The Ireland of 2025

In these times of much gloom about the short-term prospects for the global and domestic economies, it’s important to remember that there will be life after this recession.  But as detailed in our Shift to Thrift ezine of May 21st, the future will be different to what was accepted as normal before the present recession.

It’s good to know therefore that much work is being done in developing strategic policy requirements which will help to build a more sustainable competitive enterprise sector in order to build export led growth and economic recovery in Ireland.

Forfás is Ireland’s national policy advisory body for enterprise and science, and they have just published a comprehensive document called Sharing our Future: Ireland 2025, which looks at a range of changes and challenges that will affect life and enterprise in Ireland over the coming decades.

It concludes that the forces of change the global trends and the potential scenarios that will determine Ireland’s future are already underway.

Eleven key forces of change impacting on Ireland have been identified as follows; Demographics, Technology, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Education & Skills, Social Values and Quality of Life, Globalisation, Infrastructure, Governance & Regulation, Energy supply & Security, Climate Change, Natural Resources, Conflict.

The report says that Ireland’s enterprise profile is changing with services, including tourism, likely to play to an even greater role in the economy of the future.  Ireland needs to build on its strengths as one of the world’s leading service exporting countries, and ensure that we prioritise the actions and investments that facilitate these enterprises.  It is essential, the report goes on, that we employ a long-term vision when addressing the immediate challenges of stabilising the public finances and the banking system, restoring cost competitiveness and achieving the essential flexibility to keep Ireland well positioned for the future.

Some tourism specific comments include:

– Ireland’s international connectivity (sea and air) will also need to be reviewed and revised as the global challenges heighten, while world trade continues to grow with emerging economies and the need for international mobility for business increases (pg 20).
– Improving air connectivity and seaport capacity infrastructures is also of high importance (pg 65).
– Air travel will be increasingly seen as a luxury (pg 86).
– Freight transport will move away from air to sea, providing opportunities for deep water ports, ship building and repair (pg 86).
– In an increasingly globalised economy national and international connectivity, coupled with effective internal connectivity, is critically important for access to markets, efficiency in supply chain management, labour mobility and in mitigating the impact of Ireland’s peripheral location (pg 114).
– A first-class infrastructure is vital to Ireland’s future competitivness.  Unless we make further improvements, our competitiveness will erode.  All demographic projections indicate continued further population growth.  We should plan now for first-class transport infrastructure and serviced that can meet future growth (pg 115).
– An integrated transport system should not necessarily be a public service investment only.  Other service and investment models, for example, the mobile phone industry with licence auctions and private investments, or the air industry with the impact of low cost carriers, should be reviewed for possible financing mechanisms (pg 115).
– The economic and social impacts of pricing mechanisms for transportation, including air travel for Ireland should be further considered to ensure users pay the full cost and that requirements for subsidy are clearly identified (pg 116).
– A long-term perspective is needed of Ireland’s key international connection requirements for commerce, tourism and social and cultural requirements, and how these are to be realised in the light of potential international regulatory constraints on fuel for air travel.  The importance of direct long-haul air access in addition to competitive short-haul services will need to be considered in the context of other developments in sea and rail transport internationally (pg 116).

This is a terrific thought provoking report from Forfás which can be accessed by clicking here.  But be warned, at 148 pages it does not fall into the category of “light bedtime reading”.  There is however a good Executive Summary on pages 3 to 12, and a short summary of conclusions on pages 128 and 129.

As an angry blogger on ITIC’s site said very recently (July 8th):
Unfortunately for Ireland it is the short-term political type of ‘leadership’ with no vision beyond 5 year terms that has dominated for far too long.  The greater long-term national good always seems to be sacrificed in favour of short-term fixes. This type of reactive governance achieves nothing apart from jumping from one fire fight to another while the real underlying problems are never properly addressed or solved.

Indeed.  And the Forfás report also concludes that courage and the capacity to take the longer term perspective are critical to achieving renewed economic stability as the pace of change accelerates.

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July 15th 2009

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