“As transformative as the Euro” – New EU Green Deal Explained

A month into office, new EU Commission President Ursula Von der Layen presented ‘the European Green Deal’; an ambitious strategy to transform Europe’s economy for a sustainable future.

Described in Brussels circles as being “as transformative as the Euro”, the Green Deal will frame every project, policy, regulation or investment decision made under Von der Layen’s commission.

So, what’s this deal about and what can we expect?

More Ambitious Climate Targets

Put simply, the Green Deal sets new, more ambitious climate targets while also decoupling economic growth from resource use. Critically, the Deal aims to ensure that the EU economy remains competitive during the green transition and that no groups of citizens, or sectors, are left behind.

As with any plan, delivery is key. To successfully transform the Europe into becoming more sustainable, much will depend on raising finance to stimulate investment, mobilise innovation and change how we heat our buildings, consume products, or transport people.

8 Core Areas

The Deal covers eight core areas:

  • Increased climate targets for 2030 and 2050
  • Supplying clean, affordable and secure energy
  • Mobilising industry for a clean and circular economy
  • Building in an energy and resource efficient way
  • Shifting to sustainable and smart mobility
  • ‘Farm to Fork’ environmentally friendly food systems
  • Preserving eco systems and biodiversity
  • Zero pollution and toxic free environments

A Just Transition

To meet its targets, the EU will be launching the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan (SEIP) and a Just Transition Mechanism. The EIB is set to re-position itself as a ‘climate bank’. Meanwhile, the SEIP aims to mobilise a €1 trillion fund, with at least 25% coming from the EU budget.

Furthermore, the Just Transition Fund will contain approx. €100 billion to support regions most exposed to transition challenges within each member state. Of this, circa €50 billion will come from the Commission and the balance from a public sector loan facility through the EIB.

The word from Brussels is clear: The future of Europe is a greener Europe; a Europe which cares about the environment and a world leader in sustainability.  And so, it is incumbent on us all to make the most of this opportunity.

Paula Cogan Annual Dinner speech

Chamber President, Paula Cogan Speech at Cork Chamber 2020 Annual Dinner

Paula Cogan Speech

Lord Mayor, Tánaiste, Minister, Deputy Mayor of Cork County, Leader of Fianna Fáil, Excellencies & Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Public Representatives, Distinguished Guests, fellow Members of Cork Chamber …..Ladies and Gentlemen, as President of Cork Chamber you are all most welcome to our 2020 Annual Dinner.

There’s lots of talk about polls, percentages, winners and losers this evening. Tomorrow, discreetly and privately each of us will cast a vote that will determine the future of Cork and of Ireland.

But every day, here, nationally and globally, people are casting their vote for or against living and investing in Cork. These people equally define the future of Cork and Ireland. They take their lead from the way in which we choose to shape our environment, society and economy.

Let’s talk polls, and percentage points. 14,000 additional people have chosen to build their careers in FDI companies in Cork over the past 9 years and countless thousands have joined the momentum of our indigenous innovators. Companies have chosen to invest, their people have chosen to live here, their families to grow here. We must continue as a society to invest in our value add, our talent, our creativity and the strong foundations that uphold this City region.

Fifteen years ago, 80 percent of people said they chose a job before a location.  Today, 64 percent choose the location before they choose the company or the job. Quality of life, placemaking, culture and economic resilience are the defining factors.

Simple things make all the difference. Traffic lights that change for pedestrians. Room on a footpath for a pram or wheelchair. Bikes and safe spaces to ride them. Buses and trains that arrive on time, and with a frequency that makes the timetable irrelevant. Park and rides that remove cars from our inner city. Green spaces. Trees. Riverbank walkways. Play areas for children. Connectivity to other cities – safe and fast route corridors. Galleries, cafes and retailers that open late, and on Sundays. New places to live in our City. Old places reimagined. Homes instead of houses. Communities instead of neighbourhoods.

Enough time has been spent making do with incremental change. Tortuous planning and funding delays already frustrate progress on existing commitments.  We need game changers now. We cannot afford as a society, as an economy, or environmentally to roll back on progress. Exceptional plans are in place in Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan and National Planning Framework. The Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy contains 3.5 billion for sustainable transport in Cork. This is welcome, but Cork needs the first 500 million now to deliver quick wins after a decade of underinvestment. The National Transport Authority needs a team solely focussed on Cork and this can only be achieved by a team based in a Cork office.

