Cork can become European Green Capital by 2025, says Cork Chamber president

Investment needed in sustainable infrastructure if city is to remain competitive

 

Cork has the potential to be declared European Green Capital by 2025 with proper political and business support over the next five years, president of Cork Chamber, Paula Cogan told Friday night’s annual chamber dinner.

Ms Cogan said there was no reason why, with proper planning and investment, Cork could not join cities such as Stockholm, Bristol, Copenhagen, Hamburg and Oslo in becoming a European Green Capital.

Only the second woman to serve as president of Cork Chamber, Ms Cogan said she was challenging government and business, as well as all the various stakeholders, to work to ensure Cork wins the award.

Ms Cogan said winning the European Green Capital should not be an end goal for Cork but rather a means of measuring first steps which would enable Leeside to differentiate itself internationally and be competitive.

“Fifteen years ago, 80 percent of people said they chose a company or job before a location,” she told the 1,000 guests at Cork City Hall, which included Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin.

“Today, 64 percent choose the city before they choose the company or the job. Quality of life, place-making (the planning design and management of public spaces) culture and economic resilience are the defining factors,” she added.

Ms Cogan said it was vital that sustainable infrastructure projects were delivered on time if Ireland is to retain its competitiveness, particularly with regard to attracting foreign direct investment.

She pointed out that 14,000 additional people have chosen to build their careers in FDI companies in Cork over the past 9 years and countless thousands have joined the momentum of indigenous Irish innovators.

“Companies have chosen to invest, their people have chosen to live here, their families to grow here. We must continue, to invest in our value add, our talent, our creativity and the strong foundations that uphold this City region.”

Ms Cogan warned about the dangers of what she described as “a pious objection culture” which is blocking progress, and she called for strong leadership and teamwork to help overcome such a culture.

“The race is competitive, yet we are training like amateurs. Timelines come and go. Our neighbours become the global leaders in offshore wind while our power plants creak.

“We talk about public transport but build no bus lanes. We set density targets, but we don’t enhance construction viability. Cork slowly begins to sprawl. If we want to stop playing like amateurs we need to stop acting like amateurs.”

She said if over the lifespan of the next national Government and current local government, “we do not comprehensively deliver cycle and public transport infrastructure and services, we have lost”.

Ms Cogan said Ireland and Cork would benefit from plans such as Ireland 2040, The National Development Plan and the National Spatial Strategy but they needed to be delivered upon.

“Tortuous planning and funding delays already frustrate progress on existing commitments. We need game changers now. We cannot afford as a society, as an economy, or environmentally to roll back on progress.”

She said the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy contains €3.5 billion for sustainable transport in Cork.

“This is welcome, but Cork needs the first €500 million now to deliver quick wins after a decade of under-investment,” she said.

“Tomorrow we go to the polls and in time we will have a new Government. Their every move will be judged. Ireland must win. And a successful, progressive, and sustainable Cork is the metric that will define us.”