Grow­ing hope

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

We do not in­herit the earth from our an­ces­tors; we bor­row it from our chil­dren. So says a fa­mous proverb.

I have be­ing con­tem­plat­ing, of late, lo­cal gov­ern­ment’s role in this vi­sion. The proverb en­cour-ages those of us with in­flu­ence to look be­yond our own day-to-day ac­tiv­ity, to con­sider and make de­ci­sions that will be of last­ing ben­e­fit for our chil­dren to come.

One only needs to turn on the TV or read the news to know that too many de­ci­sions have not been made with the best in­ten­tions.

We live in a time of in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion, lack of con­nec­tion; we take and we pol­lute.

Many search for hope, and too many lack bold am­bi­tions for their own fu­ture, let alone some­one else’s. I be­lieve, and I know many oth­ers do too, that this needs to change, and soon. And the only way it is go­ing to change is if we all com­mit to it — well, a lot of us any­way.

It will re­quire us to get re­ally smart in the way we make de­ci­sions. And it will re­quire us to be col­lab­o­ra­tive. It will mean that we need to clearly know where we want to be in 100, 50 years, and then work back from there.

I see lo­cal gov­ern­ment as hav­ing two key ar­eas of ac­tiv­ity — civic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and lo­cal lead­er­ship and ad­vo­cacy.

The first is the core (and leg­isla­tive) busi­ness of pro­vid­ing safe, good-qual­ity lo­cal in­fra­struc­ture, lo­cal pub­lic ser­vices and reg­u­la­tory func­tions in the most cost-ef­fec­tive way — al­ways a chal­lenge here in the North. It is the sec­ond that will come into play as we look to be­come smarter in the way we in­vest, en­able and serve.

We need to be think­ing clev­erly about cli­mate im­pacts, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment (that brings jobs), community well­be­ing, and we need to be act­ing in a way that will serve the best in­ter­ests of not just our peo­ple and place to­day, but for the gen­er­a­tions that will fol­low.

What sort of in­vest­ment do we want to at­tract? Where are we go­ing to get best value in our in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing, and not just tan­gi­ble value, but the non­tan­gi­ble — the part that sup­ports healthy, strong and en­gaged com­mu­ni­ties? How do we best serve our district for the greater good, with a lim­ited bud­get, a huge area and mas­sive dis­par­i­ties?

I don’t yet know all the an­swers to th­ese big ques­tions. What I do know is we have started the work, and we want you to be in­volved as we look to evolve our Sus­tain­able District Strat­egy over the next 18 months. It’s all part of a big­ger dis­cus­sion be­ing held across many other groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions, across New Zealand and the rest of the world.

If you need some in­spi­ra­tion as to why this is im­por­tant, then look to your chil­dren, your grand­chil­dren, and think of their grand­chil­dren to come. Dwell just for a mo­ment on a world you want them to live in when they are your age.

Mo­ti­vat­ing, isn’t it?

"If you need some in­spi­ra­tion as to why [sus­tain­abil­ity] is im­por­tant, then look to your chil­dren, your grand­chil­dren, and think of their grand­chil­dren to come."

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