Working Group to Explore Economic & Enterprise Opportunities In 2019, the Eastern & Midlands Climate Action Regional Office commenced working on a project to identify and promote the economic opportunities arising from climate action. This subject is one of the regional specialisms assigned to the office. The initial work in this area led to the CARO partnering with Offaly County Council and the office of the Midland Regional Enterprise Plan to host a significant national conference entitled Creating Economic and Business Opportunities from Climate Change. Building on the momentum generated by this event the CARO, in co-operation with the CCMA Economic, Enterprise, Community & Culture, established an interagency group to explore, identify and realise potential economic and enterprise opportunities, which in turn generate employment opportunities, from climate action. The key outputs of the Working Group are to explore how and to assist local authorities in both leading on and facilitating new economic and enterprise opportunities from climate action across the range of functions, services and activities delivered. Conference: Climate Action Economic Opportunities The local government City and County Managers Association (CCMA) are hosting a National conference event on 12th and 13th October 2021 entitled Economic Opportunities and Climate Action – Local Authorities supporting Enterprise. This event seeks to build on the success of the inaugural conference, held in Tullamore in October 2019 and will highlight some of the research work undertaken by the sector that explores how local authorities can, through reinforcing their economic remit, support, encourage new and existing business and enterprise to aid the transition to a net zero economy. The conference will feature speakers to set the policy context along with practical examples to highlighted how businesses are capitalising on new opportunities and becoming green pioneers through embracing the challenges of climate change. The support and facilitation of local authorities in these examples will be highlighted also. More information will be circulated closer to the event. Background The Local Government Act 1991 and the Local Government Act 2001 confers competence on Local Authorities to promote the interests of the local community in a range of areas including supporting and facilitating local economic growth and enterprise development. The Local Government Reform Act 2014 further enhanced the economic development role through the integration of the Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) along with a statutory requirement to prepare a Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP) every five years. This expanded economic and enterprise development role ensures that it is a cross cutting and integrated activity across the range of functions performed by local authorities, delivering an effective eco system for enterprise growth and development. Local authorities, as leaders of local development across social, environmental, economic, enterprise, community and cultural functional responsibilities are ideally placed to facilitate effective collaboration and deliver the necessary multi-agency responses to drive success. Through the preparation of Climate Change Adaptation Strategies, local authorities have recognised an opportunity, within their enhanced economic remit and through the work of the Local Enterprise Offices, to support, encourage and nurture new business and innovative ideas. These will seek to capture opportunities associated with environmental and technological advances associated with climate action and that support low carbon transition. This is reaffirmed in the Local Authority Climate Action Charter (Section 3, (r)), whereby Local Authorities commit to supporting Enterprise through LEO/LCDC offices to exploit opportunities which will arise from meeting the challenges of Climate Change. In addition, local authorities are key stakeholders of the nine Regional Enterprise Plans (REPs). The REPs are an integral part of Ireland’s enterprise policy, aimed at driving economic growth and delivering better quality of life throughout Ireland. As a ‘bottom-up’ initiative, the Plans complement national level policies and programmes emanating from a ‘top-down’ such as Ireland’s national enterprise policy, Enterprise 2025 Renewed and the Future Jobs Ireland initiative. They are informed by an understanding of unique local strengths, assets and opportunities and enable a more effective translation of national policy into regional and local strategies and consequent impact. Local authorities have come together to fund Programme Managers to ensure the delivery of the REPs and to drive new areas of collaboration. The REPs are dynamic documents which are both agile and responsive to facilitate new opportunities and to address emerging challenges, for example: Brexit, Climate Action, Digital Economy, and most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic economic impacts. Under the Climate Action Plan, DBEI has in turn tasked the REP Steering Committees to include ‘Just Transition’ as a standing item on agendas for all meetings. This is in recognition of both the challenge of the climate and digital transition in all regions as well as the importance of ensuring the presence of key stakeholders in contributing to transition. Initial Work Packages Maynooth University were commissioned by the Working Group to deliver two aligned work streams: A survey of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and Directors of Services with responsibility for Economic Development, on their awareness of, and capacity for, supporting the development of economic activity/ opportunities through climate action, and An analysis of European, national, regional and local policy and initiatives on the creation of economic opportunities from climate action relevant to the economic and enterprise remit of local authorities. Survey Findings Reports The Survey Findings Report can be downloaded HERE. Policy Analysis Report The full Policy Analysis Report can be downloaded HERE. The LGMA in collaboration with the Eastern and Midlands Climate Action Regional Office (CARO) and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) hosted a webinar about the economic opportunities arising from climate action in May 2021 to official launch the report. The webinar was chaired by Anna Marie Delaney, Chief Executive, Offaly County Council in her role as Chair of the ‘Economic Opportunities Arising from Climate Action’ Project Steering Group. Exploring Economic and Enterprise Opportunities from Climate Action The International Context for Irish local government In further support of the Economic Opportunities from Climate Action - Local Authorities supporting Enterprise project the working group commissioned research to be undertaken by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU). The research undertaken highlights examples of actions and projects undertaken in various jurisdictions and how local government systems are supporting economic opportunity based upon addressing the challenges of climate change and making the transformative transition towards carbon neutrality. The Research report on the International context for Irish local government on Economic and Enterprise Opportunities from climate cation can be downloaded HERE.