The following provocations truly are crystal ball gazing, ‘made up statements’ for the New Zealand context, with the sole purpose of getting us all thinking. We are not trying to predict the future here, simply pushing out the boundaries of what might be possible. Don't read on if you can’t stand the thought of some tough challenges – the
possibilities might be sobering. Some might find it exciting!
Here we go…
NZ in the global context in the year 2026…
The overall global economic situation deteriorated after the COP26 summit. Countries around the globe that were and still are highly dependent on fossil
fuel are finding the transition particularly difficult. The realisation that there is not enough energy to rebuild the global economy as it was, irrespective of how much money exists, took a while to sink in.
China stopped supplying the world with cheap stuff and is now focused on using its resources to support its own population and its newly acquired
territory of Taiwan. New Zealand is making progress in its own transition and although it has been a rough ride, the future is looking brighter.
Young leaders on the rise.
Youth are more frustrated than ever. A core group from the 2019 school climate crisis strikes are now seven years older – a growing force that are
keen to see positive change. They are becoming increasingly active in business, community, and politics.
This is not just a New Zealand phenomenon. Around the world change is accelerating through the combination of increasing levels of data, online
transparency, mounting legal challenges to the status quo, and growing civil unrest. The Covid-19 pandemic and epidemic that followed, has created a new type of young leader, just getting on with the job of change.
A new political paradigm evolves in NZ
The 2024 elections result surprised everyone when Act, the Greens and Māori Party joined forces to deliver the grass roots effort needed to ensure real and
lasting change, resilience, and prosperity on the ground across the regions. No easy feat, as they first needed to resolve the Three-Waters stoush over ownership of water rights. The earlier Labour Government got caught out trying to push the Māori ownership of water agenda too fast at a time when folks were struggling with the impacts of Covid.
The country is stretched financially, but people are generally positive that new blood, new policies and new approaches to regional redevelopment and
partnership are heading in the right direction, at least for future generations.
Underfunded regions require a bigger slice of the pie just to look after the risks and issues they face due to climate change and economic disruption.
Infrastructure, transport systems, local housing and basic social services are stretched, as costs increase, and insurance companies retreat from some sectors.
Shanty towns are emerging on the edge of most major cities, similar to the tent villages in the hills around Silicon Valley in 2008, as the growing low to middle-waged become the
new homeless. The volunteer sector is overwhelmed, the nation’s wealthiest families and individuals have stepped in under duress to help the most essential groups.
Oil, Gas and Coal supplies are lumpy
Those that can’t afford to fill up are their cars are working from home, car sharing or using public transport to get to and from work and their local
shops. The Government has intervened to prioritise food production and distribution and delivery of essential services.
Global competition for regular supplies of oil is fierce due to lower-than-expected production and ongoing demand from developed nations. Adapting to the
$150 to $250 per-barrel oil surge is tough for legacy business models and institutions.
The government has commissioned a feasibility study into the refurbishment of Marsden refinery, so that it can refine Taranaki crude oil as a backup
Transport is changing
There are now 80,000 EV’s in the light transport fleet. Uptake is slower than the expected. Prices have been rising steeply since 2022 due to manufacturing
and supply chain constraints and shortages of the raw materials required to manufacture batteries, motors, and car bodies.
Fuel use is being prioritised for farming, food production and distribution.
Constraints in global shipping and movement of domestic freight are changing the transport sector more generally, as it continues to
No more new cycleways and roads
Budgets for roads are shrinking and so is the sector. Infrastructure providers are facing rising fuel and materials costs. Road laying machinery is getting
more expensive and supplies of bitumen-based products are contracting.
New Apps that facilitate easier car sharing, and multi-modal transport uptake are helping to lower private vehicle use, which is freeing up more dedicated
roads for bikes. Clever councils are re-configuring the road network, road rules and automated signage, to enable the safe transition of road use. We are moving from a majority of private cars, to a mix of transport modes. While this avoids having to build new infrastructure, councils continue to have legal battles over road and building contracts that were cancelled.
Building and urban design is in a state of reform. The explosion in building material and labour costs, post pandemic, triggered a concerted rethink
of how we build and retrofit homes. New designs are emerging that will provide long-life healthy homes with low costs and low carbon profiles. Maybe this will shrink some of the shanty-towns.
It has taken major reform and innovation in financing and infrastructure provision to provide new water, heating, and transport solutions.
Intensive co-housing developments, urban-village thinking and the use of standardised and prefab components is becoming a reality in the delivery of healthy and affordable homes.
New community values emerging
Economic growth based on large-scale energy and materials consumption is no longer possible. It’s being replaced by growth in non-material services,
products and natural and regenerative production.
The focus on wellbeing, as the primary measure of national success, is reshaping decision making. We are now valuing how each decision we
make at national and local levels erodes or builds our natural capital, such as biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions headroom and regenerative capacity.
We are beginning to redirect funding from treating symptoms in the health, social, education and justice systems towards preventing them up front, through
locally designed and run programmes focused on radical improvement to air quality, unhealthy homes and mental health.
This proactive and preventative approach in communities, combined with a growing shift to regenerative and restorative practices, including serious
commitment to guardianship of the natural world through Te Ao Maori, is exciting for young and old as they see that the connections they are making and the actions they are taking, are setting the country up for a future of genuine prosperity.
Now…back to current reality!
We hope this got your imagination going and even though it isn’t real, were you surprised? scared? upset?
infuriated? excited? Everyone's view is likely to be very different.
It is difficult to imagine that we are at a crossroad, a turning point, but in all probability we are. We can believe that the world will return to what it
was, or we can start to face the reality that virtually everything will be in transition for at least 20 years.
We believe it is possible to transition to a world where we are living comfortably, within natural limits…but
this means we simply cannot continue to use the resources and energy we have done in the past and still do today, while trashing nature along the way!
Let us know what you think? Hopefully you will stay on as a subscriber and not write us off as crazy. And please share this with a friend that might be