Amidst a cluster of events, the 9th annual meeting of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) LEED (Local Economic and Employment Development) Forum heads for the Irish capital on the 26th and 27th March 2013.
There, some 200 local partnerships, Government officials, community leaders, social entrepreneurs, business people and academics will convene to focus on the theme of “ Implementing change: a new local agenda for jobs and growth.”
The event title reflects the state we are in. Jobs and Growth remain the priority – particularly in Member States like Ireland, which have felt the full force of the Crisis. But there appears to be a growing consensus that jobs and growth are unlikely to come unless we adopt some fundamental changes. Thus, the reference to “a new local agenda.”
And that local dimension is also significant. Glancing through the OECD programme, there are dog-whistle messages relating to the need for homegrown and bottom-up responses to our problems:
- “Delivering local development: strategy, system and leadership”
- “Supporting high growth firms”
- “Making shrinking communities more resilient”
In Ireland, for so long the Celtic tiger with its strong track record in attracting Foreign Direct Investment, the shifting emphasis reflects the changing mood music and the likely basis for stable home-led growth. And the two-split venue – between Dublin and Kilkenny – underlines not only Ireland’s strong affinity with its rural heartlands but also the interdependence between town and country. The messages around the rurban agenda in the EU’s Draft Regulations indicate that the Irish are in tune with Commission thinking here.
So what does URBACT hope to get out of this event – and what do we think we can contribute?
Of course we are going to listen, with the intention of learning from our colleagues across Europe and beyond. One of the most refreshing aspects of the OECD LEED events is their global reach and the fact that they attract delegates from all of Europe, as well as other continents. Last year in Berlin we had some sparkling inputs from stars of the future in Europe. From further afield, Sally Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer of the National Employment Services Association in Australia, shared insights into developments in Australia, and we heard from Nidya Neer, Advisor to the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security of Argentina about how Argentina had addressed its economic crisis of the 90s. The prolonged Crisis can make us introspective, so it’s good to be reminded that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
These inputs were alongside a strong plenary programme, which this year includes Laszlo Andor, European Union Commissioner for Employment, Social affairs and Inclusion and Irish Jobs Minister Richard Bruton.
So what can URBACT bring to this debate?
A great deal, we hope. This will be one of the first opportunities for us to share the findings of our Workstream activity and two of our themes – Jobs and Growth and Youth/Social Innovation – will be well represented. Mike Campbell, URBACT expert, will be speaking about the steps cities can take to grow jobs and sustain employment whilst I will be talking about the way in which municipalities can transform themselves to kick-start innovation and tackle the youth crisis. In addition, two of our case cities – Swindon and Copenhagen – will be sharing their experience in innovative service redesign for better results.
So, this looks like being a major event for us, where we can test out our thinking and share URBACT results with a wider global audience. You can keep track of the debate by following Mike (@mikecampbell3) and me (@Eddyca1) on Twitter and by checking the event hashtag #JobsandGrowth.
by Eddy Adams, URBACT expert
If you wish to read more on URBACT results on the topic, you can check out the articles by Mike Campbell and Eddy Adams in the 2012 URBACT Tribune.
Photos via Wikimedia Commons : Dublin by By Hans-Peter Bock firstname.lastname@example.org (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/), Kilkenny by Andreas F. Borchert [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en), CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)