Since the onset of COVID-19, there have been many people re-imagining Aotearoa and questioning our vision for Aotearoa. The surrounding kōrero is about how we can combat the many challenges we face: climate crisis, ecological breakdown, inequality, systemic racism, housing unaffordability etc. A Commission for the Future can assist in this kōrero.
This is not a novel idea, in the late 70’s and the early 80’s, New Zealand had its very own Commission for the Future. The Commission for the Future was a state-funded think-thank. During its short lifespan, the Commission for the Future carried out valuable and forward thinking work to support Aotearoa.
One of the Commission for the Future’s report looked into understanding New Zealanders values, goals and aspirations for New Zealand. From the report emerged a number of national priorities, including:
- Sustainable use of natural resources
- Adequate food, shelter, clothing, health care and education for all
- Achieving a better quality of life: material, social and environmental.
40 years later these goals are still valid as we are yet to achieve them. A Commission for the Future that has a long-term mandate and seeks to obtain cross-party accord would support long-term planning. As it will not be at the whim of short electoral cycles, it will prevent political flip-flop and will help us make substantial progress towards our collective vision.
Re-creating a Commission for the Future would be invaluable; it could support Aotearoa to define its vision, offer intergenerational strategic direction for achieving the vision, and provide futures thinking insights so that we are not blindly navigating the challenges of the 21st century.