Anne Salmond: NZ can be a leader in forging brave blue world

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Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Many thanks to Element and The New Zealand Herald for publishing The Blue Economy: A New Business Paradigm.

Here, visionary Kiwi business leaders lay out a pathway to a future based not on sustainability (a niggardly concept), but on prosperity in the true sense, where businesses, communities and ecosystems flourish together.

As a small, globally connected, inventive country at the heart of the world's largest ocean, New Zealand can become a world leader in forging this kind of 'Blue Future'.

As Malcolm Rand, the founder of Ecostore, writes, "I'm going to be extremely bold here, and make a prediction that by 2050, New Zealand will have the highest Genuine Progress Indicator [GPI] in the world.

"By this time, GDP will have long gone the way of the dinosaur. NZ will be an example to the rest of the world and Kiwis will go out and partner with people around the world that request our knowledge.

And how will we have done this? By focusing on the critical things the world needs and we are in a unique position to offer."

What are these things? Above all, healthy, safe environments to inhabit, and healthy, safe food. Let me add my own bold predictions to Rand's.

By 2050, we will have clear, sparkling rivers, and coastlines that support thriving marine ecosystems. Kiwi farmers and foresters will have adopted ecologically clever ways of working with our rich variety of landscapes and climates, producing unique wines and food, wool and timber products that attract a premium on global markets.

Talented people from around the world will be eager to live and work here, creating wealth from enterprises that enhance rather than degrade the environment. Like GDP and fossil fuels, the idea that we have to choose between the economy and the environment will have been consigned to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

How did we achieve this? In a country where the vast majority of citizens desired this kind of prosperity, our leaders from across the political and economic spectrum set aside their differences, and honoured our wishes. They adopted a non-partisan approach, encouraging scientists, entrepreneurs, producers and other innovators to develop clever and affordable solutions to environmental challenges.

Like the leaders of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Kiwis from all walks of life saw that unless we followed these kinds of strategies, we faced environmental and social devastation. So we acted, for our own sakes as well as those of our children and grandchildren. We took care of our beautiful islands, and prospered.

There are other stories to be told about New Zealand's economic and environmental future, in which these risks and opportunities were ignored, but these have no happy endings.

Dame Anne Salmond is distinguished professor of Maori studies at the University of Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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