Civil and Environmental Engineering - Reports

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    The sustainability transformation: assessing the readiness of Irish businesses
    (University College Cork and Microsoft, 2022-11) Nyhan, Marguerite M.; Fitzgerald , Tanya; Microsoft
    The climate emergency is compelling enterprises to change their practices. Climate change is one of humanity's most urgent challenges, and this decade will be extremely important in terms of setting the world on a path to a sustainable and net zero future. Climate change is adversely impacting on the environment globally, with major implications for society. Rising sea levels, increasing temperatures and severe weather events are consequences of our changing climate. All of these pose a risk to society by impacting on our health, economies, infrastructure and biodiversity. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2021) highlights that the primary cause of global warming is greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities and climate change will only get worse if these emissions keep increasing over time. Global warming needs to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels to mitigate the continuation and intensification of these catastrophic impacts. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call to action to secure a sustainable and better future for everyone (UNDESA, 2022). Adopted by the United Nations in 2015, the SDGs outline 'a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future' recognising that nations must focus on issues such as human rights, improving health and education, reducing inequality and tackling climate change in addition to the pursuit of economic prosperity. As such, businesses will have a major part to play in achieving the SDGs and their targets, as governments around the globe develop and implement directives in line with these goals. Concerns over environmental sustainability and a growing public and consumer awareness of climate change are pushing businesses to place sustainability and decarbonisation at the centre of their business strategy, operations and decision-making. Organisations must break away from "business as usual" approach to adopt sustainable practices that equally consider the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainability.
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    The promise of digital health: addressing non-communicable diseases to accelerate universal health coverage in LMICs
    (Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, 2018-09) Nyhan, Marguerite M.
    Digital health solutions promise to change the way healthcare is provided, driving progress toward universal health coverage and transforming outcomes for patients with NCDs Worldwide, non-communicable diseases (nCDs) are responsible for more deaths than any other disease Non-communicable diseases account for approximately 70% of deaths worldwide, of which three-quarters occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).1 Funding for tackling NCDs is low compared to other diseases and preventive measures in particular would have a significant impact.2 To combat nCDs, we need to transform the way healthcare is provided and expand access to all. Without properly addressing nCDs, universal health coverage (UHC), a target of sustainable Development Goal (sDG) 3, cannot be achieved Health systems must move toward universal health coverage and shift… • from facility-based care to communitybased care with a focus on increasing health system capacity and efficiency • from episodic, curative care to longterm, continuous care to institute a people-centered focus with improved access • from reactive care to proactive, preventive care featuring forwardlooking health management with improved transparency Digital health can help make these shifts possible Digital health encompasses the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in all their forms for health. This includes electronic health records showing patients’ health histories, mobile apps designed to raise awareness about diseases and internetconnected devices such as those that allow doctors to monitor patients’ blood glucose levels remotely. What these technologies have in common is that they can fundamentally change the cost-quality equation of healthcare and empower patients, health providers, governments, and other stakeholders with the information and tools they need to manage their own health, deliver better care and strengthen the underlying health system, thereby radically expanding access and improving outcomes. Investing in digital health to strengthen entire health systems can accelerate efforts to combat NCDs, and by the same token, investing in digital health specifically to combat NCDs can have wider health system benefits. Ultimately, digital health is a catalyst in transforming how healthcare is delivered and experienced, as it allows LMICs to move from disease silos in healthcare to an integrated, resilient health system. Digital technology is driving innovation in healthcare, especially in LMICs Unmet health needs driven by a lack of health infrastructure and trained health workers, widespread mobile penetration and relatively open regulatory environments make LMICs fertile ground for innovation. And with fewer entrenched, legacy systems to overcome, countries have an opportunity to “leapfrog” and adopt newer solutions faster. Digital health should be considered an essential part of the healthcare system, just as medical equipment or hospital beds are. The results so far are encouraging A few studies have evaluated the impacts of digital health, ranging from patientlevel results like reduced blood glucose levels to system-level results such as improved access to services and cost savings. In Canada, for example, the cumulative benefits of investing in digital health were estimated at around CAD$16 billion over the course of nine years.3 The results so far are encouraging and could be used to drive further investment and scaling of digital health solutions. To maximize the impact of digital health on nCDs in order to accelerate the achievement of UHC, solutions have to be financially sustainable Many digital health solutions are launched as pilots and are often not designed for scale and sustainability. This can lead to a fragmented, uncoordinated landscape of standalone initiatives. The simplest solutions – namely those designed with the needs of the end user in mind, that use existing technologies and are integrated in the existing health system, and which are widely available in the context – have the highest chances of being scalable and sustainable. This is demonstrated, for example, by the national scaling of telemedicine services in Ghana. This report provides examples, insights and recommendations for greater sustainability in digital health.
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    Baseline Emissions Inventory: part of the Cork City Council Climate Action Plan 2024-2029
    (University College Cork and Cork City Council, 2023-04) O’Regan, Anna; Purcell, Lily; McGookin, Connor; Nyhan, Marguerite M.; Cork City Council
    Under Ireland’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, each local authority has been mandated to develop Climate Action Plans addressing both mitigation and adaptation measures. Local Authority Climate Action Plans are expected to further enhance local authorities’ ability to lead, engage, coordinate, and become agents of change in response to the ongoing climate change crisis. To inform those efforts, this report describes the modelling and spatial mapping of Cork City’s baseline GHG emissions for the base year of 2018. It provides a summary of emissions modelled across the six sectors. These include households; road transport; commercial services & industry; public services; agriculture, land use, land use change, forestry & fishing; and waste handling & treatment.
