Supporting Sustainable Communities

Posted on 7 Aug 2018 Last updated on 22 Sep 2020

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:

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.

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 18-month 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]

The programme focuses on four key areas:

1. Reach (Awareness)

Direct Community Engagement through the networks of The Wheel and Dr Carraghers previous community engaged research groups via forums, seminars, coffee mornings across the country to build awareness of the actions and ideas that can Spark Change in local communities

2. Rivalry

A key motivator to action is through competition and rivalry. Like Tidy Towns there will be a national competition where communities can take the Challenge. We encourage people to start a project that will help their community become more environmentally, economically or socially sustainable.

3. Reward

We will host an awards ceremony at the end of the project to recognise the communities that have taken the challenge and announce winners in the various categories.

4. Realisation

Underpinning all of the work is a key pillar of making the SDGs real in people lives. We start from a position of recognising that there are already great things happening to make Irish communities more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. Allowing people to identify their actions as contributing to the SDGs will empower people to take more actions in their communities around the SDGs and give them a framework to make the SDGs relevant and real in their everyday lives and thus drive more sustainable behaviour.

Visit to learn more.

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  

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!