But the focus cannot be on Government alone. This year Cork Chamber is planting 200 indigenous trees. Next year we will plant 200 more. In 10 years over 2,000 of these trees will be growing in Cork. For context, Cork Chamber is an SME, employing twenty people, a not for profit with a steady but modest income. This is just one of the steps we are taking. The point being, as a business community taking steps together we can have a massive impact on the quality of life of our people.

This time last year we launched our appeal for €100,000 with the commitment of Social Innovation Fund to match it with a further €100,000. Tonight we are immensely proud to have opened our Sustainable Cork Fund of €200,000 supported by our members. It will help people to deliver on bright ideas and plant the seeds of a more creative, resilient and sustainable place. It will support projects focused on Climate Action and Environmental Awareness, Community Inclusion and Cohesion, Sustainable Employment and Economic Development. We must empower a thriving Cork. To empower, we must support socially conscious and innovative people.

These actions do not mean we are better people. It simply reflects a power shift. We stand more to gain from acting than we do from idle delay and talk. Consumer demand is transforming. Investment decisions are rapidly evolving. Cork and Ireland’s competitive advantage will increasingly be weighted on our ability to build a fair society that values people, nature and place. This is where the brightest want to live. This is where the employers who vie for their talent wish to invest. This is the space where Ireland will continue to advance. We cannot afford to simply catch up. We must move swiftly and lead.

The race is competitive, but are we are training like amateurs? Timelines come and go. Our neighbours become the global leaders in offshore wind while our powerplants creak. We talk about public transport but build no bus lanes. We set density targets but we don’t enhance construction viability. Cork slowly begins to sprawl. If we want to avoid playing like amateurs we need to stop acting like amateurs. Let’s put it simply. If over the lifespan of the next national Government and current local Government, we do not comprehensively deliver cycle and public transport infrastructure, we have lost. If over the same time we have not delivered a subsidy regime that shifts our energy supply to renewable production, we have failed. If we don’t create vibrant communities in our urban areas, we are consigning another generation to a life spent sitting in traffic, killing productivity, harming air quality, and damaging quality of life. A pious objection culture blocks our progress. Strong leadership and teamwork is our ally.

In 2005 Cork proudly stood as the European capital of culture. Today we continue to celebrate this legacy and Philip King will share his wisdom shortly. 15 years from this milestone, our recent economic trends data supports culture for all with 92% confirming that art in public spaces enhances the experience for residents and visitors alike. Public art amplifies local identity, inspires creativity and beautifies our communities. With a Placemaking Fund and Ireland’s only Customer Service Charter we continue to evolve our urban experience. Without a doubt, we are in an envious position with a strong tradition of arts and culture, a tradition that forms a central thread of Cork’s story. The legacy of 2005 continues to evolve.

By 2025 we must put another great legacy in place.  In 2025 Cork should celebrate the honour of being the European Green Capital. Joining the ranks of Stockholm, Bristol, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Essen, Oslo and Lahti. I set a goal so that we may measure success. I list the previous award holders to show that in doing so we will not lead the way. We will simply catch up. I call on all stakeholders, the City and County, the next Government, the NTA, TII and our members to back this objective forcefully and with urgency. The award is not an end goal. It is a means of measuring first steps. For Cork to differentiate, for Cork to be internationally competitive, nothing short of excellence will suffice.

Climate change, and the resultant turbulence on global society and markets is not something that is just topical. It is something that will define generations and define an era. Between us all, we have the power to be the change. To drive and demand climate action. There can be no downside to confidently pursuing a better quality of life for our City region.

For Cork to be the best place for business, it must aggressively and relentlessly improve quality of life. It is not an aspiration. It is a necessity. Ireland must re-establish its sense of place on the global stage. 50 years ago neutrality, diplomacy, poetry and culture were the USP’s of a small island nation establishing its economic identity. We have now firmly established our economic capabilities.

Whether in politics, sport or economics only the losers get to rest. We are running with the fastest and today the game moves faster than ever before. Our opponents have firm goals and defined bullish visions of progress. We must be clear on OUR OWN vision or we will lose our identity.

