Online Cooperation of the Economic and Social Councils
The Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons for Irish Public Policy (158)
This research from the National Economic and Social Council reviews international experience of emergencies and the Covid-19 pandemic, looks at examples of Ireland’s response to the pandemic, and identifies five key lessons for Irish public policy. These are:
Vulnerability is complex and context-specific, meaning pinpointing and managing vulnerability are crucial.
Stakeholder networks and experts shape outcomes, so the policy system must stay deeply engaged.
Real-time evidence, when used alongside longer-run data, has the power to transform policymaking, suggesting that the analytical activity which aided in the pandemic response can be applied in other areas of public policy.
Adapting the policy world to the data world requires significant effort, meaning that governance, privacy, access, confidentially and data-sharing issues must be prioritised and addressed with urgency.
Communication and trust are critical for responding to crises. Policymakers must improve their capacity to reach out, to listen actively, and to communicate clearly. They must also work to ensure their decisions deliver, and are seen to deliver, for society.
The Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons for Irish Public Policy: GA
As part of the Government’s Shared Island Initiative the Department of the Taoiseach requested NESC to undertake research and to produce a comprehensive report on the Shared Island, to inform the development of the Shared Island Initiative as a whole of Government priority.
This report is the culmination of research on the Shared Island that NESC undertook over 2021. This involved more than 100 meetings with practitioners, policy makers, academics and experts from a diverse range of institutions across the whole island, detailed work in the North West including four focus groups, a public consultation on climate and biodiversity, plus a number of NESC Shared Island publications on the economy, regional development, good jobs, climate and biodiversity, poverty and mental health.
The report makes specific recommendations across five key areas in relation to the economy and investment, social policy, climate and biodiversity, wellbeing measurement and data co-ordination.
Shared Island: Shared Opportunity NESC Comprehensive Report: GA
Collaboration on Climate and Biodiversity: Shared Island as a Catalyst for Renewed Ambition & Action (156)
Forming part of a wider body of work on a Shared Island for the Department of the Taoiseach, this report by the National Economic and Social Council examines the particular challenges and opportunities of climate change and biodiversity loss across the island. It draws on an extensive consultation process with stakeholders, north and south.
In this report, the Council has identified that there is a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities; and of the need to accept that strengthening cooperation takes time and requires public engagement and participation. This report shows that there is an ambition to collaborate across the island to deal with climate and biodiversity in an integrated, positive and imaginative manner.
It also points to the deep, shared experience that provides a solid foundation to deliver on this ambition.
Collaboration on Climate and Biodiversity: Shared Island as a Catalyst for Renewed Ambition & Action: GA
Following the Programme for Government’s commitment to developing a well-being framework for Ireland, NESC was asked to consult with stakeholders and experts to inform the development of a well-being framework. The Department of the Taoiseach is leading this work, which is jointly sponsored by the Departments of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and supported by a wider Inter-departmental Working Group.
The National Economic and Social Council provided a vehicle for consultation with stakeholders, both through members of the Council representing different social partnership pillars, as well as external experts and interested parties and this report is based on these engagements and consultation and was an important input to the Government’s First Report on a Well-being Framework for Ireland.
Ireland’s Well-Being Framework: Consultation Report: GA
Digital Inclusion in Ireland: Connectivity, Devices & Skills (154)
Economic, social and cultural systems worldwide are becoming increasingly digitalised as we move into the 21st century.
This has opened up many new opportunities and challenges in how we live, work and relate to one another—changes
which have been accelerated by the Covid-19 lockdowns. More people and businesses need to be proficient in accessing
the digital world in order to adapt to and benefit from this transition. However, a number of groups are poorly engaged
with ICT, in particular those who are older, have lower levels of education, lower incomes, and live in rural areas. In
addition, the extent to which all of those online are fully engaging with the digital world varies. This is a cost for our
economy, society, government and individuals. The World Economic Forum identifies the digital divide as a critical
threat. This report therefore focuses on how Irish policy can improve digital inclusion.
