"The National Geoscience Programme…describes a vision for the (sector's) future development and establishes a set of coherent priorities…"
The National Geoscience Programme, jointly published by the Royal Irish Academy and GSI, describes a vision for the future development of the geoscience sector and establishes a set of coherent priorities for the period of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2007-2013. Geoscience had been recognised in 2006 by Government as a priority area in its Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI). GSI has been encouraged to take a leading role in developing the geoscience sector and, in support of this, Government provided €43million in the NDP. This funding will be important for implementing the National Geoscience Programme.
Putting our knowledge of the Earth to work for Ireland: National Geoscience Programme (2007-2013) is the culmination of up to four years of planning and consultation involving the full spectrum of geoscience stakeholders. It reflects the growing coherence of the geoscience sector in Ireland and is set to form the blueprint guiding future investment in it. The sector is committed to providing information and knowledge to underpin economic, environmental and social progress across the country, taking account of the impact of climate change and the need for balanced regional development. The National Geoscience Programme will enhance and highlight the contribution that geoscience makes to Irish society through sustainable management of the environment, development of natural resources and infrastructure, and an improved understanding of natural hazards such as landslides and tsunamis.
In order for geoscience research in Ireland to become world-class, as foreseen in the National Geoscience Programme, it is necessary to build a critical mass of expertise and infrastructure at third level institutes. The Government approved the Griffith Geoscience Research Awards in 2007 as a proactive step towards achieving this. The contracts awarded in 2007 under this scheme tackle many of the key research priorities of the National Geoscience Programme, which can be summarised as follows:
- To explore the energy potential of the subsurface;
- To develop options for carbon storage in geological formations;
- To model the impact of climate change on groundwater;
- To complete inshore surveys in support of optimum use of the marine resource;
- To provide high-resolution assessment and monitoring of natural hazards;
- To develop databases to ensure aggregate resources are protected.
The sector is sufficiently coherent to ensure that new investment will nurture multidisciplinary world-class research capable of enhancing economic competitiveness and quality of life. The Programme has been developed on an all-island basis, involving Ireland and Northern Ireland, and will therefore build on the effective history of North-South collaboration in geoscience. Given appropriate investment, the sector will deliver:
- prioritised research which will have a better impact on the knowledge economy;
- better services to support national objectives in the environment, energy, marine and infrastructure sectors;
- higher participation rates in scientific research and education.
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