Tomorrow we go the polls. On Monday we go to work and our children go back to school. In time we will have a new Government. Their every move will be judged. Ireland must win. And a successful, progressive, and sustainable Cork is the metric that will define us.

Tonight as we gather in this historic building of City Hall which mirrors the resilience of the people of Cork as it rose from the ashes after the burning of Cork in December 1920.

I conclude with the words of a great Cork patriot Terence MacSwiney

Our future history shall be more glorious that that of any contemporary state.  We shall look for prosperity, no doubt, but let our enthusiasm be for beautiful living – we shall build up our strength, yet not for conquest, but as a pledge of brotherhood and a defence of the weaker one of the earth. We shall take pride in our institutions, not only as guaranteeing the stability of the state but as securing the happiness of the citizens and we shall lead Europe again as we led it of old.”

Words spoken 100 years ago as appropriate today as then.

** TOAST – I’d like to propose a toast to the members and guests of Cork Chamber.

Sustainable living Cork

Things are Looking Up for Cork’s Sustainable Future

Sustainable living Cork

We all know the image. In 1932, amid the Great Recession, eleven construction workers sit with dangling legs high above Manhattan’s skyline, enjoying lunch atop a skyscraper. Staged to promote the construction of the Rockefeller Centre, the photo has since become synonymous with Irish immigrant workers and the development of downtown New York.

Some 90 years later, if recent planning applications are anything to go by, it appears that construction workers will soon be working on tall buildings across our own evolving skyline.

Encouraged by new planning guidelines, in which the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government called for councils to “lift overly restrictive maximum heights” and actively pursue tall buildings in city centres, exciting applications have been submitted for new types of developments which boldly re-imagine the look of Cork Docklands.

Cities Re-imagined

Following in the century-old footsteps of cities across the USA and recently those in emerging economies, high-rise buildings are experiencing a resurgence across Europe in places as diverse as Manchester, Rotterdam, Milan and Barcelona.

Back in Cork, in the past six months, planning has been granted for Prism, a 15-story elegant office development inspired by New York’s Flatiron building, directly behind Parnell Place bus station. Across the from the Elysian (currently Cork’s tallest building), Railway Gardens – a 17-story apartment block centred around sustainable transport – has been given the green light. In the Docklands, JCD Group’s application to develop a state-of-the-art apartment scheme with 25 floors awaits a decision from An Board Pleanála. Meanwhile, Tower Holding’s proposal for a landmark 34-story hotel, warehouses and public plaza on Custom House Quay is also pending go-ahead.

Similar changes are happening in Dublin. A landmark ruling in April by the planning authority paved the way for high-rise construction on Tara Street, while Project Waterfront in the North Docklands includes a new 44-story tower.

Building Up Instead of Out

It is incredibly existing to have this scale of transformational development in Ireland within immediate proximity to existing city centres.

Building up instead of out has long been advocated to optimise our urban footprint. As an example, better spatial planning and delivery of high-density can play an important part in reducing traffic congestion and avoiding sprawl. In fact, improving core density is the first and foremost principle championed by City Regions Ireland; an urban voice representing the five cities of Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.

Compact development is also supported by national planning policy and endorsed by both Cork City and County Councils in a joint strategy for the future growth of Cork. Under Government’s Project Ireland 2040, a key focus is that 50% of all future urban population growth takes place in existing brownfield locations.

Looking ahead to 2031, Cork Metropolitan Area’s workforce will grow by 65,000 people. To facilitate this employment growth, we will need 27,300 new housing units, investment in our transport network, additional social infrastructure, places to play and spaces to ride a bike.

Quality of Place

In this context, it is welcome that Cork’s proposed tall buildings are all planned right next to public transport hubs to minimise the need for additional car-based commuting or investment in the road network. Equally important is the engagement of world leading tall buildings experts to ensure proper placemaking and appropriate design. The more people that live, work and socialise in an area, the more vibrant a place will be.

The 2019 Human Development Index Ranking by the United Nations places Ireland third globally for quality of life. Marrying our future economic growth and opportunity with delivery of high-density, placemaking, well-designed communities, and integration of sustainable transport is essential to maintain Cork as an attractive place to live. Quality of life is an increasing priority for anyone deciding where to invest. As a city and country, we need to plan for, and continually improve, quality of place; forever keeping an eye to the world and attuned to the evolving preferences of people.

