It is great to see conversations about the future reaching the public and I do hope these conversations continue to educate all New Zealanders. The world needs urgent action and governments will not act unless people demand action.

We need immediate action on reducing the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. We need to create new industries and methods of governance to alleviate the growing inequality between the rich and the poor and we need to prepare our young people for the challenges of the future. These challenges are at the very core of what we do at Hanging Gardens.

Paul Hawken discusses these ideas in his book Blessed Unrest and it makes for fascinating reading.  For example,  “The American administration has spent $1 trillion on winning a war for Iraq, while refusing to allocate any funds on reducing dependency on oil. For $1 trillion, the United States could have catalysed the replacement of its entire automobile fleet with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”

“The World Bank predicts that more than 5 billion people will receive less that $2 a day in income by 2030 and 2 billion will live in slums.”

“On a crowded earth, with failing ecosystems, the challenge of civilization has changed and markets must change. To impose contemporary global trade ideology in the hopes of alleviating poverty and addressing environmental degradation is like slitting an artery to reduce high blood pressure. Trade is not the salient issue. The critical question is Who sets the rules and who enforces them? There can be no sustainability when institutions whose primary purpose is to create money are dictating the standards.”

The world has the technology and resources to solve these problems, what we lack is the will and the leadership. Judging from the participation in “What Next ?” it seems that NZ has the will to solve the problems, so all that remains is for our leaders to step up and put the action in place.

Leigh Nicholson