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    Connecting people to Climate Change Action: informing participatory frameworks for the National Dialogue on Climate Action (C-CHANGE)
    (Environmental Protection Agency, 2022) Nyhan, Marguerite M.; O'Dwyer, Barry; Jerez Columbié, Yairen; Environmental Protection Agency
    Ireland has committed to becoming a net-zero and climate-neutral economy by 2050. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act set this ambition in legislation, while the Climate Action Plan defines the pathway to achieve it. For Ireland to make this transition, a society-wide collaborative effort is required by government, business, communities and individuals. Thus, the National Dialogue on Climate Action (NDCA) aims to engage stakeholders and the public with climate action across Ireland by enabling and empowering people. The NDCA is delivered through three main pillars: (i) improving climate literacy, awareness and understanding; (ii) providing funding and support for active public engagement in climate action at local and national levels; and (iii) conducting social and behavioural research connected to the Climate Action Plan and climate policies in Ireland. The EPA-funded Connecting People to Climate Change Action: Informing Participatory Frameworks for the National Dialogue on Climate Action (C-CHANGE) project aimed to improve our understanding of environmental participation to specifically support the implementation of the NDCA and future environmental and climate dialogues in Ireland. C-CHANGE also aimed to support public participation in climate action across Europe by informing the European Climate Pact. This report presents the results of the C-CHANGE project, which (i) synthesised national and international best practice for facilitating participation in environmental and climate action, and (ii) assessed the NDCA in order to provide guidelines for supporting long-lasting participation in environmental and climate dialogues. Chapter 1 of this report sets the NDCA in the context of the wider landscape of climate action in Ireland and Europe and details the research objectives and methodology. It also situates both the NDCA and the research outputs within action for climate empowerment (ACE) and the guidelines from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for accelerating climate solutions through education, training and public awareness. Chapter 2 discusses existing research and empirical evidence highlighting the need for intersectional and interdisciplinary approaches to participatory climate action and climate justice. It describes the European policy landscape for public participation in climate action, and draws lessons from the Irish Citizens’ Assembly, to inform the longitudinal assessment of the NDCA. Chapter 3 presents the longitudinal assessment of the NDCA process and discusses the results of critically analysing, comparing and contrasting the qualitative information collected from focus group sessions, surveys, interviews and documentary research. Lastly, Chapter 4 describes the research findings in relation to impact indicators and guidelines to support future environmental and climate dialogues in Ireland. The process of co-assessing the NDCA with participants and organisers, while considering the literature on best practice in environmental participation, ensured that the impact indicators and guidelines will best support future environmental and climate dialogues. This report’s final sections detail how the findings will directly inform the design, implementation and assessment of participatory processes for climate action and climate justice in Ireland.
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    Creative C-Change: analysing the impact of the Creative Climate Action Initiative on climate change awareness, engagement & action in Ireland. Creative Ireland.
    (Creative C-Change, 2023) Nyhan, Marguerite M.; Revez, Alexandra; MacMahon, Joanne; Burke, Michelle; Hogan, Padraig; Creative Ireland
    This Creative C-Change report presents key insights and learnings from the MaREI Centre for Energy, Climate & Marine and the Future Sustainability Research Group's engagement with five Creative Ireland-funded Creative Climate Action projects. The five selected projects were Crumlin Taking Action Together, Field Exchange, Kinship, Línte na Farraige and Repair Acts. The overarching aim of the research was to capture the impact of these arts, cultural and creative projects and their events on climate change awareness, engagement and action in Ireland. The research team attended 65 Creative Climate Action events in 2022 and 2023. Data was collected through over 300 surveys, 19 interviews, 30 participant observations, 12 artist reflections and 2 workshops. In this research, we found that the Creative Climate Action events had a significant impact on audience members and participants in terms of increased awareness, positive engagement and motivation to act in relation to climate change. It was observed that the Creative Climate Action experiences provided new ways of engaging and new spaces for connecting and communicating in relation to the environment and climate change. Over 90% of audiences and participants agreed or strongly agreed that "the arts/ creative community has a role to play in addressing climate change" and that "artistic/ creative events can inspire people to take positive environmental action". The Creative Climate Action experiences enhanced connection with the natural environmental and motivated and empowered participants to act in relation to climate change. For example, 70% felt "empowered to take climate action" while 74% planned to take climate action or make changes to their behaviour or lifestyle. The experiences provided a sense of community as well as a sense of place and evoked positive emotional responses in relation to climate action. It was also observed that the unique processes and insights of artists enhanced communication and fostered change. Reflections from the artists included that the Creative Climate Action experiences created a safe space for enhanced climate change communication. The experiences enabled participants to approach climate change in new and proactive ways facilitated by the unique knowledge, perspectives and creative practices of artists. It was also noted that site-specific contexts enhanced a sense of place and engagement with indigenous issues, as well as sustainability and climate action solutions and community connectedness. Finally, the experiences enhanced bottom-up activism and empowerment in relation to climate action. Based on our research, it is evident that the Creative Climate Action projects had a profound impact on both audiences and artists in terms of increased awareness, engagement and action in relation to the environment and climate change. Our findings demonstrate that the arts and creative communities can play an extremely valuable role in enabling dialogue and engaging audiences in new perspectives and action on climate change. With the urgency of climate change, it is essential to recognise the significant potential of the arts and cultural sector in fostering new and alternative responses to climate change action.