High Density vs. High Rise

We are at a pivotal point in Cork with development at a larger scale than ever seen before. However, high-density does not exclusively mean high-rise. Well-designed and appropriately located tall buildings can become game-charges for Cork and further identify our Docklands and as a vibrant international location. But we must also continue to value and invest in our historic core. Within our current city centre, the goal of high-density could mean many things: A return of vacant units to city centre homes, above the shop living, or construction of six to eight story apartment buildings that blend well with the architectural style of the surrounding area.

The construction activity on Horgan’s Quay, Penrose Quay and Albert Quay provides a sneak peek of what’s to come. Cork’s Docklands will become a focal point for commercial activity. We must ensure that high-quality public places, sustainable and public transport, and integration of tall buildings at street level are incorporated into the City Docklands rejuvenation from the outset. Public realm upgrades such as the €6.5m Albert Quay investment passed by Cork City Council in September and now subject to a legal challenge, must be developed without delay or we may undermine the advancement of our city.

No one wants to retrofit neighbourhoods in the future when the opportunity is there now, to do this right.

A city rising is, indeed, a beautiful thing. Who knows? Maybe the next iconic photo will be of eleven ironworkers eating lunch atop a skyscraper, high above the River Lee.


This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner on 26 December 2019 as part of its Cork on the Rise series. 

Students and artwork at the Future Forms exhibition at the Glucksman Gallery in UCC

Embedding Resilience at the Heart of Climate Adaptation

Students and artwork at the Future Forms exhibition at the Glucksman Gallery in UCC

Students and artwork at the Future Forms exhibition at the Glucksman Gallery in UCC

Notwithstanding global efforts to limit a rise in climate temperature to within 1.5 degrees, Ireland will still expect effects from a rising temperature and must prepare for this, as well as for beyond 1.5 degrees. This requires a two-pronged approach through mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation is about changing how we live, travel, consume and manufacture and requires a large scale and fundamental shift in how we best use land and natural resources. Adaptation focuses on the expected impacts and the practical actions that society need to take in order to manage the risks and protect communities.

Michelle O’Sullivan, Senior Public Affairs Executive with Cork Chamber shares with us the concerns and priorities of the business community on climate adaptation for Cork in the years ahead.

Building resilience across all of society is essential for a successful transition to a low carbon economy and society. Recently we included submissions to the public consultations for the draft City, and County Climate Adaptation Strategies, while asking for commitment to develop dedicated and comprehensive climate change mitigation strategies to work in parallel with adaptation efforts. Without a shadow of doubt, we need to be implementing actions immediately to support a thriving and sustainable Cork region and we very much welcomed this opportunity to engage with the draft plans for Cork, and which have now been adopted by the Councils.

The effects of climate change are being felt now, with weather related incidences such as Hurricane Lorenzo now a real threat. The EPA’s Climate Change Research Programme undertake ongoing analysis and studies on climate change in Ireland. Through analysis of the meteorological records, evidence shows that Ireland’s climate is changing in line with global patterns with impacts set to increase in the coming decades and heightening in the second half of the century. Impacts include sea level rise, more intense storms and rainfall, increased likelihood and magnitude of river and coastal flooding, adverse impacts on water quality, changes in distribution of plant and animal species, and effects on fisheries.

Resilience building is key, and this will be particularly urgent for communities in vulnerable, low lying fluvial, pluvial and coastal flood prone locations. We don’t have to cast our memories back too far to know how Cork City is especially vulnerable, with business and residential communities being severely impacted in the past. Over the last two decades, Cork has incurred an estimated €150m in damages from the 2004, 2009 and 2014 flood events, with associated uncertainty and difficulties for businesses and homeowners to secure insurance.

Above all, to be effective, strategies need to be based on a top down and bottom up approach involving businesses, communities and individuals in this all of society challenge. A focus on implementation, monitoring and evaluation is vital, as well as the updating of strategy actions to align with changing conditions. Preparedness and proactivity will be key in countering the worst effects of changing climate patterns, and it is essential that these Climate Adaptation Strategies are meaningfully supported by funding from Central Government to safeguard economic, environmental and social resilience, and to support our local authorities.

