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Seminar: Local Actions for the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs)

Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL) and University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland are delighted to co-organise an event with the EU-LAC Foundation on issues of relevance to the bi-regional association and aimed at contributing to the Foundation’s mandate in the priority area of Sustainable Development and Climate Change.

University communities and local partner organisations, students, and staff from Colombia, Caribbean states and Ireland will gather in UNAL’s Caribe Campus & UNAL’s Bogota Campus for workshops and an innovation challenge to apply SDGs to community-university partnerships.

EU LAC Foundation, UNAL and UCC also join forces with partner organisations CEMARIN, ASCUN, UPB, OBREAL Global, GOAL, MAREI, TRAJECTS to work together to foster innovative contributions to climate action in the Caribbean.

Welcome Remarks

Professor Camilo Younes
Vicepresident of Research

Professor John O'Halloran
President of University College Cork

Fiona Nic Dhonnacha
Ambassador of Ireland to Colombia

Adrian Bonilla
Executive Director EU-LAC Foundation

Ambassador of Colombia to Ireland
Patricia Cortes

Keynote speaker

Bernard McCaul

Deputy Director of Programme Design and Innovation and Regional Director for LAC and Central America

In Latin America he led the development of GOAL’s Urban Resilience, Blue Economy and Humanitarian Leadership programmes. 

He was lead author of GOAL’s Analysis of Resilience of Communities to Disaster, and Resilience for Social Systems Approaches. Experienced in developing and delivering large public private partnerships, primarily in the water services sector Bernard is a trained advocate in systems thinking for development.

Workshop Leaders

Dr. John Barimo

Workshop:  Open-Source Resources to Catalyse the Integration of Sustainability into Your Curriculum

Engaged Research Officer at University College Cork in support of the UNIC European University of Post-Industrial Cities with the aim of improving, understanding or investigating issues of public interest or concern which includes societal or global challenges. He also led the co-creation a pan-disciplinary SDG Toolkit and conducted a series of professional development workshops to support teaching staff with the integration of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals across the UCC curricula.

John holds a M.Sc. from Virginia Commonwealth University in Biology and Ph.D. from the University of Miami (USA) in Marine Biology & Fisheries. John’s scientific research was centred around physiological ecology which interests in biotic interactions and environmental toxicology. His professional career spans academics, governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations and private industry which includes civil service within the US National Marine Sanctuary Programme.


Dr. Gerard Mullally

Workshop: Imagining 2050 Workshop

Gerard (Ger) Mullally is a lecturer and Deputy Head in the Department of Sociology and Criminology in the School of Society, Politics and Ethics, University College Cork, specializing in the areas of environment, community, sustainable development and climate change.

He began his research career in the Centre for European Research, UCC (1992-1997), after graduating from the inaugural cohort of the M.A. in the Sociology of Development, where he was a researcher on a number of EU projects on environment and sustainable development. In 1997, he was awarded a scholarship to the Advanced Study Course Systemic Complexity and Eco-Sustainable Development, Erice, Sicily.

Ger joined the Cleaner Production Promotion Unit, CPPU (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) in June 1998 as a Senior Researcher and Programme Manager for Regional Sustainable Development (1998-2003). He rejoined the Sociology Department in 2003 as a college lecturer and is currently a research associate in the Environmental Research Institute, the Cleaner Production Promotion Unit, Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21), and MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy, all at UCC. UCC Research Profiles: Gerard Mullally, Sociology

Dr. Evan Boyle

Workshop: Action-orientated TDR and collaborative governance

Evan is a postdoctoral researcher with the Department of Sociology and Criminology, University College Cork and the MaREI Centre. His research focuses on community engagement and transdisciplinary approaches to sustainability.

