Recovery, Renewal, Resilience

Lessons for Resilience

Consider rural infrastructure development priorities for recovery and renewal
Implementing recovery

COVID-19 has presented Ireland with an opportunity to balance regional and rural development. The government has responded with an ambitious five year policy which addresses both the challenges facing rural areas following the pandemic and the transformational opportunities that the pandemic presents for rural economies and communities. This lesson offers an overview of the key priorities set out in the policy, examples of the measures that will be taken to achieve these priorities and the sustainable development goals (SDGs) linked to the measures:

Optimising digital connectivity:

  • Investment in the delivery of the 'National Broadband Plan' to accelerate the delivery of connectivity in rural areas (SDG 8; 9; 10)
  • Implement a 'National Remote Work Strategy' through the creation of 400 remote working hubs (e.g. providing financial support to local authorities to convert vacant buildings/utilize rural pubs as work spaces during the day) to support the retention of skilled people in rural areas (SDG 3; 8; 13)

Supporting employment and careers in rural areas:

  • Design and implement nine new 'Regional Enterprise Plans' to support and promote the development of enterprise and job growth (SDG 8)
  • Providing support and assistance for the diversification of rural economics into new markets and sectors by capitalising on high speed broadband and new technologies (SDG 8; 9)

Revitalising rural towns and villages:

  • Prioritise short-term recovery rural development programmes and strategies to support rural towns to recover from the impacts of the pandemic (SDG 9; 11)
  • Implement a collaborative 'Town Centre First' renewal initiative to put town centres at the core of decision making (e.g. provide and resource dedicated local authority staff to support town centre renewal) (SDG 11)
  • Engage with 'Approved Housing Bodies' who are responsible for housing for older people to develop and deliver accommodation in town centres that is more suitable for those with reduced mobility (SDG 11)

Enhancing participation, leadership and resilience in rural communities:

  • Design and deliver a range of recovery and renewal programmes to support communities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises and charities to build resilience and increase their positive impact in the aftermath of COVID-19 (SDG 3; 10; 11)
  • Implementation of a 'National Volunteering Strategy' to support community-based volunteers and voluntary organisations (e.g. by streamlining grant applications for volunteer groups) and establish a permanent 'Volunteer Reserve' in local communities who can be called upon and deployed by the community, voluntary organisations and local authorities during emergencies (SDG 11; 17)

Enhancing public services in rural areas:

  • Review and update Rural Housing Guidelines for planning authorities, to tackle rural housing in a broader rural development and settlement context (SDG 11)
  • Introduce a new 'Policing and Community Safety Bill' to redefine the functions of policing bodies to include community safety (SDG 16)

Supporting the sustainability of Agriculture, the Marine and Forestry:

  • Provide support and assistance to local authorities to expand the number of farmer's markets, farm shops and support the formation of 'community-owned markets' in all towns, promoting local farmers, growers and food producers
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Consider evaluating and revising non-statutory guidance on emergency preparedness and management in light of lessons learned from COVID-19
Planning for recovery
Crisis planning

COVID-19 has shed new light on the way in which countries respond to, and recover from emergencies. This includes COVID-19 specific advice and broader lessons about emergency preparedness and management. For example, previous guidance on volunteer management has traditionally assumed a point of convergence at a disaster site, while this still holds true for many emergencies e.g. floods, lessons from COVID-19 demonstrate that volunteer management may also be dispersed, large-scale and without face-to-face contact. Consider how lessons from COVID-19 may help to revise emergency plans:

  • Conduct a 'stock take' of current emergency guidance, and consider what may be missing or no longer fit for purpose
  • Implement debriefs, peer reviews and impact assessments, drawing on expertise from local government and emergency practitioners, to evaluate how well current guidance worked and where it needs revising
  • Consider that emergency planning must remain relevant to specific types of emergencies, but that broader lessons from COVID-19 can help strengthen guidance e.g. issues of inclusion such as gender, ethnicity, sexuality; health and socio-economic disparities and vulnerabilities; volunteering capacity; supply chain stability; green agenda; and partnerships arrangements
  • Draw on resources beyond government guidance from global networks e.g. Resilient Cities Network's revised toolkit which builds recovery from COVID-19 into a wider resilience agenda for a safe and equitable world, and resources from International Organization for Standardization (ISO) which is developing new recovery standards in light of COVID-19 lessons (ISO 22393)
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