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New book on governing in an uncertain world

New book on governing in an uncertain world by Jonathan Boston

We live in a complex and uncertain world, one that poses unprecedented challenges for governments in democratic societies. Short electoral cycles, impatient voters, populist movements, ‘alternative facts’, 24/7 news cycles and powerful vested interests contribute to the often expedient and short-termist policy positions of those who govern.

How do we move beyond this to more considered, rational, long-term governance? How do we govern to guarantee that an appropriate balance is struck between the demands of the present and the needs of the future? In the memorable words of Al Gore, ‘the future whispers, the present shouts’. What can be done, in New Zealand and elsewhere, to instil a more robust and resilient ‘anticipatory governance’ culture in our public service and governing institutions?

Jonathan Boston’s Safeguarding the Future: Governing in an uncertain world is the latest illuminating addition to the BWB Texts series, and a compelling primer for anyone who cares about good governance and a secure, sustainable future.

Structured and written in a straight-forward and accessible manner, Boston diagnoses the ‘presentist bias’ that tethers too much decision-making to the here and now. He provides arguments for a more future-oriented political and policy culture and looks at some of this country’s most debilitating policy failures – superannuation, climate change, child poverty, housing, to name but a few. He identifies a number of the most pressing challenges ahead, and offers, in outline, policy and governance prescriptions for addressing such shortcomings.

Derived from Boston’s Governing for the Future: Designing Democratic Institutions for a Better Tomorrow (Emerald Group Publishing, 2017), a larger project on the causes, consequences and possible solutions to political myopia, this short book is a welcome antidote to the ad hoc rhetoric that threatens to substitute for serious thought on the critical business of democracy.

Safeguarding the Future will be launched at Parliament on Thursday 23 March, following an Institute for Governance and Policy Studies symposium, ‘Improving Intergeneration Governance’.


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