Digital Inclusion in Ireland: Connectivity, Devices & Skills: GA
Shared Island: Projects, Progress & Policy Scoping Paper (153)
The Department of the Taoiseach has asked the National Economic and Social
Council to produce a comprehensive report on the Shared Island in 2021, to inform
the development of the Shared Island initiative as a whole-of-government priority.
The NESC research will contribute to building a shared knowledge base and
understanding about possible ways in which greater co-operation can emerge
across a number of economic, social and environmental areas in Ireland, North and
South, and also between these islands East and West.
The research will seek to engage with all communities and traditions on this island
to build consensus around a shared future, with a focus on actionable areas of cooperation. The work will be underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement and
absolute respect for the principle of consent. The research will not address the
constitutional question, but will focus on sustainable economic, social and
environmental development issues, in line with NESC’s strategic remit.
Shared Island: Projects, Progress & Policy Scoping Paper: GA
Grounding the Recovery in Sustainable Development: A Statement from the Council (152)
In Ireland and globally, governments are grappling with how to bring about a
recovery from the impacts of Covid-19. The context for action is still evolving, and
uncertainty remains about the medical and epidemiological course of the pandemic.
The scale of the urgency and level of transformative change required to deliver on
Ireland’s 2030 climate targets and the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be
However, there is strong agreement at EU level and in Ireland that the response to
the Covid-19 crisis can also be used to tackle long-standing economic, social and
environmental challenges. Given the scale of investment needed to address the
impacts of Covid-19, there may be a ‘once in a century’ moment to reset towards a
low-carbon and resilient economy, rather than return to normal.
This Statement from the Council stresses the importance of grounding the recovery
in sustainable development. It should be considered alongside the Council’s other
work on economic and social issues and that of the Secretariat on the Covid-19
Grounding the Recovery in Sustainable Development: A Statement from the Council: GA
The Future of the Irish Social Welfare System: Participation and Protection (151)
The Irish social welfare system is not in crisis, but faces profound challenges that
arise in the wider social, economic and demographic contexts. These challenges
have been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the
economy and society. This report asks: Is the Irish social welfare system fit for the
21st century? and makes suggestions as to how the system might be modernised to
reflect current contexts.
The Future of the Irish Social Welfare System: Participation and Protection: GA
Housing Policy: Actions to Deliver Change (150)
Prior to the Covid-19 crisis Ireland faced significant challenges in the housing sector including insufficient housing output, acute affordability pressures in the private rental sector and high unmet need for social housing. It is over two years since the Council set out its analysis of Ireland’s system of urban development, land management and housing provision. That research concluded that the system was dysfunctional and that a suite of actions were required to fix it. The Council’s consistent and long-standing position on housing and land-use policy is that Ireland must bring about a fundamental change in its system of urban development, land management and housing provision. Ireland must evolve from a speculative and highly cyclical system to a permanently affordable, stable and more sustainable system of housing.
Pursuing that objective, NESC’s current research is concerned with two-related issues. First, bridging the supply gap by actively managing land and locational value for public good; and second, bridging the affordability gap by engineering-in permanent affordability.
Separately, the Council has recommended the adoption of a more sustainable form of urban development (transport-orientated development) on foot of a significant, recent research study.
Addressing Employment Vulnerability as Part of a Just Transition in Ireland (149)
How do you manage a transition to a fundamentally new economic future? This question had been the focus of work at the National Economic and Social Council in the months and weeks before Covid-19.
The Council’s work focused on how to manage the transition associated with climate change and digital automation. These challenges will endure beyond the current crisis and the Council have identified recommendations which will help Ireland address these and embrace the significant the opportunities. These are contained in this report.
Addressing Employment Vulnerability as Part of a Just Transition in Ireland: GA
Addressing Employment Vulnerability as Part of a Just Transition in Ireland (149): GA