co-designing for Resilience in Rural Development through Peer-to-peer Learning Networks and STEAM Place-based Learning Interventions

Authors: Anita McKeown, Lucy Hunt, James Murphy, Eleanor Turner and Rebecca White, May 2022

Year: 2022

The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development require governments to take ownership and establish frameworks for the achievement of the 17 global goals. Ireland has mapped existing policies and programmes against each of the 169 SDG sub targets, setting out a roadmap for achieving the goals. CoDesRes developed and explored a series of proof-of-concept methods and from this created two toolkits. As interventions, the toolkits (community peer-to-peer learning and place-based STEAM education) localise the implementation of the SDGs and offer insights into adaptive opportunities to engage the public.

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Research 408: Sustainable Production and Consumption: The Influence of Social Norms

Authors: Gideon Fadiran and Stephen Onakuse, May 2022

Year: 2022

Consumer behaviour represents acts or decisions that influence the direction of production and consumption activities, which are, in turn, driven by household and, ultimately, economic activities. This research investigated the linkages between habits and norms that drive behavioural attitudes and preferences, and how consumers’ socio-economic background, community, beliefs, etc. are identified as the driving factors of consumer behaviour and waste patterns.

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Research 392: Guidance on Strategic Environmental Assessment–Environmental Impact Assessment Tiering

Authors: Riki Thérivel and Ainhoa González Del Campo, September 2021

Year: 2021

This Guidance on SEA-EIA Tiering aims to improve the links between SEA and EIA, using a range of good practice examples. It focuses on improving communication between SEA and EIA: getting SEA practitioners to write SEAs with EIAs in mind, and EIA practitioners to refer to SEAs in their EIA Reports. It also identifies institutional issues that can set a context which restricts tiering, including ‘silo assessment’, lack of training, and restrictive legal requirements.

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Research 391: Tiering of Environmental Assessment – The Influence of Strategic Environmental Assessment on Project-level Environmental Impact Assessment

Authors: Ainhoa González Del Campo, Riki Thérivel and Keletso Malepe, September 2021

Year: 2021

Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) aim to identify and mitigate environmental impacts resulting from the implementation of plans and programmes before they are adopted. This research was based on a literature review, interviews with 28 international and Irish experts, and a review of 19 Irish case studies. The research identified a range of good practice approaches to impact assessment tiering, which can be summarised as better communication between SEA and EIA practitioners.

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Research 374: Piloting Innovative Approaches in Sustainable Communities towards Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Ireland

Authors: Vincent Carragher and Hugh O’Reilly, May 2021

Year: 2021

This study set out to catalyse the sustainability transition of communities using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. The research had a branded, public-facing campaign, Spark Change (, which recruited communities to an SDG challenge, effectively asking and supporting them to progress their sustainability transition and related SDG actions.

Research 363

Research 363: No Home for Plastic

Authors: Abigail O’Callaghan-Platt and Mindy O’Brien, January 2021

Year: 2021

Plastic has become a ubiquitous material globally. Research quantifying the amount of plastic in the environment has prompted calls for action to tackle the use of this problem material. Aiming to reduce individual plastic consumption, this research revealed practical barriers to behaviour change including a lack of easy access to plastic-free options, the cost of plastic-free shopping and a lack of information on plastic-free options.

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Research 355: Sensing Our World: How Digital Cultural Practices Can Contribute to Changing Social Norms Around Consumption

Author: Trish Morgan, November 2020

Year: 2020

This research project assesses the potential for novel cultural practices to communicate environmental data and issues to the public in Ireland against the backdrop of local and international environmental pressures. It makes recommendations towards developing solutions to the communication of environmental data to publics and developed a solution in the form of an online database of novel cultural practices.

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Research 351: Identifying “What Matters” for Community Wellbeing with the Irish Public Participation Networks

Author: Simon O’Rafferty, October 2020

Year: 2020

The Public Participation Networks (PPNs) were established through the 2014 Local Government Reform Act in order to “provide a mechanism by which citizens can have a greater say in local government decisions which affect their own communities”. This report presents the findings from an action research project in which a toolkit to develop visions of community wellbeing was co-designed with four PPNs.

