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University community voices the need for a revolution for New Zealand’s natural capital

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11 June 2020

University of Auckland students and staff were recently given the opportunity to influence the thinking of New Zealand government and business leaders on creating a sustainable and inclusive New Zealand. The Future Voices Forum was a workshop organised by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Aotearoa Circle. A group of 68 participants were canvased on their thoughts and concerns regarding Transport, Food and Energy. The results were reported back to CEOs from organisations such as ASB, Mercury, Sanford and Treasury at the related Fenwick Forum event.

The Forum was created in response to the ongoing global pandemic. The decline of New Zealand’s natural capital and the need to create a way forward to ensure sustainable prosperity was already of concern to many. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for new ways of thinking and doing as New Zealand’s economic foundations are challenged. Along with the challenges have been the benefits of an entire country forced into human-centred design. As one participant said, “It shocked me that it took COVID-19 for the public transport timetable to be aligned to the shifts of hospital workers”.

Participants in the Forum came from a wide range of study disciplines. They had the opportunity to opt into a workshop stream that they most related to and discussions in Zoom breakout rooms were guided with the support of facilitators from the University of Auckland’s Business School, the Ministry for the Environment and design thinking consultancy DNA.

Three alumni from the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship have been tasked with reporting back to business and government around insights and ideas from participants. One of the youth leads Charlotte Hoonhout said that the overall impression was that there is a generation of citizens who have a lack of trust in established systems and who are frustrated that solutions aren’t being delivered at pace.

Associate Director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Darsel Keane, who managed delivery of the Future Voices Forum says it was exciting to have the opportunity to reflect and think on what a sustainable and inclusive New Zealand looks like. “We have an opportunity in NZ to reflect on how we create our future and how we balance the environmental, societal and economic elements. As always I am inspired by the energy, knowledge and passion both the students and the University as well as the researcher community.”

Some insights from the Future Voices Forum

Food

  • Participants expressed a radical low tolerance for waste throughout the food system, from production all the way through to transport and consumption. Discussions focused around the need for a circular economy. An example given was log cut offs being used to grow mushrooms then as the log decomposes it feed the earth.
  • Companies should look to add value to perishable food and make use of it rather than it go to waste. We need to respond to differences in seasons and make more of gluts.
  • Concern expressed for the loss of land ideal for food production to urban sprawl. New Zealand should look to covenants or subsidies to safeguard land instead of altering land not fit to purpose for growing. Rather than chemically altering land and using irrigation we should look to indigenous knowledge and customs of growing what makes sense.

Energy

  • Energy is a human right. Energy poverty is real and needs to be addressed.
  • Renters as well as home owners should be compensated and incentivized for good decision making around power consumption.
  • New Zealand needs to radically upskill it’s talent around energy. New Zealand needs to be more ambitious and future-focused in planning capability around energy so we can be at the forefront of energy innovation.

Transport

  • Public transport is a public embarrassment and New Zealand is still designed for cars not people. Roads are not the answer. New Zealand needs better urban planning that designs for the future, and does not just attempt to solve short-term problems.
  • One public transport system for Aotearoa would provide enhanced efficiency.
  • Mobility patterns can and should change. COVID-19 encouraged New Zealanders into working from home. There is an opportunity to not revert to the status quo and encourage people to continue working locally and reduce burdens at peak times.

Watch alumni from the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship recap the insights and ideas from participants.

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson

social media

11 June 2020

University of Auckland students and staff were recently given the opportunity to influence the thinking of New Zealand government and business leaders on creating a sustainable and inclusive New Zealand. The Future Voices Forum was a workshop organised by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Aotearoa Circle. A group of 68 participants were canvased on their thoughts and concerns regarding Transport, Food and Energy. The results were reported back to CEOs from organisations such as ASB, Mercury, Sanford and Treasury at the related Fenwick Forum event.

The Forum was created in response to the ongoing global pandemic. The decline of New Zealand’s natural capital and the need to create a way forward to ensure sustainable prosperity was already of concern to many. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for new ways of thinking and doing as New Zealand’s economic foundations are challenged. Along with the challenges have been the benefits of an entire country forced into human-centred design. As one participant said, “It shocked me that it took COVID-19 for the public transport timetable to be aligned to the shifts of hospital workers”.

Participants in the Forum came from a wide range of study disciplines. They had the opportunity to opt into a workshop stream that they most related to and discussions in Zoom breakout rooms were guided with the support of facilitators from the University of Auckland’s Business School, the Ministry for the Environment and design thinking consultancy DNA.

Three alumni from the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship have been tasked with reporting back to business and government around insights and ideas from participants. One of the youth leads Charlotte Hoonhout said that the overall impression was that there is a generation of citizens who have a lack of trust in established systems and who are frustrated that solutions aren’t being delivered at pace.

Associate Director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Darsel Keane, who managed delivery of the Future Voices Forum says it was exciting to have the opportunity to reflect and think on what a sustainable and inclusive New Zealand looks like. “We have an opportunity in NZ to reflect on how we create our future and how we balance the environmental, societal and economic elements. As always I am inspired by the energy, knowledge and passion both the students and the University as well as the researcher community.”

Some insights from the Future Voices Forum

Food

  • Participants expressed a radical low tolerance for waste throughout the food system, from production all the way through to transport and consumption. Discussions focused around the need for a circular economy. An example given was log cut offs being used to grow mushrooms then as the log decomposes it feed the earth.
  • Companies should look to add value to perishable food and make use of it rather than it go to waste. We need to respond to differences in seasons and make more of gluts.
  • Concern expressed for the loss of land ideal for food production to urban sprawl. New Zealand should look to covenants or subsidies to safeguard land instead of altering land not fit to purpose for growing. Rather than chemically altering land and using irrigation we should look to indigenous knowledge and customs of growing what makes sense.

Energy

  • Energy is a human right. Energy poverty is real and needs to be addressed.
  • Renters as well as home owners should be compensated and incentivized for good decision making around power consumption.
  • New Zealand needs to radically upskill it’s talent around energy. New Zealand needs to be more ambitious and future-focused in planning capability around energy so we can be at the forefront of energy innovation.

Transport

  • Public transport is a public embarrassment and New Zealand is still designed for cars not people. Roads are not the answer. New Zealand needs better urban planning that designs for the future, and does not just attempt to solve short-term problems.
  • One public transport system for Aotearoa would provide enhanced efficiency.
  • Mobility patterns can and should change. COVID-19 encouraged New Zealanders into working from home. There is an opportunity to not revert to the status quo and encourage people to continue working locally and reduce burdens at peak times.

Watch alumni from the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship recap the insights and ideas from participants.


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