The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

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Better together: knowledge co-production for a sustainable society


Thursday, June 3, 2021, 09:00 - 13:00




Free online event: booking essential

Symposium exploring how the Irish research system can increase the impact of sustainability research through co-production of knowledge.

This symposium will explore how the Irish research system can respond to the demand for increased levels of collaboration and interaction amongst scientists, stakeholders and funders to co-produce knowledge and increase its use in decision-making and practice.

It will feature keynote addresses from international experts in transdisciplinary research:

  • Dr Christian Erik Pohl, Co-Director of the Transdisciplinarity Lab (TdLab) of the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich
  • Carthage Smith, Lead Co-ordinator of the OECD Global Science Forum

It will also include eight case study presentations on co-production with government departments, industry, NGOs and communities:

  • Brian Ó Gallachoir, University College Cork, Collaborative research for co-production of climate mitigation policy
  • Mary-Liz Walshe, Dublin City Council, Restoration of the River Camac, Dublin
  • Alison Hough, Athlone Institute of Technology and Mary Dobbs, Maynooth University, Cross-border co-production of environmental knowledge: a collaboration with civil society
  • Pilar Fernandez-Ibanez, Ulster University and Catalina Herrera, Centro de Ciencia y Tecnología de Antioquia, Colombia, SAFEWATER: Low-cost technologies for safe drinking water in developing regions
  • Nigel Scollan, Queen’s University Belfast, Food Futures: delivering environmental and sustainability agenda in agriculture and food
  • Ultan McCarthy, Waterford Institute of Technology, Eye-Q: an Intelligent optical freshness profiler
  • Niamh Moore-Cherry, University College Dublin, Mapping green Dublin
  • Ainhoa Gonzalez, University College Dublin, Measuring sustainable actions at community level: the Community SDG Dashboard

In advance of the event, we recommend reading the following discussion paper which gives an introduction to co-production and an overview of its use in environmental and sustainability research in Ireland.

Download the programme


Across the world, universities, research organisations, funding agencies, professional societies and national academies are striving to contribute to the knowledge needed to transition to a sustainable society. It is, however, increasingly recognised that for many intractable sustainability challenges, such as climate change or environmental resource management, additional scientific knowledge about the underlying problem may not be a key limiting factor in the development of more sustainable outcomes. A central challenge is to link the production of knowledge with actions that both meet human needs and preserve the planet's life-support systems. Aligning knowledge and action for global sustainability is essential to the human future; research on the interface between science and decision making necessitates continual engagement to spanning the boundaries between stakeholders and researchers. Co-production of research and knowledge may offer a powerful approach for crossing the “applicability gap” between scientists, professionals and policy makers.

Co-production of knowledge for sustainability

Co-production is an important emerging idea in the theory and practice of knowledge and governance for global sustainability. Co-production refers to the design and implementation of scientific research in true partnership with end-users so that scientific outputs are as useful as possible to those groups making decisions based on scientific findings. Its key insight that knowledge and action are interdependent reshapes how we think about the solutions for global environmental challenges. It recognises that a greater focus is needed on knowledge that can be used to alter social behaviours and societal arrangements to improve sustainability outcomes.

In the last decade, co-production how-to guides, webpages, handbooks and peer-reviewed articles have proliferated, and many funding calls now include requirements for scientist–stakeholder engagement and co-production. This symposium will explore how the Irish research system can respond to the demand for increased levels of collaboration and interaction amongst scientists, stakeholders and funders to co-produce knowledge and increase its use in policy, decision-making and practice.

This event is very timely given the need for evidence-based knowledge to facilitate a transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich and climate neutral economy and society in Ireland. The need for a close engagement between the Irish research community and stakeholders involved in implementing this transition has never been greater.

This event is organised by the RIA Climate Change and Environmental Sciences Committee in collaboration with Future Earth Ireland.

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Supported by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Environmental Research Institute.

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