Yesterday, Jacqui and I had the opportunity to attend the 2021 New Zealand Economic Forum, hosted by the University of Waikato & Waikato Management School in Hamilton.
Having spent several months working on this week’s AgriFoodTech Climate Summit announcement, it was good to be able to focus on some of New Zealand’s post COVID-19 macro economic challenges as well as network in-person with a number of new and familiar faces.
The Forum attracted a number of highly experienced speakers. Among them;
- Professor Neil Quigley – Vice Chancellor, University of Waikato and Chair of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
- Gr Ganesh Nana – Chair, New Zealand Productivity Commission
- Professor John Gibson – Professor of Economics, University of Waikato
- Hon Grant Robertson – Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
- Dr Eric Crompton – Chief Economist, The New Zealand Initiative
- Cameron Bagrie – Economist at Bagrie Economics
- Professor Paul Dalziel – Professor of Economics, Lincoln University
- Rt Hon Sir Bill English – Former Prime Minister of New Zealand
The Forum’s subhead was ‘Finding the right policy mix in the post-Covid world’.
The subtext that emerged from the day’s event that most caught my attention however really took hold during the final panel discussion involving Crompton, Bagrie & Dalziel. They introduced a concept that in Wellington is known as the ‘Policy Authorising Environment’. This was new to me.
Essentially it means that Ministers and their senior officials, will often fail to support policies because they contain an element of risk. This has, in the view of the panel, led to a lack of public sector policy experimentation. Whilst the private sector has frequently been urged to take rapid and agile steps to address disruption by shareholders / investors, government by contrast has no such oversight and is therefore much more risk averse. Incremental change rather than transformation change is therefore often the preferred option. Given the Forum’s subhead, in a post-COVID world, will this approach be enough?
One interesting example given related to The Living Standards Framework which represents the Treasury’s perspective on what matters for New Zealanders’ wellbeing, now and into the future. Treasury considered the role of ‘innovation’, but deferred any inclusion of ‘innovation’ into its recommendations to a consultation process to be completed in 2022. One would frankly hope that innovation and growth would be at he heart of any productivity and wellbeing settings. The fact that Treasury deferred on this is I guess a good example of the ‘Policy Authorising Environment’ at work.
The discussion around ‘public policy settings’ came up a number of times during the day. A common held view was that there are not enough enabling frameworks being developed by the public sector. As New Zealand emerges into a post-Covid world, developing such frameworks should be a priority. Otherwise we might all just suffer from Cameron Bagrie’s quote of the day, From a government perspective, “failure is simply deferred achievement”.
Today, the guest list of quality speakers continues with Adrian Orr, Governor, Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Vittoria Shortt, CEO, ASB Bank, joining the list.
The most anticipated session for me is the panel discussion on Economic Policy and the Environment – challenges and opportunities. Vicky Robertson, Chief Executive, Ministry of Environment is being joined by Matt Burgess, Senior Economist of the New Zealand Initiative and Dr Victoria Kahui from the University of Otago. Robertson sits on the new public sector Climate Change Chief Executive Board and co-chairs Aotearoa Circle. Whilst there was occasional reference to climate change and its long term impact by speakers yesterday, this is the one session where I expect the subject to dominate.
It comes as the government has announced an extension to the submission date for feedback on the Climate Change Commission’s Advisory to government. Wharf42 intends to submit a response to this call. In this spirit, I hope that today’s panel discussion focuses on the ‘walk’ and not just the ‘talk’.
The time for taking positive and real action has come.
The E Tipu 2021 Boma NZ Agri Summit is slated to be the largest focused agritech event in New Zealand this year. E Tipu 2021 is designed to bring together people who work across New Zealand’s entire food and fibre sector, from the start of the supply chain to the finished products.
If you’re a farmer, producer, innovator, supplier, researcher, educator, student, government or finance worker looking at how to grow Aotearoa’s agriculture industry amidst exponential changes, you won’t want to miss it.
The programme is well advanced with a number of local and international speakers taking to the stage and of course, the family favourite, ZOOM. With funding support from major partners including Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, the Ministry of Primary Industries and ChristchurchNZ, E Tipu 2021 is going to absolutely rock!
I’ve been fortunate to have been invited to join a few other amazing people to engage in the event’s ‘Brains Trust’. We are working with the conference organisers to help develop the programme and identify leading experts to help deliver it. To provide a platform for maximum delegate engagement, as well as the main plenary conference, the event will host both interactive sessions and workshops.
Back though to the Super Early Bird Pricing. Buy your ticket before 31 January (i.e. this week) and pay $599, plus GST. Buy after 1 February and pay $699, plus GST. Buy after 20 March and pay $799, plus GST. Buy after 1 May and pay $999, plus GST.
You can book your Super Early Bird ticket here.
The team at Wharf42 will be attending and we very much hope to see you in Christchurch. In 2019, over 600 people attended the inaugural Boma NZ Agri Conference. This year, I’m expecting a larger number of attendees as progressive New Zealanders seek to support Aotearoa’s food and fibre ecosystem thrive in a changing world.
The Surprise Package?
And there is of course that possibility that those progressive New Zealanders could be joined by a bunch of progressive Australians. It’s interesting that the last formal offshore agritech mission undertaken by kiwis pre-lockdown was to the 2020 evokeAG conference in Melbourne. If our borders with Australia are re-opened before May (quarantine-free), I would expect a number of our friends across the Tasman to take the flight to Christchurch.
I discussed the opportunity at a recent Australian Agritech Association board meeting and the interest was obvious. With the evokeAG conference in Perth now postponed until February 2022, it would be a great opportunity to accelerate the trans-Tasman opportunity. And great for New Zealand to host!
If you want to learn more about the ongoing development of the Wharf42 Insights Programme and other initiatives currently being kept under wraps, please sign up for our free Monthly Newsletter
Wharf42 is delighted to be an official sponsor of the Bridge Hub 2020 trans-Tasman Water Challenge. At 2.00pm this Friday (30 October), you can join us online as we announce the winner of the New Zealand start-up category.
We will be joined in person by the other New Zealand official sponsor, Zespri, who will be announcing the winner of the New Zealand research category.
The Water Challenge has attracted an amazing array of start-ups and research projects from around both Australia and New Zealand. Water is one of our most critical natural resources and with climate change creating more extreme weather events, including extended periods of drought, it is one of agriculture’s #1 issues. The 2020 Water Challenge has produced a wide range of exciting solutions designed to tackle the key issues of water availability, management and quality.
On Friday, we will not only be announcing the winners of the two key New Zealand categories, we’ll be announcing the Australian category winners. You will have the opportunity to hear their pitch and also hear from Vic Crone & David Thodey, co-leaders of the Innovation Sector Group within the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum. It promises to be a an inspiring virtual event.The 2020 Water Challenge Finale and the Announcement of Winners runs from 2.00pm – 2.30pm (NZT).
To join us on Friday, simply register your (free) spot at https://waterchallengefinale.eventbrite.com.au. We look forward to seeing you (virtually of course) then.
If you want to learn more about the ongoing development of the Wharf42 Insights Programme and other initiatives currently being kept under wraps, please sign up for our free Monthly Newsletter.