Researchers from NUI Galway have launched the ‘SHEER’ (Socio-economic, health, Environmental Research) project, an Irish case study designed to integrate three broad strands of environmental, health and socio-economic data to investigate the complex and all important links between our environment, our health and wellbeing and our socio-economic status in Ireland. Led by the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, and partnering with the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and the HSE, the €175,000 SHEER project will emphasise how important, and powerful data from different domains is, to decision making, policy development and the very quality of our lives. The pioneering project will deliver a case study and a clear road map for the future direction of our environment, our health and our wellbeing in Ireland.
The SHEER project is responding to the European Economic Area (EEA) call for Ireland to be a case study in their 2019 Environment, Health and Wellbeing report. The primary aim of this Environmental Protection Agency funded Irish case study is to complement the EEA’s broad assessment of a healthy environment and to explore possible impact in greater national, regional and local depth through data analytics, visualisation and mapping the key socio-economic, environmental and health forces and patterns at work in relation to water quality and access to blue/green spaces in Ireland.
Building upon ongoing work examining blue/green spaces from the Near Health project at NUI Galway, SHEER will improve people’s understanding of the impacts environments such as ‘water quality’ and ‘blue/green spaces’ can have on health and wellbeing. It will also develop and foster a network of diverse stakeholders such as public health, social science, environmental researchers from across Ireland involved in such pioneering multi-disciplinary work, and create a legacy that will advance this field across Ireland.
Dr Christine Domegan, Head of Marketing Discipline and Social Innovation cluster leader at the Whitaker Institute in NUI Galway, and leader of the SHEER project, said: “Over the last ten years we’ve contributed to a growing body of evidence that shows human health and a healthy environment are inextricably linked (WHO EURO EH, 2017; EEA, 2014, EPA Strategic Plan, 2016–2020 and Healthy Ireland, 2013-2025). However, without a multi-causal and coordinated approach to data, it is difficult to develop these findings further and use them to inform policies. SHEER will help us to link different datasets together, emphasising how important it is to connect national data to regional and local issues.” This goal is achieved through a work programme gathering extensive information from diverse databases and stakeholders to provide insights and a baseline of evidence synthesis from three largely disparate domains, environmental, health and social sciences. SHEER is designed to deliver national and European benefits to science, policy and civil society while significantly helping to achieve the Environmental Protection Agency’s Strategic Plan for 2016–2020, ‘Our Environment, Our Wellbeing’ and progress the Government’s Framework for improved health and wellbeing 2013-2025 initiative, ‘Healthy Ireland’.