Members of the North West Strategic Growth Partnership met at the Everglades Hotel in Derry this week to hear about the work being done to take forward the North West City Region’s strategic opportunities for economic growth and prosperity.
The Partnership meeting was held between senior Government officials from both the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government and civic leaders and officials from Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council.
Members attending the meeting received updates on a range of thematic discussions that have been hosted by the North South Ministerial Council secretariat in relation to Economy and Investment, Higher and Third Level Education and Skills and Tourism and Health.
The group also had detailed discussions around the Strategic Vision and Regional Priorities/ Reviewed Memorandum of Understanding for the Third Level Education Sector in the North West City Region. Partnership Members also received a presentation on the innovative Regional Energy Agency which is progressing the green transformation agenda in the North West City Region.
The North West Strategic Growth Partnership is a unique structure that was first established in 2016 through the North South Ministerial Council, to provide support and discussion to the North West City Region.
Jointly led by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council, and chaired by the two Mayors, the meeting was supported by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD).
The Partnership is established in conjunction with and supported by The Executive Office and The Irish Government.
Jointly chairing the meeting was recently elected Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Councillor Patricia Logue, who described the Partnership meeting as extremely interesting and informative.
“This is a very significant meeting that is attended by very senior officers from government across the island of Ireland and I was very impressed with the level of work that is taking place on important issues relating to third level education and skills, tourism and health as well as the economy and investment.
“It is very encouraging to have senior Government officials around the table working in partnership to drive forward ambitious plans for our region.
“The meeting today was very interesting and informative and it was very reassuring to hear the work that is going on at a collaborative level to really develop and address the regional priorities for the growth and development across this North West City Region.
“It was also positive to hear at first hand the joint strategic approach on job creation and FDI promotion, our shared vision for further and higher education and a commitment to address cross border barriers and the challenges facing our local tourism sector such as the proposed UK National Border Act 2022 if it is implemented.
“I was also glad to hear about the commitment to review tourism signage and recognition that more works needs to be done in terms of collaboration to deliver better mental health services and how we can work collectively to explore the potential to utilise current North South structures for data sharing and development opportunities.
An Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Liam Blaney welcomed all participants and highlighted the significance of this unique partnership.
He said: “Collectively we are tasked with implementing joined-up cross-border initiatives to improve the North West City Region of Ireland.
“Since 2016 we have been working collectively as a unique partnership to support the region’s commitment to growth. I am proud of what we have achieved since this time.
Derry, Donegal and Strabane are inextricably linked.
“Our citizens live, work and play across this border area. We share common services, food, infrastructures and cultures.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Liam Blaney confirmed that today’s meeting was very informative and enlightening for all attendees, with the meeting highlighting the significant cross border collaboration that is underway in the region and the willingness on both sides for social, economic and environmental regeneration – and the balanced regional development of the North West.
Another key element of the meeting was an update from the Regional Energy Agency on what progress has been made in relation to progressing the green transformation agenda in the North West City Region.
Delegates attending the meeting heard how both Council’s are progressing with the Green Transformation of the NW City Region of Ireland Statement of Intent which aims to harness the transformative opportunity for ‘green growth’, enhanced sustainability and protection of our resources, and positions the region as a potential net contributor to important climate targets set by both Governments in the coming decades through achieving a critical mass of impact in terms of carbon emissions reduction, net production of clean energy, green innovation, and enhanced conservation and protection through collaborative cross-border approaches.
In the report delegates heard how the two Councils are working towards their overarching goal to become carbon neutral by 2045 by restoring, protecting and enhancing the natural heritage and biodiversity and working collectively to achieve strong economic growth through a circular economy, zero waste and resource efficient initiatives that will be supported by a range of strategies and projects under green infrastructure including regional energy, climate action and sustainable economy.
At the core of the regional commitment to Green Transformation is to drive forward leading innovations for regional development and economic growth alongside an improved quality of life whilst also sustaining the region’s natural resources, habitat and environment.
The Green Transformation Statement of Intent was developed via a multi-disciplinary working group of relevant departments and units within both Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council and facilitated by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development.
Extending a sincere thanks to everyone participating in the meeting, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council John Kelpie said it was more important than ever that these strong links with senior government officials are retained and re-emphasised the importance of collaboration.
John G. McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Donegal County Council also thanked all participants saying that this week’s meeting was hugely beneficial in further strengthening links between the two Councils, its partners and the two governments, reiterating that collaboration is key to successfully develop a City Region that is thriving, sustainable and prosperous.Tags: