The inaugural Isle of Man Government Conference drew more than 1,000 people through the doors of the Villa Marina in Douglas on Tuesday and Wednesday (20-21 September 2022).
A range of presentations, panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions took place over the two days, enabling the event to fully live up to its billing as an opportunity for the Manx public to engage with political representatives on the big issues important to the future of our Island.
The main focus of the event was the Royal Hall, where Chief Minister Alfred Cannan MHK set the tone at the start of day one by delivering a key note speech on the 10-year Economic Strategy.
Setting a bold ambition to deliver prosperity, growth and security for the Island, the strategy aims to grow the economy to £10 billion by 2032 while creating 5,000 new jobs.
A lively panel discussion followed the Chief Minister’s address, prompting questions and feedback from attendees. An online consultation on the Economic Strategy remains open until midnight on Friday 30 September for anyone who would like to have their say.
Further sessions and debate followed in the Royal Hall, covering: climate change and the future of energy; healthcare provision; education, skills and development; sustainable finances; business growth; housing, communities and infrastructure; the built environment reform and brownfield regeneration.
Elsewhere in the venue, the Villa Cinema hosted spotlight sessions by a range of Government departments and agencies, as well as a panel discussion on taxation and the opportunity to present questions to the Chief Minister.
The event overall included contributions from experts in a variety of fields from both on and off-Island. This included Chief Executive at the UK’s Northern Powerhouse Partnership Henri Murison, who joined the event’s final panel session on the built environment and brownfield regeneration.
The foyer and upstairs landing area were both bustling with activity throughout the two days with opportunities to explore the work of specific departments, speak to senior officers and offer views on the how priorities should stack up for the current administration.
Reflecting on the event, the Chief Minister said:
‘I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who attended and participated in the conference for their contributions. The Council of Ministers recognises and values the importance of collaborating in different ways as we progress with Our Island Plan, and this event marks an important development as it’s something that’s not been tried before.
‘What’s crucial now is for me to discuss with colleagues the clear themes that surfaced during the event and the feedback supplied more generally. We will then determine how we can use this information to help us take sure steps going forward and build a secure, vibrant and sustainable future for the Island.
‘As the dust settles we will reflect on all aspects of the conference and how we can do things better in terms of content, format and timings. I spoke to lots of attendees regarding their reaction, but I’d still like to hear more from people on what they thought worked and how it may be improved in future years.’
Thanks go to sponsors and fringe event hosts Capital Group International, Deloitte, MTG, Chamber of Commerce, Best Energy Solutions, Construction Isle of Man, Gef and the Energy Sustainability Centre.