As part of the Chamber submissions to the consultations, we emphasised the strength of robust and diverse stakeholder involvement, a bottom up and top down approach and the need for agility in the strategies. We queried the specific timeframes included and meant by short, medium- and long-term actions and sought clarity on the duration of each timeframe, believing the inclusion of a more specific breakdown of these timeframes would assist monitoring and review, with each action having a set period of implementation.

The inclusion of natural resilience through green infrastructure, and nature for climate adaptation, the inclusion of climate resilient designs and materials and the criticality of energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy solutions as part of new developments are a must. We need to be developing Cork in a way that is prudent, futureproofing as we go, and resilient incorporating nature-based solutions to enhance resilience, health, food security with planting for pollinators, heat/ air pollutant abatement through tree planting, wellbeing as well as placemaking.

The focus within the strategies on climate considerations in design, planning and tendering processes in the construction of infrastructure projects is a must to ensure the safety and reliability of infrastructure, as well as the longevity and resilience of the investment in capital expenditure projects. All in all, it’s essential that ongoing engagement and participation across all communities is a central pillar to ensure representative discussions of future pathways, and the empowerment of the business community and wider communities locally in the implementation of these strategies.

You can keep up to date on the Cork Chamber submissions to public consultation via the Cork Chamber website.

Networking in Cork

Networking Tips

You’ve taken the first step and decided to start networking, now what? We’ve put together our top tips to help you get the most out of every networking opportunity.

Get Out There!

Attending events regularly is one of the easiest ways you can start to build a network with other Chamber members.

Book Early

Many events have limited places. As soon as you see an event that interests you, book your place to avoid disappointment.

Start Talking

If you’re attending an event talk about it on social media. It’s a great way to start a conversation. Cork Chamber have a large presence on LinkedIn and Twitter and we love to talk.

Share The Love

Use events as an opportunity to strengthen existing relationships by inviting clients, colleagues and customers to attend with you.

Do Your Homework

Read the attendance list and choose 2/3 people you’d like to meet at the event. Knowing who you want to connect with will help you break the ice.

Arrive On Time

If you’re rushing in to a room just as the speaker gets on stage you’ve already missed valuable opportunities to meet people. Arrive in plenty of time to meet people and swap business cards.

Bring Business Cards!

Share The Spotlight

Raise your profile and share key brand messages by doing a one minute elevator pitch at an event.

Say Cheese

Smile and get yourself in to a photo, you never know where your face might show up!

Don’t Be Shy

If you’re not a seasoned networker it can be daunting walking up to someone and introducing yourself so remember that everyone is there for the same reason as you.

Follow Up

You can send an email, connect on LinkedIn or share those contact details you promised. Whatever way you do it, following up with contacts you meet at Chamber events is critical to your networking success.

Stay Informed

Find out what’s happening first by following Cork Chamber on LinkedIn and Twitter, and keep an eye on our weekly e-bulletin and website for the latest news and event announcements!

Keep in Touch!

Keep your profile up and make sure other Members know about any news, events or offers you’re running by adding items to the Members Information Centre (MIC). From there it will be shared on the weekly e-bulletin and on our website!

Little Island Infrastructure Survey

Infrastructure Updates

Little Island Infrastructure Survey

1. NTA Survey results

In May 2019 we facilitated an NTA survey, engaging with businesses throughout the Island to guide the nature of investment into Little Island. The Island has benefited recently from road improvements that are very welcome but is still all but devoid of multi-modal transport options such as bus and bike. Thanks to the thousands of you who responded to the survey. The NTA expect to publish the findings in September and will keep you updated in advance.

2. Little Island Transport Study – Cork County Council Survey

As you may be aware Cork County Council finalised the Strategy Design Report for the Little Island Transportation Study in March 2019 (report linked here). The overall aim of the study is to:
• Identify the existing transportation issues within Little Island;
• Explore potential solutions and;
• Ensure that there is an integrated and balanced approach to transportation engineering for the future of the Island.

