The 28th EEAC Annual Conference took place over three days from Tuesday 27th October to Thursday 29th October. A diverse mix of experts, academics, councils and policy makers contributed to this exciting and unique event, which comprised of a mix of keynote speakers, panel discussions and spotlight sessions. If you wish to replay certain sessions or contributions, make sure to click here because the integral video registrations of the whole 28th EEAC Annual Conference are online now!
Bold action is urgently needed to fix our dysfunctional housing system and deliver more affordable homes in Ireland. This is the central message in a new report from the Irish National Economic and Social Council (NESC). That action should be focussed on bridging the supply gap by actively managing land and locational value for public good; and bridging the affordability gap by engineering-in permanent affordability.
Speaking on the publication of the report Dr Larry O’Connell, the Director of NESC said ‘the Council considers that ‘The dominant business model results in a land-price trap. Development is normally close to the margin of viability, and competition is happening at the wrong stage, within the volatile land market rather than in the housing market’.
The Council’s research concludes that fundamental change is required to move to a permanently affordable, stable and more sustainable system of housing. ‘Direct public-policy influence is needed now to make affordable development happen. The Council is setting out the actions necessary to bridge the key gaps in supply and affordability’ Dr O’Connell said.
The NESC report outlines actions under three headings. First, institutional change is required to ensure key public actors have a strong developmental mandate and the executive capacity to drive sustainable urban development, including:
- Establish the Land Development Agency (LDA) on a statutory footing as a matter of urgency with an enhanced mandate, including to provide land for social housing, and equip it with a planning role and the tools to assemble land and engage in direct development (including compulsory land acquisition/CPO, master-planning, and land value capture); and
- Create specialist teams, potentially within the LDA, to help local authorities undertake necessary, complex tasks around procurement, site-unblocking, CPO and master-planning.
Second, more impactful application of existing measures can spur more affordable development in the near-term, including:
- Establish a national cost rental programme at scale, with access to land on favourable terms, low cost finance, and with conditions to ensure that homes remain subject to public ownership the rents are affordable;
- Tailor the application of Part V to make it more effective by increasing the proportion which must be ‘affordable’ but tailored on a ‘county-by-county’ basis following housing-need/demand analysis, allowing 5 or 10 per cent increments, applying it to all housing units, and provide policy incentives for cooperation; and
- Introduce separate Serviced Sites Fund/LIHAF/URDF funding streams focused on high impact, in terms of the number of affordable houses provided and clear link to compact growth.
Thirdly, new solutions or ways of working around long-standing challenges must be devised, including:
- Tackle the persistent ‘on-off balance sheet’ conundrum by exploring with the LDA, AHBs and others the potential of a new affordable rental scheme that combines State and capital market investment, which can transition from being initially on balance sheet, to being off it;
- Examine how the State could be supported to acquire land—both zoned and undeveloped and not currently zoned residential—in designated development areas at existing use value plus some premium as per the Kenny Report and the All-Party Oireachtas Committee;
- Examine the use of Land Value Capture instruments, tailored to specific sites, that could be used by the LDA and other institutions; and
- Identify and systematically address any barriers (e.g. land value register) to the development and introduction of a Site Value Tax.
Further, the report recommends a national programme of flagship projects as an important method of demonstrating how a system-wide approach to change can deliver tangible results, and be a catalyst for innovation in the vital construction sector. (The full set of Council recommendations can be found in the report at www.nesc.ie)
Dr O’Connell said that prior to the Covid-19 crisis Ireland faced significant challenges in the housing sector including insufficient housing output, acute affordability pressures in the private rental sector and high unmet need for social housing. ‘The Council believes that the response to the pandemic, the Programme for Government, and the upcoming review of the National Development Plan provide a new context in which to consider urban development, land management, and housing supply and affordability’, he said.
Only if there is a fundamental change in the way we manage land can we reach the targets of climate-change mitigation, avert the dramatic loss of biodiversity and make the global food system sustainable. The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) proposes five multiple-benefit strategies illustrating ways of overcoming competition between rival claims to the use of land. These should be promoted by five governance strategies, especially by setting suitable framework conditions, reorienting EU policy and establishing alliances of like-minded states. Read More
The Annual Plenary Session (APS) of the EEAC Network (re-)elected five board members on October 30th 2020.