Currently, he is investigating participatory approaches to energy infrastructure development, both in Ireland and Internationally. Alongside this, he has experience working in transdisciplinary, action-orientated initiatives, and implementing collaborative governance structures with academic partners and wider community and industry stakeholders. Evan Boyle – MaREI


Dr. Maria Kirrane – Sustainability Officer UCC

Workshop (Virtual) – Green Campus Strategy & Journey

Maria holds a BSc. in Environmental Science from UCC and a PhD in Ecology, undertaken between UCC and the United States Department of Agriculture in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

As the Sustainability Officer for UCC, Maria is tasked with delivering the University’s Sustainability Strategy which seeks to embed the SDGs across all functions of the University.  She led the University in becoming the first in the world to be awarded a Green Flag from the Foundation for Environmental Education, and the first outside of North America to be awarded a STARS Gold rating from the Foundation for Environmental Education.  Maria’s establised and manages UCC’s Green Campus Living Laboratory Programme which supports staff and students to develop and deliver their own sustainability projects.

Prior to taking on the role as Sustainability Officer, Maria worked as a programme manager for the Natural Environment Research Council in the UK, and then as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Limerick.  The latter post explored the role of universities in driving the transition to a more sustainable society.

Research interests are principally around environmental education and innovative approaches to improving environmental performance, circular economy and biodiversity conservation. UCC Research Profiles: Maria Kirrane, Buildings & Estates


Dr. Paula A. Zapata - UPB Marine Sciences & CEMarin

Workshop: Protected Marine Areas in EU and LAC

Paula A Zapata Ramirez, PhD, MSc. is a marine biologist and professor of research methods at UPB. Her research includes remote sensing approaches for benthic observation, such as habitat mapping techniques to evaluate and manage marine ecosystems and influence policy related to environmental protection. Her main goal is to use the resulting maps from her technical research as tools for participatory decision-making that can help ensure a sustainable future for the marine environment and safeguard the livelihoods of local communities. Paula is strong at overcoming cultural and language barriers as regularly working within inter-institutional, international, and multicultural teams. She also has extensive experience in creating partnerships between recognized international research institutions and organisations. Paula has a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano in Colombia, where she evaluated the natural and anthropogenic impacts on the coral reefs of the National Natural Park Corals of the Rosario, Colombian Caribbean. Her MSc in marine geology from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) addressed why specific coral reef ecosystems develop where they do (and why do they not develop elsewhere), and what controls their establishment and development at the National Reef Park  of Puerto Morelos, México. Her PhD from Universitá Politecnica delle Marche, Italy evaluated the use and application of marine technology (e.g ROV, Remote sensing, Machine learning) to support Marine Protected Areas management and design and Marine Spatial Planning decisions. She was also a postdoctoral researcher at the Marine Geosciences Department at University of Miami – RSMA, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, where she studied the evolution of the Caribbean coral reefs during the last 20 Mys.

David Whyte, UCC - Marine Protected Areas in EU

Workshop: Protected Marine Areas in EU and LAC

Dave is a Postdoctoral Researcher with MaREI University College Cork (UCC). He is currently working on the Horizon Europe PREP4BLUE project, researching methodologies of stakeholder engagement and citizen involvement to support the EU Commission’s Mission to restore our Oceans and Waters by 2030. David comes from an interdisciplinary background, having studied philosophy at UCC before moving to University College London for an MSc and PhD in social anthropology. He has also worked in Irish/European rural development and the non-profit field.

Mario Leonel Argeñal Fuentes - Specialist in Blue Economies & Livelihoods GOAL LAC Region - Colombian & Caribbean Context

Dr. Santiago Arango-Aramburo

Workshop: Hackathon

Santiago Arango-Aramburo, Professor at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, in the area of system dynamics/simulation and energy, and Fulbright Visiting Professor at MIT, and Aarhus University. He has worked as a consultant for government and private companies in deregulation of public services, modeling and simulation in the energy and mining sector, climate change mitigation and adaptation, etc. His work has been published in journals such as Management Decision, Utilities Policy, Energy Policy, Energy Economics, Renewable Energy, Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Renewable, and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Journal of Cleaner Production, ant others. Ph.D. in System Dynamics, University of Bergen, Norway; Postdoc in Energy Modelling, University of Lugano, Switzerland.