Niall O’Donovan and Aisling McCarthy have been tasked by Cork County Council with undertaking a survey of current employee numbers on Little Island as part of on-going monitoring of traffic volumes on the Island. Both will call to the various business premises on the Island. This work started on Monday 15th July and is envisaged to take approximately three weeks. The purpose of the study is to determine the number of both full-time and part-time employees in each business on the Island. The data is being collected solely for the use of traffic and transportation planning and will be treated with full confidentiality. It will not be shared outside the Council’s project team.

3. TII – Dunkettle Interchange Update

In recent months we have been liaising with agencies, departments and political representatives regarding progression of the Dunkettle Interchange which is critical nationally but also critical locally to Little Island.

On Friday TII publicly issued the following note:
• Due to the scale and complexity of the project, the form of contract chosen by TII to deliver this project is a 2-stage contract with ‘Early Contractor Involvement’.
• Stage 1 is used to de-risk the project in advance of the Stage 2 main works construction. At Stage 1, TII works with the Stage 1 contractor to develop the design and seek clarity on costs associated with Stage 2 construction.
• In May 2018, following a competition, the contract was awarded to John Sisk and Son Limited. During Stage 1, in addition to developing the design of the project in detail, the contractor has carried out additional ground investigations, engaged with utility owners, undertaken environmental mitigation works, and developed construction methods and sequencing. Complex traffic management arrangements, which are crucial to minimising disruption to motorists during the upgrade works, have also been developed.
• On the basis of the design development completed during Stage 1, the contractor will, over the coming days, submit their forecast of the cost to carry out the main works construction.
• TII will then assess this submission to determine if this cost is acceptable. It is anticipated that this assessment will be complete within the next month. If TII and the Stage 1 contractor agree this cost, TII will submit to the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, requesting approval from Government, to proceed to Stage 2.
• If the cost is not agreed, then Stage 2, main works construction, will be removed from the contract and TII will return to the marketplace to seek to achieve better value for the taxpayer. If this is the case, the site investigation, planning, and design developed to date will be used as part of a new tender process. If required, it is anticipated that this additional tender process would take 12 to 18 months to complete.
• If this additional time is required, some works, such as major utility diversions, are likely to continue as smaller advance works items, in order to further de-risk the project and minimise the time required to complete the main construction works.

Our Sustainable Future - Insights from Our Ocean Wealth Summit 2019

Our Sustainable Future – Insights from Our Ocean Wealth Summit 2019

On Monday 10th of June, Cork played host to what was an incredibly exciting and thought-provoking day. The Our Ocean Wealth Summit is Ireland’s flagship event for the marine sector. This year the Ocean Wealth Summit had a focus on small island nations, with the theme ‘Shared Voices from Small Island States’. With representatives from across 30 island nations, global leaders and over 750 delegates, Monday’s Ocean Wealth Summit was a convergence of inspirational leaders from both home and abroad. Speakers relayed with passion their determination, their hope, and their belief in a sustainable future.

When is the last time you read about acid rain?

The keynote address at the Ocean Wealth Summit was delivered by Former US Secretary of State John Kerry.  He left attendees in no doubt about the immediate need for global action and concerted political will to catalyse the pace of global decarbonisation. As he put it: “there will be no ocean wealth without ocean health” and climate action. Very much airing on the side of man’s potential to act, to solve a man-made problem with a man-made solution, Mr. Kerry drew the audience’s attention to previous global environmental issues that were addressed successfully by working together. “When is the last time you have read or talked about acid rain?” he challenged the audience, adding that climate change can be tackled if we decide collectively to collaborate stating “It’s not whether we can do it, but whether we decide to do it.” Adding, “We have no right to rest on the laurels of commitments made at the last meeting, commitments that aren’t being met”, referring to the national targets (pathways) under the Paris Agreement for greenhouse gas emission reductions to 2030, and prior to that the 2020 targets. Mr. Kerry concluded that step change is pivoted on the adoption of sensible energy policies. We have the means, we have the knowledge and capacity, but we need to seize the opportunity to adopt new technologies, to make brave political decisions and in his own words “to get the job done.” He added that the “greatest danger is futility, the belief that there is nothing one man or one woman can do”, rallying for innovation, insight and investment and encouraging global action and collaboration to meet this challenge.

