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Future proofing project launched at LGNZ conference

Future proofing project launched at LGNZ conference

How New Zealand faces up to dramatic changes over the next 30 years is the focus of a major programme of work launched by Local Government New Zealand at its 2016 Conference today.

Over the next three decades New Zealand will have to adapt to significant economic, social, cultural and environmental changes. Whether it’s coping with increased urbanisation and what this means for cities and regions, responding to climate change, or caring for our environment, big challenges lie ahead.

To spark discussion and encourage Kiwis to think about these issues LGNZ is launching the 2050 Challenge: future proofing our communitiesdiscussion paper.

The purpose of the 2050 Challenge is to identify the major shifts taking place in New Zealand to better understand the implications for local and central government. Once released the public will be invited to have their say on the issues and contribute to the formation of strategies.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says because local government is charged with place-shaping and the delivery of public services it is required to take a long-term view.

“Local government plays a critical role in planning for the long-term prosperity of our communities, so it is right that local government leads this kind of discussion,” Mr Yule says.

“We need to talk about these issues now, because we need to be able to respond to these issues now. The 2050 Challenge is an excellent starting point for achieving long-term sustainability.”

Work done by LGNZ so far has grouped the challenges into five major themes – urbanisation, liveable cities and changing demographics; stewardship of our natural environment; responding to climate change; equality and cohesion; and the future of work.

The 2050 Challenge was sparked by the Young Elected Members committee of New Zealand councillors. The committee sees addressing the long term shifts impacting our communities as a critical issue for a sustainable and prosperous New Zealand.

Young Elected Members co-chair Ana Coffey, Deputy Mayor of Porirua City Council, says the 2050 Challenge doesn’t provide all the answers but asks the right questions and gives everyone the opportunity to be involved in future planning.

“The 2050 Challenge is a framework for thinking about the future, and we will need input from all of our communities to develop strategies for dealing with the big questions,” Ms Coffey says.

The LGNZ Conference 2016 is being held in Dunedin from 24-26 July.

The five major shifts in New Zealand over the next 30 years:

Urbanisation, liveable cities and changing demographics

• By 2043 Auckland is expected to become home to a further 800,000 people, expanding to 40 per cent of New Zealand’s population. Other major cities are also expected to grow.

• Concentration in urban centres is expected to come with a ‘hollowing out’ of many mid-sized towns and rural areas.

• By 2050 the working age population will need to support almost double the number of people aged 65+.

Stewardship of our natural environment

• Our natural environment continues to be under threat, despite efforts in many quarters to halt its degradation.

• Since human settlement in New Zealand, nearly one third of native species have become extinct.

• The quality of water in New Zealand’s lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers is variable, and depends mainly on the dominant land use in the catchment.

Responding to climate change

• Changes include rising sea levels that will cause land loss through coastal erosion and storm events.

• Higher temperatures and changes to rainfall patterns that will affect economic activity and ecosystems.

• More intense tropical cyclones which increase the need for (and cost of) emergency response.

• Low carbon infrastructure and patterns of development are essential to future prosperity.

Equality and cohesion

• Inequality is difficult to measure, but looking at income levels and the concentration of wealth, inequality has worsened over the past 40 years.

• Research suggests that inequality reduces social cohesion—and moving from an area of high social cohesion to an area of low social cohesion is as bad for personal health outcomes as taking up smoking.

The future of work

• Automation holds the prospect of producing more with less—improving our nation’s overall prosperity.

• Achieving those benefits may require major structural changes in employment.

• Some have suggested that 46 per cent of New Zealand jobs are at high risk of automation before 2050.

• Jobs of the future do not appear to be like many of the jobs of the past.



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