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Holistic Attitude Needed For Decision Making

A visiting international environmental expert says every decision we make comes with a trade-off and is urging New Zealanders to look at the impact of decisions across all facets of their lives.

Dr Peter Hardi is a senior fellow and director at the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg, Canada. Over the past decade he has been focused on sustainable development assessment and decision-making and the management of international environmental conflict.

He is visiting New Zealand as a keynote speaker at the Ministry for the Environment’s Information to Motivation Conference being held in Wellington from June 5 to 7. The conference aims to raise awareness about environment issues and establish ways to promote change.

Dr Peter Hardi says whether people are aware of it or not, every decision comes with a trade-off in another area, and it is important that these impacts are considered.

“Sometimes we may have economic development at the expense of social issues. What we are trying to do is to make these trade-offs very explicit. Decision makers can be given a tool to understand that there are certain trade-offs and what they do has a cost and to be able to determine exactly what this cost is.

“People have to take a holistic view of their activities – it is not enough to look at one significant area such as the economy. It always has to a more complex view.”

He says the key is providing tools so people can easily identify these trade-offs and then make informed decisions.

“There are special tools called indicators which are a measure of performance and progress towards specific targets. The challenge is to graphically illustrate the complex relationship among other issues such as environment, economic and development –then people can make informed decisions.”

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