Prof Jonathan Boston, of Victoria University of Wellington,
gives a talk in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Linda
New Zealand is likely to face ''enormous costs'',
including widespread environmental damage, if we cannot find
better ways of preparing for the future, Prof Jonathan Boston
Prof Boston, who is director of the Institute for Governance
and Public Policy Studies at Victoria University of
Wellington, gave two public talks at the University of Otago
yesterday, in association with the Otago Centre for Theology
and Public Issues.
One talk focused on ''Governing for the Future: Stewardship,
Sustainability and the Tyranny of the Present'', and the
other dealt with child poverty myths and misunderstandings.
Finding better ways of ''governing for the future'' was
''critically important'' for New Zealand, he said.
It was also vital that New Zealand moved away from a
relatively narrow form of economic analysis, and took wider
environmental and social costs into account, he said in an
There was a tendency for politicians and voters in many
countries to focus on relatively short-term issues, and to
delay dealing with some impending future challenges.
And ''many problems and poor decisions'' had arisen from
excessively short-term thinking.
But most countries, including the United States and New
Zealand, would pay ''enormous costs'' if global climate
change challenges were not met and there was a big rise in
Parts of Dunedin, including St Kilda, were low-lying and
people there would ''need boats'' rather than cars to get
around if there was a big rise in sea level.
New Zealand also faced major problems if other long-term
issues, including persistent child poverty, were not properly
And the country's growing obesity problems would impose
''absolutely enormous costs'' on the health system unless
they were tackled more effectively.
There was no ''single solution'' and a mix of approaches was
However, we could also learn from mechanisms, including the
Fiscal Responsibility Act, we had already put in place to
address future needs.
Such approaches also included the superannuation-related
Cullen Fund, and the Earthquake Commission, which had
provided funding after the recent Christchurch earthquakes.