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Our Team

Nichola Hughes

Nichola Hughes is the Executive Director of Sustainable Northern Ireland. She is a climate scientist, policy advisor and science communicator. She uses her position at Sustainable Northern Ireland to inspire and empower government and the private sector to help create and realise a positive vision for the future based on sustainability and equity.

Previously, Nichola worked for the Climate Change Advisory Council, the independent scientific body that provides climate change policy advice to the Government of Ireland. Her early career was in local government, where she led the delivery of the Mayor’s low-carbon domestic retrofit programme in London. Nichola holds an MSc in Climate Change from the University of East Anglia and a First Class Honours Degree in Biochemistry from Queen's University Belfast.

Francesca Di Palo

Francesca Di Palo is the Sustainability Officer at Sustainable NI. She joined SNI in September 2021 and currently supports the Executive Director in managing the NI Sustainable Development Forum, a network of public sector officers working together to drive forward the sustainable development agenda in Northern Ireland.

Francesca worked for 3 years as Eco-Schools Project Officer at KNIB, coordinating international programmes like the Young Reporters for the Environment. She collaborated with the Foundation for Environmental Education to grow the understanding of SDGs among young people and communities in NI and worldwide through the Education for Sustainable Development network (ESD).

Previously she worked as Biodiversity Officer for Ulster Wildlife implementing the AES UK&Ireland Biodiversity Action Plan. Her background in Ecosystem Functioning and Services comes from conservation work taken up for the charity sector and from completing a PhD in Plant and Soil Ecology at the Ulster University.

Claire McVeigh

Claire McVeigh joined SNI as a Sustainability Advisor in April 2022. She is involved in development of Business Services for the organisation including our sustainability audit programme which measures and manages organisations impact on people and the planet. Our assessment advises businesses on how to improve their sustainability in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Previously, Claire worked as a Conservation Officer with Ulster Wildlife as a member of the CANN project. This focused on restoring and protecting peatland Special Areas of Conservation, building on her PhD research in peatland and climate science.

Prior to this she worked as an Environmental Consultant, working with a wide range of businesses on issues such as preparing environmental impact assessments for new developments.  Claire has a joint international MSc in Global Change: Ecosystem Science and Policy from University College Dublin and Justus Liebig University, Giessen, and a First Class Honours BSc in Geography from Queen’s University, Belfast.