As I See It: Think long term; act short term

What are NZ’s major challenges for 2013?
I am concerned about the “long tails” of underdevelopment that will create greater disparities and tensions if not addressed. The education system performs well by international standards, but Maori and Pasifika boys in particular are lagging. Healthy and affordable housing is in short supply and on current forecasts will become even scarcer. Auckland is the powerhouse of the New Zealand economy and while it is important to have city of international scale, the provincial heartland regions cannot be left to decay. These are just three examples of gaps that are widening.

How well prepared do you think Kiwi business leaders are to face these challenges?
Companies are looking harder at the impacts of their business activities on the country. We need more of the positive impacts that improve the well-being of society, such as support of community initiatives and employment. We also need to mitigate undesirable side effects of business operations. An increasing number of business leaders recognise that investments in social and environmental responsibility have long-term economic return as well as societal impact. New Zealand is not as far along as other countries in adopting sustainability thinking, but awareness is growing.

What more could we do as country to thrive in the current global economic climate?
New Zealand could be more agile nation. We live in small entrepreneurial country that is stable and sophisticated. These advantages ought to enable us to experiment with new ideas, learn by doing and adapt quickly.
In order to be agile we need to be able to listen to multiple views, find common understanding and bridge gaps, and agree on action. This is not an idealistic dream – there are examples around New Zealand now. I am seeing greater willingness of business, civil society and government to work together rather than working in isolation. M

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