October 27th, 2023
I was honoured to be invited by Kilkenny County Council to launch Full Forward Kilkenny 2030, our new vision for a Kilkenny that is climate-resilient, nature-rich, connected, inclusive and community-orientated - a place where everyone is welcomed and valued.
We had a lovely morning in the Medieval Mile museum, where we came together to consider and discuss what it is that we value, as a city and a county, moving forward - both the tangible and the intangible factors that underpin our sense of community, our sense of security, and our sense of ourselves.
As a road map to guide us towards a more sustainable future, the Full Forward vision represents an important piece of work, because it involved significant consultation and engagement with communities around Kilkenny, including businesses, citizens and other stakeholders. For me personally it was no surprise to see climate at the heart of the Full Forward strategy, and to know that our citizens and our communities put it there.
Increasingly we’re all being confronted with the stark reality that climate change is not some far off problem for another generation to manage and solve – it’s here, it’s happening, it’s threatening our homes, businesses and communities; our food security and our way of life; the natural world we rely on. As the Green Party told the electorate in 2020, this has to be a decade of very significant change, and much of that change has to be well underway by that critical year of 2030.
More than at any other time in our history, the decisions we’re making now will have unimaginably serious ramifications for our lives up to and beyond 2030, and for generations ahead. What we do now, we do to ready ourselves as a people and as a nation for what is to come. Climate resilience is now at the heart of everything we have to achieve and everything we are working towards – our climate IS changing, we ARE being hit with the impacts of that right now, and it’s incumbent upon us to make every effort to ensure that we are ready to manage, mitigate and reduce those impacts from here on out.
Change of such magnitude – real, radical system change - can only occur from the top down AND the bottom up, when communities are supported to drive the change that they want to see, and I'm heartened to see Kilkenny County Council engage with our local communities on how we can best achieve it together.
To stay the course and deliver on this vision will require political courage and leadership at every level, from our Council Executive to our elected representatives, but I believe that Local Authorities are one of the most important actors in the State for driving change on key issues like climate action, nature restoration, transport, mobility, housing and health.
What we need to see now is bold and ambitious delivery in line with what our communities have identified as their priorities. That delivery is not without its challenges, but it's clearer than ever that the future people want for themselves and their children is a safe, thriving, inclusive and sustainable county and city. We can all work together to get there.
Watch RTÉ's coverage from the launch below.