The APS elects a board to facilitate the functioning of the network. The board consists of a Chair (Mr. Arnau Queralt Bassa), Vice Chairs (Prof. Dr. Miranda Schreurs and Dr. António Abreu), Secretary (Prof. Dr. Eeva Furman) and Treasurer (Dr. Ron Hillebrand).
The board will start its work in the weeks to come, and will present the EEAC Annual Plan 2021 in due course. For more information click here
The President of Ireland, H.E. Michael D Higgins addressed the 28th EEAC Annual Conference on October 29th 2020. The presidents speech, entitled ‘Delivering a Just Transtion for all’ touched upon the concept a just transition, public investment, embedding the lessons from COVID, and just recovery.
The President underlined that ‘ COVID-19 has resulted in huge suffering and tragedy around the globe, but it has occasioned a near-widespread agreement on the necessity of public spending, and of a fundamentally new, socially, economically and ecologically sustainable, future. For us in Ireland, the NESC report is surely an invaluable departure point for deliberative dialogue on how we can best do this with the most favourable outcome for all. It offers a solid framework for ongoing discussion, but also the necessary action that can garner public support from all concerned’
Over three days from Tuesday 27th October to Thursday 29th October, a diverse mix of experts, academics, councils and policy makers contributed to the 28th EEAC Annual Conference.
Ireland and the European Union are committed to the transformation to a sustainable, inclusive, thriving net zero economy and society. This conference focused on how the principles of justice, fairness, equality and equity of a just transition can act as a lever and guide to shape policies and practices to deliver the transformation. NESC’s recent work on just transition and employment vulnerability was a valuable input to the days.
What was discussed?
The conference provided a forum for Irish and European colleagues to share perspectives, experiences and practices and develop a common understanding and concrete strategies for making progress. The conference shed light on how other countries are managing the transition process, with special attention paid to managing the impacts of climate policy that might disproportionately impact specific groups in society.
A conference outcome document will be provided in due time. Stay tuned
In its position paper the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) declared that the package of measures put forward by the European Council in July, with its 30% climate target and the financial assistance for those states and sectors hit especially hard by the corona virus crisis, contains many elements worthy of support. The RNE thus welcomes the proposal from heads of state and government as a sound basis for discussion. However, in the course of negotiations with the member states in the European Parliament further, improvements must be achieved.
In its position paper , the RNE recommends, among other things, that:
- The guiding compass to follow be that of sustainability, in particular the landmark announcements from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen regarding the European Green Deal and climate protection,
- The New Generation EU recovery fund be implemented swiftly, and;
- That the currently insufficient allocation of monies to international cooperation within the multiannual financial framework (MFF) be increased.
The RNE further welcomes the EU summit supporting the allocation of additional EU funds for sustainability-related topics, such as for expanding EU emissions trading. Own monies for non-recycled plastic waste as well as a digital tax and a carbon border tax are planned. These funds can, however, only be allocated if all members states give their approval. Read More
As set out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, a key task of the Climate Change Advisory Council in Ireland is to conduct an annual review of progress made over the previous year in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and furthering the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable economy and society by 2050. This is the Climate Change Advisory Council’s fourth Annual Review of progress on transition. Read More
During the European Sustainable Development Week and Global Goals Week in September, EEAC member councils organized a variety of activities. Among others, a series of interesting articles was published that focused on the relation between the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
With a co-authored editorial by EEAC Chairman Arnau Queralt, and two articles by EEAC members and partners (Eeva Furman, Chair of the Expert Panel for Sustainable Development in Finland + Sandrine Dixon Decléve, Vice Chair Club of Rome, Elise Buckle, Founder and President of Climate & Sustainability) an interesting light is shed on how systemic transformation for people, planet and prosperity might help us to emerge from emergency and how the Covid-19 pandemic is a test case to deal with broader sustainability deficiencies.
The articles were published in the IDEES Magazine. IDEES is the online magazine on contemporary issues edited by the Centre for Contemporary Studies an in-house think tank of the Government of Catalonia.
Letter on the promotion of international rail passenger transport endorsed by fellow advisory councils
Together with four other governmental advisory councils on sustainability and the environment, the Dutch Council on the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) has written a letter to the European Commission on the promotion of international rail passenger transport. In recent months, an additional four advisory councils (from Ireland, Portugal, Germany and Hungary) have expressed their support and endorsed the letter. The letter and the list of endorsements can be found here