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Research 336: Charting Ireland’s Sustainable Future: Innovative Approaches towards Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Enterprises

Authors: Colm Gaskin, Ken Stockil, Niall Keely and Myles Kingston, August 2020

Year: 2020

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call for change – a change to how we live, work, think and interact, both with each other and with our environment, to protect and secure our future and the future of the planet. This report captures the key recurring themes from Ireland’s engagement to date with the seven environmental SDGs and its role in supporting the private sector to deliver impactful contributions to these SDGs.

Research 334

Research 334: Sustainable Voluntary Communities: Support for Sustainable Environmental, Social and Economic Development

Authors: Bernadette O’Regan, Richard Moles, Rosemary Byrne and Anne Bennett, August 2020

Year: 2020

The need to involve voluntary communities at local level in the implementation of successful sustainable development programmes to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is widely recognised. This research identified 36 Irish communities that were, or were actively planning to be, involved in local-scale action to enhance sustainability. Six of the 36 were selected for this research project.

Research 316

Research 316: Environmental Outcomes from Licence Enforcement Activity

Authors: Bernadette Power, Ellen O’ Connor, John Eakins, Celine McInerney, Stig Hellebust and Timothy Sullivan, May 2020

Year: 2020

The ultimate objective of environmental regulation is the prevention and reduction of environmental harm from pollution, habitat loss and resource depletion. The findings from this research provide an update of current practices and recent changes introduced in some jurisdictions.

Research 311

Research 311: Behavioural Change Tools to Promote Going Beyond Compliance in the Regulated Community

Authors: Niall Keely, Myles Kingston and Ken Stockil, April 2020

Year: 2020

The environmental compliance and enforcement landscape has evolved significantly over the last number of decades, with policy and legislation serving as a key driver. The nuances and complexities of compliance and enforcement have also evolved, as they now require a better understanding of the barriers and challenges, drivers and incentives, and the behavioural and contextual factors at play among regulated communities.

Research 290

Research 290: Environmental Policy Integration: Innovation and Change

Authors: Brendan Flynn and Pádraic Ó hUiginn, September 2019

Year: 2019

The EPIIC (Environmental Policy Integration: Innovation and Change) project explored the relevance of environmental policy integration (EPI) for Irish environmental governance. EPI involves bringing environmental concerns into all other policy sectors, notably into agriculture, energy and transport.

Research 283

Research 283: Beyond Neoliberalism; Values and Sustainable Consumption Behaviour.

Authors: Dr Vivienne Byers and Dr Alan Gilmer, August 2019

Year: 2019

This desktop research project explores ways to advance understanding of the values and motivations that influence sustainable consumption behaviour in Irish society.

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Research 280: Developing the Potential of Third-level Campuses as Change Agents in Transition towards Sustainable Communities

Authors: Bernadette O’Regan, Richard Moles, Rachel Shawe and William Horan, June 2019

Year: 2019

In relation to experimentation with, and demonstration of, novel management approaches and technologies designed to enhance sustainability, higher education institution (HEI) campuses have been identified as ideal testing grounds, as they embrace a diverse population and act as a microcosm of wider society, and control space for demonstration projects.

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Research 245: Designing Interventions for Sustainable Behaviour Change in Business and Communities

Author: Simon O’Rafferty, May 2018

Year: 2018

Sustainable consumption and production demands behaviour changes. Policymakers and regulators already apply a range of interventions and incentives with a view to changing individual and organisational behaviour. This includes fiscal incentives, subsidies, pricing mechanisms and market-based instruments, standards, eco-labels and communication, business support programmes and curriculum development.

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Research 238: Identifying, Reviewing and Testing the Factors that Drive the Sustainable Behaviour and Transition of Communities, Groups and Individuals

Authors: Vincent Carragher and Sarah McCormack, February 2018

Year: 2018

This research critically reviewed community interventions and sustainable-behaviour change programmes identifying drivers (enablers) adopted by those interventions. The aim was to distinguish key characteristics of success while also identifying barriers to sustainable transition and change.

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Research 237: Integrated Indicators for Ireland: Adjusting Economic Progress for Environmental and Social Sustainability (I3: AEPESS)

Authors: Eleanor Doyle and Mauricio Perez-Alaniz, January 2018

Year: 2018

Decoupling economic growth from environmental quality is an imperative for Ireland, as with other modern developed economies. Not only has economic growth been linked with environmental sustainability impacts, but more recently social sustainability has also been highlighted in terms of its relationship to, and impacts from, the economy.