Finance Minister Grant Robertson was in Hamilton earlier this month to help start the process to develop 17 wellbeing targets for the Waikato.

The targets are based on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations in 2015.
Waikato is the first New Zealand region to undertake the ambitious project of developing its own set of SDGs that align internationally.

Community leaders are coming together to start the three-month goal-setting process which involves collaboration between iwi, government, business and community residents.

The result will be measurable wellbeing goals for the region to achieve by 2030.

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The United Nations SDGs are a blueprint that help governments, businesses and organisations achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address challenges affecting all communities worldwide, including poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice.

The Waikato Wellbeing project is a collaborative community project led by the Waikato Plan Leadership Committee, WEL Energy Trust and Waikato Regional Council.

Waikato Plan Leadership Committee co-chair Bev Gatenby says the purpose of the goal setting project is to leverage support from all sectors and all parts of the region to work together over the next 10 years toward a more environmentally sustainable, prosperous and inclusive region.

"Our focus is to identify the goals that will lead to stronger communities, those that help us navigate change and take advantage of opportunities."

WEL Energy Trust CEO, Raewyn Jones, says the goal-setting process will involve hundreds of community members region-wide from Turangi to Coromandel, Waitomo to Waihi.

"Our aim is to identify areas where we can work together as a community to achieve very specific, positive outcomes.

"We also don't want to reinvent the wheel, so we'll be building on research and community engagement work that has gone before us to help identify possible targets.

"As we've prepared for this critical goal-setting process, we've had interest from many people wanting to participate. The time for action really is now, and we're excited to get under way," says Jones.

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"The Waikato Wellbeing project aligns with Government's direction to put environmental, social, cultural and economic wellbeing at the heart of policy and decision making.

Once Waikato SDGs are set, it is expected councils, iwi, businesses and community organisations will use them to inform decision making and catalyse collective action toward shared goals.

WEL Networks is one company which already aligns its strategy to Sustainable Development Goals.

"A business can only prosper in the long term by being an integral part of its community," chairman Rob Campbell says.

"Like a tree in a forest we have no real value or meaning on our own. An initiative like the Waikato Wellbeing project, which aims to bring together the many living things in our forest which is Waikato, is an opportunity and a responsibility for businesses of all types.

The collaborative goal-setting phase of the Waikato Wellbeing project will conclude in October with a summit where Waikato's SDG targets will be confirmed and launched.

Following the confirmation of the goals, a detailed action plan and reporting framework will be developed which will integrate the targets and measures with regional and national reporting.

The Waikato Wellbeing Project is led by the Waikato Plan Leadership Committee, WEL Energy Trust and Waikato Regional Council. It is supported by Waikato Tainui, Trust Waikato, Hamilton City Council, DV Bryant Trust, The University of Waikato and Momentum Waikato.