Island Nations can be the incubators of change

An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney referenced how our history and our people are shaped by events in the oceans. Sadly in 2019 “our world is shadowed by crises, nearly all of them man-made.” Mr Coveney commended multilateralism among the small island nations as a key tool in protecting our oceans’ health; “Acting together, we have a voice.”

In 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) released a special report with a stark planetary health warning to us all, with a powerful call to action stating the world has just 11 short years to curb a climate catastrophe.  The report highlights the imperative that action is needed now, and fast, to cut the risk of extreme heat, droughts, floods and poverty. The IPCC Special Report outlines the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Beyond 1.5°C by even a half degree, we are opening wide the planetary front door to increasing our risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for millions upon millions of people.

The cost of Inaction

Currently Ireland is a laggard, consistently missing national and international carbon emission reduction targets. Our greenhouse gas emissions are nearly three million tonnes outside the pathway identified to meet 2020 targets. The cost of inaction is far off balance with the benefits of action when you consider the financial penalties payable of up to €150 million per annum. We are missing out on opportunities to shift to a clean energy and tech society and the benefits that this could bring to our wider economy, society and environment. The pathway to 2030 is our chance to make this shift and how we approach this will be our talisman of good fortune or missed opportunity. A report from EuroFound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, highlights the positive economic and employment benefits of a green transition for the EU as a whole, highlighting that governments must implement policy measures now to ensure that all of society can benefit from a move to a low carbon future.

The Earth is Our Home

Preceding John Kerry’s address, 17 year old youth activist Alicia O’Sullivan from Skibbereen, West Cork took to the stage at the Ocean Wealth Summit engaging the audience with her determination and leadership. Alicia spoke passionately about the need to refocus “across all institutions, policy, laws and economic structures on the core values of people, culture, home and our environment” winning the praise of both John Kerry and An Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Alicia had the full attention of the all attendees when she summed up young people’s frustration about the global climate inaction amongst leaders, saying “we are scared that we will not have what you had.”

Island Voices: The Ocean Wealth Summit

The Permanent Representative of Palau, Ngedikes Olai Uludong, to the United Nations had encouraging words for her island nation counterparts highlighting the scale and capability of island nations to make the difference, to act as ‘small incubators for change’. Ngedikes proudly talked of the efforts in Palau to conserve marine life and territories with 80% of their marine territory designated as fully protected marine reserve with no fishing or mining permitted. Palau, an archipelago of over 500 islands is smaller than New York City, and has the sixth largest marine  reserve  in the world, larger than the US state of California, a clear statement in recognition of the criticality of the ocean to their nation’s future survival.

The business and innovation potential in sustainability was highlighted through the success story of CuanTec, whose founder and CEO Dr Cait Murray-Green recounted the growth of CuanTec as one of Scotland’s leading companies in the bioeconomy area. CuanTec have developed a circular economy approach to using technology from the marine environment to prevent further ocean pollution and also to reduce food waste.  Dr Murray-Green emphasised the importance of innovation, and the potential for new technologies and processes.

Changing tides

Across the breadth of speakers at the Ocean Wealth Summit, the audience were left in no doubt about the opportunities for change, and the need for a step change in how we interact and counter climate change and environmental degradation to ensure a sustainable future. A future that protects our ocean’s health, and its vast and largely undiscovered and unexplored potential. As eloquently concluded by Mr. John Kerry: “There is no blue economy, there are no fisheries, if we cannot protect our oceans”.

This overview is but a brief snapshot of the summit, the full line up of speakers can be found here.

Seafest and the Ocean Wealth Summit will be back in Cork in 2020 and 2021.

View the Ocean Wealth Summit website here.

You may be interested in the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport draft plan, view here.

Read more about the our 8 main focus areas here.

Explainer: Cork’s Guide to the European Elections

On May 24th you will be asked to vote in the local and European Parliament elections. But do you know who your European candidates are or what they do?


Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are elected for a 5-year term. Ireland has 13 MEPs in the European Parliament who each represent a regional area. Candidates elected in Cork represent Ireland South. The European Parliament has a total of 751 MEPs, who come together in eight political groups organised by political affiliation.

What does an MEP do and why should you care?

