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An Eye on the Future

An Eye on the Future

Keeping an eye on global trends and developing a long term strategic approach to infrastructure to manage the impact of these trends, are pivotal if New Zealand is to achieve its growth goals. That was the theme of the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board’s (GIAB) Future Insights Infrastructure Forum, held in Wellington on 5 November.

“The plethora of infrastructure problems which have emerged over the past year were a real wake-up call for New Zealand’s infrastructure planners and investors,” said Rick Christie, Chairman of GIAB. “There is a real need for more effective thinking and planning if we were to avoid similar problems arising in the future.”

The forum used a future insights analysis to better understand possible future global scenarios and the likely impacts on New Zealand, and to help mitigate risk. This would also create flexibility to respond to the unexpected. Some future scenarios were already apparent, e.g. the emergence of fortress blocs of countries, as were future trends, such as the competing uses of water, the growing importance of sustainability, and the looming need for some tough energy decisions.

These were some of the issues discussed in a series of workshops around New Zealand’s physical infrastructure needs 15-20 years hence.

The Forum was attended by over 80 participants from business and government and included some of New Zealand’s top strategic thinkers, policy makers and business leaders.

“The forum was not about dealing specifically with current pressures on roading, electricity generation or broadband. It was focused on the need for a long term strategic approach to decisions which involve large investments and long lead times, and which were the responsibility of both the Government of the day and the private sector.”

“Understanding future trends better means that both sides can look at how to factor-in the flexibility to enable us to respond more effectively to uncertainty,” said Rick Christie.

Mr Christie said that it would assist government to take a long term strategic approach to infrastructure and ensure a future preparedness focus.

“Infrastructure sits fairly and squarely alongside other crucial growth drivers such as an effective innovation framework, a skilled and talented workforce, and the need to increase our external trade and investment linkages.

“We will not get the right outcomes without good thinking and planning processes both in Government and business; and at the appropriate level, a consultative and maybe collaborative approach to the big decisions.

“I was impressed by the emerging acknowledgement of the value of taking a ‘whole of New Zealand’ approach to some of our investment in infrastructure, an example being the need to be smarter about improving coordination between different transport modes and hard infrastructure.”

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