Thinking Big – UCD student forum discusses Ireland’s future

By: November 11, 2013
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Thinking Big, a forum that looked at some of the biggest global challenges facing Ireland and the wider world in the 21st century, took place in University College Dublin over the weekend (November 9-10). The event was sponsored by the UCD Office of the Vice-President for Innovation.

Organised by a group of UCD undergraduate students, Thinking Big was held to encourage people to think differently about how they can help to shape a better future. 19 speakers, drawn from the academic, business and public sector communities, presented at the event.

Dr David Meredith, a senior research officer with Teagasc, discussed the long-term implications for future social and economic development of rural areas in Ireland, as a result of evolving settlement patterns.

“What we are seeing are trends that are fundamentally changing the distribution of key population cohorts in Ireland. The past 20 years have seen substantial growth of people aged between 30 and 49 living in ‘accessible rural areas’. These are good places to live for a whole range of reasons,” said Dr Meredith.

“Whilst these developments are, generally, to the benefit of accessible areas, it raises questions about the long-term viability of other rural areas. It is likely, given the trends observed over the past 20 years, that Ireland will be faced with the challenge of managing decline in other parts of the country.”

Other themes and topics covered at the forum included: climate change; energy sustainability; european union integration; food security; pensions crisis; urban planning and water scarcity.