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Shared Island

NESC has been undertaking, at the request of the Department of the Taoiseach, a programme of research to produce a comprehensive report on the Shared Island to inform the development of the Shared Island Initiative as a whole of Government priority.

Shared Island: Shared Opportunity – NESC Comprehensive Report was launched by the Taoiseach Micheál Martin T.D. at an event on the 12th April 2022.

The report makes 3 overarching conclusions.

First, there is very significant support, in practice, for an all-island approach to key economic, social, environmental, and wellbeing challenges.

Second, climate change and biodiversity loss provide a clear and urgent platform for ambitious all-island action and collaboration.

Third, the factors which are shaping current and future collaboration are a shared agenda, resources, political certainty and support, legislative and regulatory coherence, and collaborative projects.

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.

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. This work has resulted in the publication of a number of outputs which are set out below.

The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) published a Scoping Paper: Projects, Progress and Policy setting out a proposed approach to research on the Shared Island initiative. 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.

A Consultation Paper on Climate and Biodiversity Challenges and Opportunities was made available. It provided an overview of the current state of knowledge and prevailing policy approaches for climate and biodiversity, in Ireland and Northern Ireland, touching also on UK, EU and international policies.  Through a consultation process, the work sought to incorporate the understandings of key stakeholders and form part of wider dialogue and engagement on the all-island dimensions of climate and biodiversity. Since the consultation closed a full council report has now being published, along with a short overview of the submissions made. NESC is grateful to all those who participated in the consultation process.

NESC has published two research papers that explore the value of understanding different types of ‘rural’ and the opportunities to build economic resilience, as Ireland transitions to a low carbon, digital and thriving economy and society.

A Secretariat Paper on the Good Jobs Agenda was published.  This paper identifies the ‘good jobs’ agenda as a concerted policy drive  to improve the quality and productivity of work and the experiences, incomes and standard of living of workers.  This agenda is focused on discovering the suite of measures and actions that will improve job quality within the labour market.  Drawing on interviews with stakeholders in Ireland and Northern Ireland, it finds that there is strong support for an all-island approach to ‘good-jobs’.

A publication that provides an overview of key economic indicators in both parts of the island and the connections between them is also available.  A related report (A Regional Perspective on Ireland, North and South) examines the economic features of regions across the island and also considers regional development issues.

A report on Sharing Knowledge and Lessons in Combatting Poverty was also published. The report finds that poverty is a concern on both parts of the island and explores opportunities to share knowledge and lessons which work towards the reduction of poverty across the island.

In early 2022, a new Secretariat report, A Shared Island Perspective on Mental Health, was published, providing an overview of the mental health policy landscape North and South, and highlighting examples of areas where co-operation already exists, often led by the community and voluntary sector. The report suggests areas that could be further developed.