Growing Beyond Growth: Rethinking the goals of regional development in New Zealand
Over the next 30 years our main centres and areas close by will continue to grow, albeit with ageing populations. For the remainder of the country, the populations of 44 out of 67 Territorial Authorities will either stop growing or start to decline. If we do not attend to this divergence of economic and demographic outcomes, we risk opening the door to broader societal division between people and communities in growing areas and those in stagnation or decline.
The paper recommends three key “rethinks” of current regional development policy:
Rethink #1: All regional development goals be explicitly and clearly stated to enable clarity, transparency, scrutiny and co-ordination. As part of this “regional wellbeing indicators” should be explicitly developed and included in these regional development goals.
Rethink #2: Regional development goals need to be ranked and prioritised with tensions, trade-offs, or subservient relationships between the goals explicitly outlined and prioritised so as to enable evaluation.
Rethink #3: New Zealand needs to rethink its sole focus on economic growth, shifting to a framework that also empowers communities to meet both the economic and social needs of their populations in the midst of “no growth or even decline.”