Is Ireland Thriving? Answers from International Assessments
- October 2023
- Report number: 32
- Topics: NESC@50
- Types: NESC Secretariat Papers
The theme of NESC’s 50th anniversary NESC@50 programme of research and events is A Thriving Ireland: Inclusive, Protective, and Forward Looking.
This Secretariat Report examines the extent to which Ireland can be described as a thriving country with reference to nine regularly cited assessments (covering well-being; human development; sustainable development; transition performance; social progress; biodiversity; competitiveness; inclusive wealth; and the doughnut model incorporating ecological and planetary boundaries).
The approaches examined have limitations, yet their consideration is a necessary starting point in any discussion of a country’s social, economic, and environmental position. This paper reinforces the position that they can only be a starting point.
Some key findings are:
- There is no one ideal measure of a country’s performance.
- While Ireland ranks highly on many metrics, and in several ways is a successful and prosperous nation, there are obvious, significant areas for improvement.
- It is important to distinguish between current and future performance.
- The question of whether a country is thriving must consider distributional issues.
- There are huge challenges to be faced for Ireland and the international community in living within planetary boundaries.
- Decoupling of economic growth and environmental impact is possible, but there is a lack of evidence to show that decoupling can be achieved at the scale and speed required to live within planetary boundaries.
- There is judgement involved in the selection of indicators for any framework and the results are invariably influenced by indicators chosen. The indicators in Ireland’s well-being framework should be kept under ongoing review.
- Overall, Ireland today is thriving in many aspects, with some obvious capacity and distributional challenges; but more must be done on environmental sustainability and for the Ireland of tomorrow.