Cliona Maher – Latin America Officer, UCC

Workshop – Internationalisation for Global Citizenship & SDGs

Cliona Maher is Latin America Officer for University College Cork (UCC), where she builds and promotes academic cooperation between Europe and Latin America, including collaborative research networks in community engagement, social responsibility, and promoting the Sustainable Development Goals and their relevance in the promotion of global citizenship at local, regional, and international levels.    

Elizabeth Colucci - Global Projects Director for the OBREAL Global Observatory

Workshop – Internationalisation for Global Citizenship & SDGs

Elizabeth Colucci currently serves as the Global Projects Director for the OBREAL Global Observatory, based in Barcelona, a membership organisation that provides a platform for strategic higher education partnerships between the EU, Latin America and different regions of the world. She has supported the transition of this organisation towards its current global mandate, profiled around North-South-South multi-lateral cooperation in the higher education, research, audio-visual, employment and local development sectors. For the Global Observatory, and in her broader function as a global higher education consultant, Elizabeth develops and coordinates projects on topics ranging from research management to local development, to innovative curricula design, to quality assurance and accreditation. 

Nataly Díaz - Academic Coordinator - TRAJECTS' Latin America HUB

Community Engagement – Cooperation and Communities Exchange for Climate Change Mitigation

Academic Coordinator for Latin America of the Transnational Center TRAJECTS. Degree in Chemistry and Master in Geography. His work focuses on landscape analysis and participatory methodologies for environmental sustainability.

Cristina Bendek, Caribbean author and journalist

Workshop: Storytelling Toolkit for Climate Action


If you want to know the exact agenda and schedules of each of the conferences and workshops, please click here.

Conference photo gallery

TV UNAL recordings

For more content of this type, visit the UNAL Youtube channel.

Hackaton Workshop


Postgraduate Students or young researchers from Colombia and the Caribbean can apply to join a Hackathon on Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by proposing innovative projects to solve pressing issues in Caribbean Islands on one of 4 themes: Energy Transition, Waste Management, Fresh Water Conservation & Food Security. Projects must have a community engagement focus.


Postgraduate students, young researchers (after 1 – 3 finish Ph.D.), NGO’s and Community Project Leaders can apply to join this event and the Hackaton by sending an innovative project idea. The best proposals will be funded to attend the seminar in San Andres Island.



The results and findings of the winners of the Hackathon Call are now available. Below you will find the results provided by the participating groups in each of the 4 themes proposed for the workshop: Energy Transition, Waste Management, Fresh Water Conservation & Food Security.

  1. Energy Transition:

Name: Comunidad energética con enfoque sostenible.

Members: Andrés Felipe Acosta Mora, Pierre Anthony Medina Wintaco, Jose Andrés Segura Flórez, Juan David Pinzón López. 

Click here to see the final report for this solution.

2. Waste Management:

Name: Estrategia Multidimensional de islas circulares aplicado a la problemática de residuos solidos
generados en la Reserva de Biosfera Sea Flower (San Andrés y Providencia).

Members: Andrés M. Rojas Verano, Javier Bernal López, Mónica Aguirre Toncel, Andrea Castro Bernal, Angela Grijalba, Eugenia Ospino Orozco, Jessica Pereira Hooker, Eder Rodríguez.

Click here to see the final report for this solution.

3. Fresh Water Conservation:

Name: Integrated water resources management in San Andrés Island.

Members: Eduardo Torres Rojas, Sebastián Méndez Corredor, Silvia María Pérez Carrillo.

Click here to see the final report for this solution.

4. Food Security:

Name: Jóvenes y niños “Granjeros del Mar” / Joung and PikniniOcean Farmers

Members: Danys Ortiz Olarte, Faruk Khaddaj, Hugo Alexander Semanate, Juliana Vera, Julián Prato, Katia Aldana Campos, Maria Cecilia Valencia.

Click here to see the final report for this solution.


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