MEPs are YOUR representatives to the European Parliament. They shape the future of the European Union by voting, lobbying and informing the policies adopted by EU institutions. For example, the current European Parliament agreed the abolition of roaming surcharges, which has enabled people to call, text and use mobile data for the same cost at home while travelling in another EU member state.

Your MEP is going to be in Brussels trying to get the best deal from Europe, for you. In this way MEPs shape our city region. From renovating and redeveloping the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, to the imminent arrival of the Mary Elmes bridge in Cork City, the European Parliament is investing euros in our back yard and MEPs have the power to decide how and where the EU budget is spent.

 Let’s have a look at how the European Union is investing in Ireland:

  • Ireland will receive €3.4bn investment by 2020
  • €300m in EU investment for Social Housing by 2020
  • Rolling out 5G in Ireland – €1.4bn investment
  • 15,000 Irish SMEs to receive €1.5bn funding from EU by 2020

Our EU Election Priorities – Five questions to ask the candidates:

1. A Europe that invests in its cities, regions and people

 “A good city is like a good party — people stay longer than really necessary, because they are enjoying themselves”: Jan Gehl 

Regional development and strategic investment in capital infrastructure is essential to making Ireland a better place to live and work. From developing the Triskel Arts centre, to facilitating the Port of Cork’s move to Ringaskiddy, delivering new public and road transport infrastructure, and investing in research and development, we call for continued financial supports to be available via the European Investment Bank to support the delivery of Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan.


 2. A competitive and cooperative approach to taxation 

Small, open economies such as Ireland use taxation policy to attract investment and increase competitiveness relative to its larger neighbours. Recent proposals by the European Commission to change voting for taxation policy has the potential to dilute Ireland’s ability to remain competitive.

We call on new MEPs to defend tax sovereignty of member states and advocate for collective international action on global tax matters such as tax-avoidance and digital tax. Small open economies such as Ireland depend on it.


3.An ambitious global trade agenda that delivers for all

The EU has secured more than 30 free trade agreements with non-EU countries, most recently with Canada and Japan. The UK’s EU departure poses a major challenge for Irish exporters, particularly SMEs, who will need assistance in accessing new markets and diversifying.

 Newly elected MEPs must advocate for global trade and support Irish exporters to benefit from SME-friendly trade agreements.


4. A supportive framework for a more sustainable circular economy

More efforts are needed to ensure that the effects of climate change do not continue to increase. Supporting businesses to transition to the low carbon economy should be a top priority for this European Parliament.

We call on MEPs and the European Commission to work together with Chambers of Commerce to ensure that the transition to a more sustainable business model is promoted in a way that is achievable to business.


5. A fully connected digital Europe

The completion of the Digital Single Market has become an important goal for the EU to ensure it maintains its position as a world leader in the digital economy. It will also make it much easier for SMEs to do business online across the EU.

We ask that striving to complete and enforce the Digital Single Market to be a priority for the newly elected members and appointed commissioners.

Get out and Vote

The EU matters to business, people and life in Cork. Under Ireland 2040, Cork has a once in a generation opportunity to sit with the major second cities of Europe such as Manchester, Rotterdam and Hamburg.

We ask that you get to know your candidates, question them on their election priorities, and make sure to use your vote on May 24th so your ideals and values are represented in Europe.

The Europe of tomorrow is in all our hands. Together, lets make it the best place for people and business.

MEP Candidates 2019 for Ireland South

Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael)

Sean Kelly (Fine Gael)

Andrew Doyle (Fine Gael)

Malcom Byrne (Fianna Fail)

Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fail)

Liadh Ní Riada  (Sinn Fein)

Sheila Nunan (Labour)

Grace O’Sullivan (Green Party)

Adrienne Wallace (People Before Profit)

Jan Van De Ven (Direct Democracy Ireland)

Breda Gardner (Independent)

Liam Minehan (Independent)

Diarmuid Patrick O’Flynn (Independent)

Walter Ryan Purcell (Independent)

Peter O’Loughlin (Independent)

Theresa Heaney (Independent)

Dolores Cahill (Independent)

Maurice Sexton (Independent)

Paddy Fitzgerald (Independent)

Mick Wallace (Independents 4 Change)

Allan Brennan (Independent)

Colleen Worthington (Independent)

Peter Madden (Independent)


To read our local election manifesto click here.