Shows a single parched tree surrounded by dry cracked earth
The project links the goals of climate change solutions and strengthened democratic institutions. Credit: AP/Alamy

DCU Research team to coordinate Horizon Europe climate and democracy grant

Dr Diarmuid Torney will coordinate a consortium featuring a range of European partners in a grant worth just over €3 million. Fellow School of Law and Government researchers Dr Markus Pauli and Dr Goran Dominioni are also joining the RETOOL project.

Over the next 3 years, the RETOOL project seeks to both address the climate crisis and also reinvigorate and strengthen democratic processes and structures. The project posits that these are ‘twin challenges’ which are linked, and it seeks to deepen understanding of the relationship between them.

RETOOL brings together an international and interdisciplinary consortium, with partners from Western Europe (Ireland, UK, Belgium, Austria), Northern Europe (Finland), Eastern Europe (Estonia), and Southern Europe (Italy, Greece), combining expertise in political science, political sociology, deliberative democracy, environmental law, European studies, and public administration. 

The project will begin on 1st February 2024 and is worth just over  €640,000 in direct funding to DCU.

Dr Diarmuid Torney said:

"The task of achieving rapid, sustained and equitable responses to the climate crisis poses significant challenges for decision-makers around the world. Established systems of decision-making and governance, including in Europe, have failed to deliver appropriate policy responses at sufficient scale and speed. At the same time, democratic institutions, processes, and norms are increasingly under pressure, and we are witnessing a long democratic recession. RETOOL aims to advance our understanding of how to address the twin challenges of responding to the climate imperative along with strengthening and reinvigorating democratic governance."

Shows Dr Pauli, Dr Torney and Dr Donimioni in a horizontal grid
Dr Torney (middle) will co-ordinate the project, joined by his DCU colleagues Dr Markus Pauli (left) and Dr Goran Dominioni (right).

Vice President for Research John Doyle said:

“Coordinating research projects under the European Union funding schemes such as Horizon Europe is in line with our ambitious research objectives. It offers DCU huge opportunities as an institution. Dr Diarmuid Torney, along with his colleagues Dr Markus Pauli and Dr Goran Dominioni are therefore to be warmly congratulated on this award. In substance to this particular project reflects DCU's University level commitment to put Sustainable Development, which we put at the heart of all that we do.”

The project has four overarching goals:

  • To develop a novel analytical framework to examine the relationship between the climate crisis and democratic governance, incorporating empirical material such as important new open-access datasets
  • To understand how a variety of democratic institutions across Europe are responding to the climate challenge, including learning lessons from history and new and innovative democratic practices
  • To present high impact outputs to contribute to reinvigorating democratic governance in Europe
  • To serve as a bridge between academic research on climate democracy innovations and policymakers and practitioners, as well as civil society and the wider public


The RETOOL consortium has significant previous experience working together, with six of our nine partners core members of the EU-funded Jean Monnet Network GreenDeal-NET. It will be coordinated by Dublin City University and includes Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Trento, Ghent University, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, University of Eastern Finland, Holistic, a Greek research and communications consultancy specialising in energy and environmental policy, and DD Foundation, an Estonian social change consultancy. The London School of Economics and Political Science has applied to participate as an associated partner in RETOOL funded by the UKRI Horizon Europe guarantee fund.