TU Dublin Researcher Dr Nigel Vahey Awarded EPA Funding for Project Aiming to Connect Farmers and Policymakers on Climate Change

Published: 22 Feb, 2024

Dr Nigel Vahey, a lecturer in psychology at the School of Social Sciences, Law and Education, has received Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for a project aiming to connect farmers and policymakers to collaborate more effectively with each other on climate change.

Dr Vahey is the Co-Principal Investigator on the project with UCD's Prof. Louise McHugh, which has secured €598,355 in research funding from the EPA. This four-year research project is called 'Sow what?': Connecting Farmers and Policy Makers on Climate Change. It aims to develop communication tools that will help farmers and policymakers to collaborate more effectively with each other in managing the many dilemmas that climate change poses for agriculture and society more broadly. 

The project brings together a team of Psychologists, Agricultural Scientists, Farmers, Farming support workers, and Agricultural advisors that will develop communication tools enabling farmers, agricultural advisors and policymakers to better understand each other's needs and dilemmas about 'The European Green Deal'. 

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Nigel Vahey said, "Recent research has shown that many Irish farmers are highly sceptical of governmental climate change policies and initiatives because they feel scapegoated and excluded by these reforms. Therefore, the 'Sow what?' research project will focus on identifying cost-effective ways of cultivating pragmatic trust and cooperation between farmers and policymakers about climate change reforms within Irish farming.

To this end, the 'Sow what?' project will initially involve a staggered nationwide rollout of interviews, focus groups and surveys with the key stakeholders. The resulting insights will be used to systematically adapt and evaluate established motivational interviewing techniques to equip farmers, agricultural advisors, and policymakers to communicate with each other more effectively and to proactively troubleshoot climate change dilemmas together in ways that are both sustainable and also faithful to their core values."

Read the full EPA announcement here.