ICLRD Successfully Completes 3-Year Program

In a recent visit to Boston the An Taoiseach of Ireland, Enda Kenny, highlighted the work of the Institute in remarks at the Irish American Partnership Breakfast on February 2012.   ‘Universities and research centers also have a key role to play in the peace process. A recent example is the work undertaken by the Institute for International Urban Development, based here in Cambridge, in developing new models of cross-border cooperation between local authorities in the Irish border region.’   This mention by the Taoiseach comes at the close of the first phase of a three-year program, the Cross-Border Spatial Planning Development and Training Network that is financed by the European Union through the Special EU Programmes Body. The Institute, as a founding member of ICLRD was involved in a suite of linked activities that support the long-term peace process including:
  • Executive Training for senior council officials, elected representatives and the private sector tailored help governments and the business community in shaping their local and regional development agendas.
  • Technical Assistance to reinforce strategic directions and follow-up on action plans developed through training and applied research. An example is the drafting the precedent-setting Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the cross-border local governments of Newry and Mourne District Council and the Louth Local Authorities.  The MOU has been recognized by senior officials working on European cross-border cooperation as a model of good practice. We have continued this type of support to local governments involved in the NW Gateway Initiative and the spatial planning initiative in the Irish Central Border Region.
  • Applied research to tackle emerging topics on North/South cooperation such as shared services and the management of international river basins.
  • Evidence-based Planning and Mapping research with the All-Island Research Observatory is filling in information gaps in three key areas of cooperation: housing, the index of deprivation and access to services. The data and mapping tools are available online to practitioners, researchers, and policy-makers.
  • The Conferences and Technical Workshops provide a forum for policy-makers, practitioners and the academic community to engage on North/South and international practices.
  • The publication of Borderlands, The Journal of Spatial Planning in Ireland and briefing papers provides a platform for high quality articles by experts on emerging issues impacting local and regional development on the island of Ireland.
  These activities are designed to be closely linked and reinforce each other highlighting a core value of ICLRD—its work is ‘cross-border, cross- disciplinary and cross-campus’.  The Institute provides important linkages to international good practices in local and regional development.  This year Senior Research Associates Linda Shi and Kendra Leith undertook research and developed case studies on shared services, highlighting good practices from New York State and the management of river basins that cross-jurisdictional boundaries drawing on the role of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to coordinate the activities of multiple local governments to improve the Connecticut River Basin. Senior Research Associate Daniel Tsai and Research Associate Carolina Morgan designed and developed the ICLRD web site and the resource sites for participants in the Executive Training Program. This is an important part of ICLRD’s mission, making resources available. Karen Keaveney of Queens University Belfast was a visiting senior research associate this year and took part in research in shared services drawing on Canadian good practices.   Francois Vigier, President of the Institute continued in his active role as one of the ICLRD Directors. John Driscoll, Vice-President of the Institute continued in his role of managing ICLRD activities with his Irish colleagues from the National Institute of Spatial and Regional Analysis at Maynooth, University of Ulster and the Centre for Cross-Border Studies. John and Linda edited the Second edition of Borderlands, The Journal of Spatial Planning in Ireland, launched at the Seventh Annual ICLRD Conference in January. John’s role in developing the MOU between the cross-border local authorities was acknowledged by his colleagues in Ireland when he was presented with a signed copy of the MOU at the 2012 ICLRD Annual Conference.