The 13th OECD Rural Development Conference, hosted by Ireland’s Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) has kicked off this morning in County Cavan.

Overnight, a large team led by Department’s Dr. Andrew Forde put the finishing touches to conference arrangements and delegates arrived to a momentous Céad Míle Fáilte this morning.

The only Cavan man at the conference – Terry Hyland, CEO of Cavan County Local Development (CCLD) – gave a rousing welcome to all the delegates and congratulated the Department on attracting the conference to his native place. He was very appreciative to have the shortest commute of all 400 delegates. (Attendees have travelled from as far away as Korea, Colombia and Latvia).

Whilst addressing the subject of social inclusion and introducing the framework for its achievement in Ireland, he gave an incisive account of the achievements and challenges for policy makers and implementing bodies today.

• Proud Cavan man Terry Hyland, pictured on the right, welcomes the 400 OECD delegates to his native county. Photo by Joe Saunders.

Delegates were also presented with the Cavan case study of how the COVID emergency landed in the country and how a multi-sector response was swiftly mobilised involving CCLD, Civil Defence, County Council, schools and other agencies to address the food crisis in the county.

The attraction of the prestigious OECD conference and its 400 senior international delegates puts a valuable focus on rural policy here and across the globe.

• Mihail Dumitru, Deputy Director General, DG AGRI, European Commission, joins Carol Baumann, CEO of the Irish Local Development Network, and CEOs of local development companies from around Ireland at the OECD Rural Conference today. Photo by Joe Saunders.

Ireland and IDA Ireland are also here with trade stands to promote the wider message to delegates that Irish tourism and inward investment policies are also open for business.

• Former CEO of Clann Credo Paul O’Sullivan addresses a question to Mary O’Shaughnessy of UCC at the Social Economy session. Photo by Joe Saunders.

The theme of the Conference is ‘Building Sustainable, Resilient and Thriving Rural Places’. In the opening sessions, DRCD’ s Assistant Secretary, Fintan O’Brien outlined Ireland ‘Our Rural Future’s policy and emphasised how it has been adopted by the Government as a national policy rather than as an isolated piece of rural strategy.

The policy’s vision is for a thriving rural Ireland, guided by the needs and aspirations of people, rooted in the diversity of places and inspired by the many possibilities ahead and Fintan discussed the challenges and opportunities in ensuring a whole of government approach and some of the successes so far, particularly in the COVID and recovery environments.

The Conference was formally opened by Minister Heather Humphries this lunchtime and will be addressed by the Taoiseach tomorrow.

Opening the conference, Minister Humphreys said:

“The opportunity to host this important Conference reflects the ambitious nature of rural development in this country, with Ireland, and the Our Rural Future policy in particular, seen as a fine example of rural policy-making in action. I am very excited about Irish rural stakeholders having a role in shaping international rural development policy priorities.

• Minister Heather Humphreys greets Korean Minister Dae Chol Kwon.

Minister Humphreys added:

“We still have much to learn from our OECD colleagues, and I look forward to meeting our friends from all over the world, to exchange our views and ideas on the shared challenges and opportunities facing rural areas.”

• Minister Humphreys and staff from the Dept. of Rural & Community Development give LEADER the thumbs up at the Ploughing last week. Photo by Changing Ireland.

 OECD Deputy Secretary-General Yoshiki Takeuchi added:

“I hope policy makers grab the opportunities brought by long-term transformations and short-term shocks to work together across policy areas and levels of government to take action for thriving rural places”.

More information

(Source: Statement issued Sept 26th by Dept. of Rural and Community Development)


Our Rural Future

Our Rural Future is the whole-of-government policy for rural Ireland for the period 2021-2025. It represents a new milestone in the approach to rural development policy for Ireland and adopts a more strategic, ambitious and holistic approach to investing in and maximising opportunities for rural areas. The policy’s objectives will be achieved through the delivery of more than 150 commitments to be implemented across a range of government departments and agencies.



The OECD is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It is a forum of countries committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies of its members.


OECD Rural Conference

The OECD Rural Conference is a high-profile international policy and political forum for OECD member countries to discuss rural development in a holistic manner, with each conference having a specific thematic focus. The most recent was held in Korea in 2019 and focused on Rural Well-Being.