Supporting Sustainable Communities

Posted on 7 Aug 2018 Last updated on 9 Dec 2022

The Wheel sees sustainable communities as socially resilient, environmentally healthy and economically thriving. We are engaged in a series of initiatives that highlight the importance of sustainable communities and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of international agreed goals that invite all people to 'think globally and act locally' to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and take action on climate change. Charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises have a critical role to play in helping Ireland to meet its commitments as signatories to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Wheel is engaged in a series of projects to highlight the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals - click on any of the heading below to learn more:

EMERGE is a new training and mentoring programme designed to empower communities in the wider Midlands region to meet the challenges posed by Ireland’s transition to a climate-proofed economy and resilient society.

Drawing on the region's unique heritage and resources, the programme will help the impacted communities take ownership of the new opportunities created by climate action, access funding, and own the economic, social and environmental future of the wider Midlands region.

EMERGE is rooted in the idea of a “Just Transition”, which seeks to ensure that the benefits of the move to a climate–proofed economy are widely shared, while those most affected by the challenges are supported. The programme will empower communities to take charge of the Just Transition and, above all, ensure that no one is left behind.

The programme is being delivered by Eastern and Midlands CAROUrban Foresight and The Wheel and the Government of Ireland is funding the programme through the Just Transition Fund and the Carbon Tax Fund.

The EMERGE programme will run from December 2022 to October 2023.

For full programme details, please click the button below.


In the Autumn of 2017 The Wheel was part of an open call to the Environmental Protection Agency ‘EPA Research – 2017 UN Sustainable Development Goals Call’.

The Wheel, in partnership with Trinity College Dublin, were successful in applying for an project titled "Piloting innovative approaches in sustainable communities towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Ireland". It was one of 3 projects funded during the open call and the only one that focussed specifically on communities.

The research fellow from TCD working with The Wheel on this project is Dr Vincent Carragher. The project hopes to build on Dr Carragher’s previous work in this space, EPA report 238, “Factors that Drive the Sustainable Behaviour and Transition of Communities, Groups and Individuals”[1]

In January 2019, programme coordinators issued a call to community and voluntary organisations across Ireland to take up the Spark Change Challenge. Those who took part linked their work to relevant SDGs and tracked their progress through a series of surveys. In return, they were offered mentorship, information and access to The Wheel’s Sustainable Communities Toolkit. Throughout the challenge, 55 success stories were documented on

Among those who completed the challenge, impacts were recorded in the SDGs related to global human welfare, rights, solidarity and environment. The biggest impact was recorded in SDGs 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 4 (Quality Education), 11(Sustainable Cities and Communities), 14 (Life below Water) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). Eighteen of the 39 projects that completed the challenge were nominated for the Spark Change Awards, which took place a Dublin Castle on 18 October 2019. A panel of independent judges chose a winner in each of the six categories.

In 2021, EPA published a research report based on the project, Piloting Innovative Approaches in Sustainable Communities Towards Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Ireland (PDF) by Dr Vincent Carragher and Hugh O’Reilly

The Wheel also published a guide for community and voluntary organisations, Lessons in Sustainable Development for Community and Voluntary

The project website will remain live until 2023, and will serve as a library of success stories that can be replicated in communities. 

Visit to learn more.


Living Better, Using Less is a web-based resource that explores pathways for communities to become more sustainable.

By starting first within our community/voluntary group, we can roll out our learnings to our family, community and area. This user-friendly toolkit, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), provides practical guidance for the sustainable community journey.  

Visit and download our sustainable toolkit booklet.

Download the Sustainable Communities Funding Handbook, produced in partnership with the EPA.

Download the Sustainable Communities Governance Handbook, produced in partnership with the EPA.

The Wheel is a member of Coalition 2030, an alliance of over 60 civil society organisations working together to ensure Ireland keeps its promise to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The coalition is made up of a broad range of organisations, including domestic charities, international NGOs, environmental groups, academics and trade unions. This diverse partnership has come together in the belief that Agenda 2030 – the global development plan agreed in September 2015 at the United Nations – must be fully implemented and its promises kept. Learn more about Coalition 2030.

Coalition 2030

Our new podcast, The Good Stuff, brings you inspiring voices, news and views from around the nonprofit world.

Check out the first episode of this three part mini-series celebrating the fourth anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations General Assembly.

Listen in to the podcast below and continue the conversation using the hashtag #TheGoodStuff.

Episode 1

In the first episode we were joined by Valery Molay and Jack O’Connor, Ireland’s UN Youth Delegates, to speak about how young people are getting involved in the conversation about sustainability and what we can do to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Episode 2

In Episode Two, we are joined by Ali Sheridan sustainability champion and member of Maynooth Sustainable Energy Community. Ali has been interested in the concept of sustainable communities since she was a young person growing up in Leixlip and watching the riverside town transformed by industrialisation right through to her current role as country sustainability lead for IKEA. A believer in a holistic approach to sustainability, she has recently become involved in a community group in her home town of Maynooth. She has witnessed the transformative power of community action on environmental sustainability and how this has positive knock-on benefits for wider community life. We explore how to create sustainable communities by thinking globally and acting locally.

Episode 3

In this final episode, we are joined by Joanne McGarry and Cliona Sharkey from Trócaire. They provide a global view of how climate change is affecting communities around the world, and they speak passionately about Ireland's responsibility to take action..

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) leads the implementation of the SDGs in Ireland. It has created a National Implementation Plan for the SDGs which sets out how Ireland will work to achieve the Goals, both domestically and internationally.

Effective implementation of the Plan will require continued engagement by a range of stakeholders including civil society, business, local government and communities.

Read the Plan  

New video (Dec 22): this video contains highlights and key messages from the cross-Government launch of the SDG National Implementation Plan 2022-2024: Watch Here

The Wheel's Own Sustainability Journey

It's not all policy and reports around here - we're also doing our best to make our own work environment and practices as sustainable as possible!

Recent efforts include:

  • In 2019 we moved to using compostable cups, plates and napkins for our in house training events. We now use Down 2 Earth materials, which will certifiably break down into soil within 6-weeks when commercially composted.
  • Of course, that meant finding a provider who would compost these for us after use. Panda provide us with a brown bin for our food and compostable waste. This allows us as a team to dispose of our own food waste and scraps to be composted. We use Obeo food waste bags to make this process as neat and tidy as possible in our busy office kitchen!
  • We are making a concentrated effort to only purchase recycled paper for our printer, and our company policy is to print everything on 2 sided paper, and only if necessary.
  • At our events, we now only order meat free options for our refreshments.
  • We also encourage our event attendees to bring along their reusable coffee cups and water bottles to cut down on the amount of disposable paper and plastic being used at off site events.
  • When we travel to meetings and events, we take the train where possible and car pool if public transport is not an option.
  • In addition to the above measures, in summer 2019 The Wheel welcomed our new desk buddies in the form of house plants as well as some colourful containers on our balcony. These have really brightened up our office environment!