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Visiting American policy fellows to release research reports

Visiting American policy fellows to release research reports

This year's four Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellows in Public Policy conclude their seven month research projects this month by launching their final written policy reports at a series of public seminars in Wellington. The four American fellows have each been based at government agencies relevant to their topic of research, which include comparisons of New Zealand and American approaches to resource allocation for ocean renewable energy, disaster preparedness education in schools, corporate financial disclosure, and scientific influence on decision-making for marine protected areas.

Ian Boisvert, a renewable energy attorney from San Francisco, California, was based at the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), researching policy for the management of New Zealand's abundant ocean renewable energy resources - wave power, tidal currents and offshore wind. In his report Ian identifies inconsistencies and problems with the current system for allocation of coastal permits by regional councils. He recommends dialogue between ocean renewable energy developers and other marine users, a comprehensive assessment of offshore renewable resources by regional and national governments, and development of a new system of Tradable Occupation Rights for the various users of marine space, in order to reduce the likelihood of conflict between them and allow New Zealand to more easily recognise its offshore energy potential.

Victoria Johnson, former Policy Director of the National Commission on Children and Disasters in Washington, DC was based at the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, where she researched New Zealand's school disaster preparedness programme What's the Plan, Stan? with a view to informing the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Education's consideration of developing a similar single nationwide programme in the US. In evaluating What's the Plan, Stan? Victoria identified varying levels of uptake of the programme, but that those using it were very positive about the resource and its benefits within and beyond the classroom. Her recommendations include a more thorough examination of the programme's effectiveness, integration with other safety education programmes, and development of measurable outcomes-based strategies in both New Zealand and the US.

Jonathan Karp from the US Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, DC was based at the Securities Commission prior to its replacement by the new Financial Markets Authority, and then at the Companies Office. He researched the New Zealand government's model for corporate financial disclosure, including registration of public corporations and regulation of the publication of corporate financial reports. Noting that New Zealand often outperforms the US in studies of business regulatory activities, he recommends a number of organisational and operational changes from the New Zealand model which could improve transparency and accountability if adopted into the United States' financial regulatory regime.

David Wiley from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Scituate, Massachusetts was based at the Department of Conservation, where he researched how scientists can improve the "social power" of their research (i.e. its influence on decision making) for the management of marine protected areas.

By surveying the acceptance of information from various sources by different stakeholders in the marine environment, David disproved the traditional notion that scientific research is viewed as credible and unbiased because it is conducted in isolation from those impacted by its results. On the contrary, he found such research can easily be discounted by other stakeholders because of preconceptions and perceived biases. He concludes that inclusive research involving a "team of rivals" is most likely to be accepted by all parties and enacted into policy, and recommends a multi-stakeholder approach to research in order to maximise its acceptance.

The four Ian Axford Fellowship reports will be available to download from the Fulbright New Zealand website - www.fulbright.org.nz - following their release at the seminar series in Wellington from next week.


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