UCC leads new €3.9m Sustainable Futures project

26 Apr 2022
Professor Sarah Culloty, Head, College of Science, Engineering and Food Science; Dr Orla Flynn, President, ATU; Kevin Marshall, Head of Education, Microsoft Ireland; Professor John O'Halloran, President, UCC; Dr Marguerite Nyhan, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Engineering & Future Sustainability, UCC; Professor Brian Donnellan, Vice President Research and Innovation, Maynooth University. Photo: Gerard McCarthy Photography.

A landmark new nationally-coordinated initiative spearheaded by UCC is bringing together higher education and multiple industry and enterprise partners to drive climate action and environmental sustainability through new educational programmes.

A growing number of enterprises require a skilled workforce who are knowledgeable in sustainability and decarbonisation, and who can place climate concerns at the heart of strategy, operations, and decision-making while at the same time maximising employment provision and profitability.

The Sustainable Futures project - led by University College Cork in partnership with Maynooth University and Atlantic Technological University - aims to empower industry and enterprise to not only meet their new legal requirements in transitioning to a net zero and nature-positive future, but to see new opportunities while meeting Ireland’s climate challenges.

A range of new postgraduate programmes, including a flagship Masters in Sustainability in Enterprise, have been developed, aimed at university graduates from all disciplines, industry staff, and current and aspiring leaders looking to develop their capacity to drive the industry and business response to sustainability challenges. New executive education and continuing professional development courses will also be developed, aimed at professionals across all sectors who wish to enhance their skills to deliver on all aspects of sustainability within enterprise.


The Sustainable Futures project was recently awarded €3,913,440 under the Higher Education Authority’s Human Capital Initiative. The project brings together higher education and multiple enterprise partners to co-develop educational programmes focused on sustainability, decarbonisation, circular economy and business leadership.

UCC has also launched a new Sustainable Futures Lab which is a new collaborative space for co-innovating solutions for a sustainable, net zero and nature positive future.

Project lead Dr Marguerite Nyhan, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering & Future Sustainability in UCC’s School of Engineering & Architecture and the Environmental Research Institute (ERI), said sustainability is a complex problem that requires a complex solution.

“The Government’s Climate Action Plan proposes major national carbon emissions reduction targets. As such, there has never been a more urgent time to create leaders in environmental sustainability in industry, enterprise, business, and broader society who will drive the transition to a net zero future".

Professor John O’Halloran, President of UCC and member of the Sustainable Futures team, said:

“We are delighted to work with our partner universities in Atlantic Technological University and Maynooth University on this unique, collaborative project, which builds on the strength of UCC’s success in driving sustainability. The transition to a more sustainable, zero-carbon business model will require an interdisciplinary approach, and this programme will equip graduates with the skills required to lead this transition”.

Prof Sarah Culloty, ERI Director and Head of the College of Science, Engineering, and Food Science (SEFS) said:

This inter-disciplinary, inter-institutional project is particularly suited to addressing the complex challenges of the transition to a low carbon economy. We hope it will benefit a wide range of industry sectors”.

College of Science, Engineering and Food Science

Coláiste na hEolaíochta, na hInnealtóireachta agus na hEolaíochta Bia

Block E, Level 3, Food Science Building, UCC, Cork, T12 YN60.