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Sustainability


At the European level, what the pandemic has cast doubt on is the very fundamentals of European integration. The main features of the European Union, what could be described as its “pillars”, are these: the single market and freedom of movement, the euro and the Stability and Growth Pact, and competition and state-aid law. We can already look ahead and see that the post-crisis EU could be standing on very different foundations if the questioning of the three basic pillars continues over time or, conversely, it could just as easily go back to its old ways.  What will the world environment in which this happens be, though? Here there are four possible scenarios emerging.


A mature discussion needs to take place about the price of food and who pays for the additional production costs imposed by increased environmental and other conditions.This is an area where there is potential for collaboration between the environmental and agricultural lobby. Recent evidence of this can be found in the mutual opposition to the ratification of the Mercosur trade deal negotiated by the European Commission.


There is an urgent need for ambitious, cohesive and transformative economic policies and for Europe’s need to face challenges collectively, and in solidarity. But Europe must do more. The upcoming challenges are daunting: not just the ecological and economic failure brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and the risk of a debt-deflationary downward economic spiral,  but also the economic divergences that have led to the rise of anti-Europe sentiment, nationalism and populism; and the grave, even terrifying ecological risks that transcend borders.  


Social fairness and solidarity are more important than ever in the European Union if it is to meet the challenges of demographic ageing, climate change and digitalisation and deal with the aftermath of Covid-19.  This is according to the latest 'Employment and Social Developments in Europe Report ‘Fairness and Solidarity in the European Social Market Economy’. 

Social Justice Ireland was delighted to contribute to The Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland: Volune 15 2020 on the theme “Convergences and Divergences: Agriculture and the environment on the island of Ireland'.   


Social Justice Ireland 
welcomes progress in Budget 2021on carbon tax, and the commitment to ringfence this revenue for sustainability measures.  However we are still a considerable distance from a Just Transtion and the compensation meausures in Budget 2021 are not as comprehensive as they could have been.  

One of the objectives of Budget 2021 must be to support demand through Government capital expenditure.  In order to support investment and recovery, it is important that this capital spending is sustainable.  

The effects of COVID-19 will take the heaviest toll on the most vulnerable, both nationally and internationally.  The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - a series of 17 high level goals based on 169 targets and over 230 indicators can provide a framework to refocus efforts towards policies to directly help people and communities in the long run and to provide a pathway out of poverty.  In our latest policy briefing, we look at Ireland's progress towards the SDGs and provide a series of policy recommendations to improve it.

As we look towards the future and rebuilding our society and our economy we have the opportunity to ensure that our investment strategy reduces carbon emissions, creates a vibrant society and economy, and supports a just transition. Here we outline investment priorities for Budget 2021.

The commitment to using wellbeing indicators alongside economic indicators in the Programme for Government is welcome.  Creating a sustainable Ireland requires the adoption of new indicators to measure progress. To reflect this, the wellbeing indicators that the new Government has committed to developing must include new indicators measuring both wellbeing and sustainability in society, to be used alongside measures of national income like GDP, GNP and GNI.

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