Sustainable competitiveness

We must all learn to live, produce and consume within the physical and biological limits of the planet. To achieve this will require integrated and enduring governance, including brave social and economic measures. Ireland’s economy needs to strive for sustainable competitiveness, defined as the set of institutions, policies and factors that make a nation productive over the longer term while ensuring social and environmental sustainability.

We know from previous national statistics that excessive consumption can lead to significant wastefulness and other environmental burdens. The EU’s Eurobarometer survey of environmental attitudes notes that 94% of Irish people rate protection of the environment as fairly or very important, and 96% agree that they can play a role in protecting the environment. The governance challenge is to realise these declared intentions in displayed behaviours.

The State must consider market interventions and other policy instruments that correct market failures, and also both direct and where possible “nudge” (through elective and, in time, normalised value-based decisions) consumption and production behaviours towards a more sustainable outcome.