strategic approach

Visionweek NZ 2020 – day four

Visionweek NZ 2020 - day four

Visionweek - Some of the best and brightest minds from across NZ and the globe envision what the new New Zealand could look like.

Quality Living

One core theme to emerge from today’s discussion was the importance of community and the need to put people at the centre of all our infrastructure decisions, whether it be housing, transportation systems or electricity networks.

The idea of the 20-minute city, already being tested in Sydney and Paris, promotes the design of communities where education, healthcare, shopping and work are all within a 20-minute walk or bike.  Could this be the future blueprint for decentralised cities?

A number of the speakers spoke about housing and urban design and the importance of creating safe places for people to gather and connect and develop a sense of community. Sir Peter Gluckman noted the need to reduce the depth of control of bureaucracies on vulnerable people and enable communities to support themselves.

The importance of achieving quality living sustainably was also noted. Kate Boylan encouraged us to work with what we have instead of always focussing on building new.  Kirsti Luke and Tamati Kruger spoke of new design that exists in harmony with the environment: net zero water, energy, waste.

The newly established infrastructure Commission has been tasked with the job of developing a 30-year infrastructure strategy for New Zealand.  Community and wellbeing is at the centre of their thinking.  Their challenge – to balance the need for bold changes with strategies that are achievable and affordable.

Jon Grayson (CEO, InfraCom) noted the need to develop an infrastructure strategy that builds agility into our infrastructure systems.  Agility and infrastructure are traditionally quite juxtaposed.  So how can this be achieved?  We’ve been working with the critical infrastructure community since we began in 2004.  Over that time we’ve seen a gradual shift from infrastructure as an asset to infrastructure as a community service.  NZTA now see their role as ‘connecting people’ rather than building and managing roads.  Auckland Transport are focussed on ‘easy journeys’.  We need to take the next step and, working with community, design the next generation of infrastructure.

When we think about the resilience, adaptability, and agility of our built infrastructure we need to radically shift our thinking.  Are our centralised infrastructure systems suitable for the high change world we live in?  Do we invest in upgrading old systems or invest in new decentralised systems (grid electricity to household generation)?  How can we design houses that are adaptable to the changing needs of our communities?  Can we build transport systems that meet today’s transportation preferences with tomorrow in mind?

We need to be testing our decisions against multiple futures to ensure they are robust in the face of uncertainty.  We need to involve diverse stakeholders to get creative and relevant ideas.  We need to create an enabling regulatory environment that empowers new ideas and allows us to rapidly respond to disruptions and take advantage of opportunities that emerge through new technologies or crises.  And of course, community and wellbeing must be at the heart.

Visit #visionweekNZ for details of the speakers and to listen to webinar.

Visionweek NZ 2020 – day three

Visionweek NZ 2020 - day three

Sustaining NZ

The COVID-19 response demonstrated New Zealand’s leadership. Our leaders looked at the science and took early and decisive action to address the threat. We need to extend this approach to address other sustainability threats and opportunities that we face. That was the overarching message that we took from Wednesday’s Vision Week webinar entitled “Sustaining NZ”.

The initial COVID-19 recovery investment needed to be quick and relatively coarse – there simply wasn’t time to do otherwise. Subsequent waves of investment can and need to be more considered and nuanced. By applying a sustainability lens to our COVID-19 recovery actions we can ensure the very substantial investment being made is truly no regrets, maximises the benefits for future generations (from whom we are borrowing) and avoid locking us into costly or unsustainable pathways.

The speakers highlighted that while climate change is less dire in the short term, the long-term consequences are severe. Like COVID-19, the science is sufficiently clear, and the benefits sufficiently obvious, that early action is warranted. We need to address both emissions and adaptation to the effects, such as rising sea levels, more severe weather events (floods, droughts, wind) and bio-security threats. Failure to act will only increase the long term economic, social and environmental costs.

The opportunities for improving sustainability apply across the board, including infrastructure (three waters, transport, energy) as well as natural based systems such as agriculture and tourism were all spoken about. The point was made that businesses that embrace sustainability tend to be more profitable, in part because they are more forward looking and better prepared to take up opportunities.

A strategic approach is needed. Some investment decisions are easy and obvious – such as home insulation that delivers multiple benefits to the nation as well as home occupants. In some cases, wise investment may mean delaying large long-term investment decisions to ensure we are not locking ourselves into short-term fixes that we have worse outcomes in the longer term (Dr Carr gave the replacement on the Cook Straight ferries as an example).

Several speakers highlighted that changes are already starting and the need to stay ahead of the pack. Kirsti Luke and Tāmiti Kruger gave an example of looking at overseas technology and applying it locally. Similarly, Ian Proudfoot and Alan Sutherland emphasised the need to learn from others. NZ is blessed with resources and opportunities. We need to get creative, use local knowledge and innovation but also draw from overseas experiences and expertise to inspire and stretch our imagination and creativity. This cannot be left to Government, businesses are critical to this.

Much of the discussion was related to managing risk. This includes ensuring our investments are ‘no regret’ options.  It also means addressing issues such as the vulnerability of our supply chains highlighted during COVID-19, as mentioned by Alison Andrews. Being prepared for, and resilient to, low probability but high consequence events, such as pandemics, are part of being sustainable.

Leadership, consensus and a long-term approach is needed. The role of iwi in providing a long-term perspective was noted, as was the need to avoid the short-termism of the three year election cycle. Our sustainable future can be built on the shared values and vision that allowed us to lead the world in our COVID-19 response.

For us the speakers highlighted the tight coupling between resilience and sustainability.  To be sustainable and meet the challenges of climate change we need to be resilient to disruption, as well as be adaptable to a changing world.  We need to be inclusive, innovative, open to opportunity, flexible, and we need to move together towards a clear and common goal.

Go to #visionweekNZ to see details of the speakers and to listen to webinar.

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