The Laurentic Forum 2020 has taken as its theme Sustaining Coastal Communities. Over the course of four days, we’ll be examining the common purposes and challenges that coastal communities face in the northwest of Ireland and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, finding and sharing best practices on the sustainable development of Coastal Communities in the peripheral North Atlantic area.
The Laurentic Forum provides a unique opportunity for all representatives, with involvement from a diverse group of attendees, from regional councils, governments, governmental agencies, to NGOs, private sector practitioners, community groups and educational institutions. Representatives from both regions will be coming together to explore best practice through shared learning, as well to discover potential collaborative projects through EU funding opportunities such as the Atlantic Area Fund, The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, LEADER and ACOA in Canada.
The virtual conference will explore sustainability in this coastal region under the sub themes of:
1.Opportunities and Challenges in The Blue Economy.
2. Tourism in a Time of Covid.
3. Digital Hubs & Social Enterprise: Advancing remote work in rural communities.
4. Overview on the Northern Periphery and Arctic Program for 2021.
The aim for The Laurentic Forum 2020 aims at dealing with the long-term sustainability of coastal communities and its inhabitants, as well as strengthening partnerships from across the regions of Co Donegal, in Ireland, and the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. There are a vareity of challenges that peripheral coastal communities face, including high unemployment, an ageing population, outward migration of youth and an urban rural divide.
By finding common purpose, through dialogue, Forum meetings will look at ways to collaborate more effectively in the future, as well as exploring opportunities to develop funding applications between the regions through programmes such as the EU Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme and the Atlantic Area Fund, in which Newfoundland is a participating non-EU partner, opening up opportunities for Trans-Atlantic partnerships and collaborations between the regions.
Also, with the newly introduced Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), between Canada and Europe, the cross-border Northwest of Ireland and Newfoundland can be gateway regions to each other’s markets. There is huge potential in this area.
Several potential benefits have been identified in developing relationships between regions in Eastern Canada and Northwest Ireland. These include:
1) The Laurentic Forum provides an opportunity for transnational partners and the Northwest Ireland region to learn from each other, giving opportunity for academic researchers, students and businesses to collaborate on research projects, student work placements and learning opportunities, and cross institutional exchanges.
2) It can also open up community engagement through the brokering of community to community conversations and provide an opportunity for governments and regional development organizations to learn best practices in developing a sustainable economy in peripheral coastal communities.
3) The forum gives an opportunity for private firms on each side of the Atlantic make contact with prospective joint venture partners. As the two regions share a similar natural environment and cultural background, this may in turn lead to a demand for similar products.
4) Each region can serve as a gateway into their respective continental trading bloc, with representatives in Newfoundland and Labrador promoting goods or services provided by Irish enterprises, and vice-versa. The forum can also identify ways to connect on CETA as EU and Irish markets begin to open up in the wake of the agreement.
5) The Forum encourages both regions to create a critical mass that can allow them to apply for Canadian or EU funding that might not be available to them separately.
The Laurentic Forum is organised and facilitated by the Ulster Canada Initiative with funding, sponsorship and support from the following organisations: