Taoiseach lauds Ireland’s green economy strategy as Sustainability Summit starts in Galway

5 Jul 2012

Ireland's Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD

Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny is set to open the International Sustainability Summit in Galway this morning, whereby Irish and global leaders in the sustainable sector will be converging to discuss finance challenges and opportunities that are arising as a result of the global swerve to a low-carbon economic model.

Chief executives from clean-tech funds across the globe and investment management companies are also taking part in today’s summit.

The conference itself is taking place as part of the Volvo Ocean Race Business Expo that’s coinciding with the finish of the global sailing race in Galway Bay.

Ahead of today’s summit, Kenny spoke about the recently launched report, Our Sustainable Future, a Framework for Sustainable Development for Ireland

“The green economy and sustainable development agendas are a key element of Ireland’s economic recovery strategy. The framework sets out the range of environmental, economic and social measures required to move these agendas forward from vision to reality,” he said.

Kenny added how Ireland’s policy-makers, financiers and representatives from the enterprise sector will be coming together with global figures and companies in this space at today’s summit.

“This event demonstrates Ireland’s leadership role in bringing together key decision-makers globally to discuss and debate the transition to a low-carbon economy,” he said. 

The summit is being led by Green IFSC executive co-ordinator Stephen Nolan, who is also the chair of the Green Pillar at the ocean race finale festival.

Looking at green energy investments alone, Nolan said there has been dramatic growth worldwide, with some US$263bn invested in this space in 2011.

“This growth trend is set to continue with the global move to a low-carbon economic model set to be as significant as the Industrial Revolution. Ireland has every resource needed to be at the centre of this emerging marketplace, attract finance and create jobs,” said Nolan.

And, to add to the sustainability theme, Iarnród Éireann has supplied a special train free of charge from Dublin to Galway return for invited event attendees. The Green IFSC initiative has invited more than 100 top financiers and enterprise players in the sector to take the journey to Galway.

Nolan said the summit has been made possible as a result of the support of Coillte and other corporate sponsors, namely Bord na Móna, Volvo and KPMG.

And, as for Ireland’s clean-tech prowess, Ernst & Young recently issued a Cleantech Ireland report, in which it estimated the clean-tech sector alone has huge potential for the country.

By 2020, Ernst & Young said the clean-tech sector in Ireland could create nearly 80,000 direct and indirect jobs through specific national schemes, such as retrofitting, renewable energy and construction and boost GDP by €3.9bn.

As for Galway, the Global Village at the Volvo Ocean Race finale has been built around the theme of sustainability, showcasing what Ireland has to offer across four pillars of food, marine, innovation and green.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic