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NZ 'well positioned' to face population challenges

Published: 11:49AM Monday December 03, 2012 Source: ONE News

New Zealand is in a good place to tackle the global economic, environmental and population challenges of a changing world, a trends expert says.

Dr Daniel Franklin, executive editor of The Economist, believes New Zealand's closeness to Asia and "international outlook" will be a benefit in the future.

Franklin was speaking on TV ONE's Breakfast programme this morning ahead of a forum on global population trends organised by Massey University today, where experts will discuss how such trends will affect New Zealand.

He said while the country is "a small part of a big picture", New Zealand is "quite well placed" to tackle the challenges which lay ahead for the world as it reaches an estimated population of 9 billion by 2050.

"The fact that New Zealand is close to where a lot of the economic action to going to be - close to Asia - it's well positioned for that," he said.

"Because food is going to be so important, New Zealand, with its food production and food technology, is pretty well positioned for that, and of course New Zealand makes a lot of its pristine environment, so environmental science and environmental knowledge can be something that New Zealand can contribute to, as well as a place, I think increasingly, people will want to come and visit."

NZ faces 'big choice' about immigration

Franklin said New Zealand faces a "big choice" about immigration and "how open it wants to be in all this".

"My inclination would be to welcome the world," he said, "but I think there is a question of 'how fast do you do that?' For a small country adapting to that can be difficult.

"But I think it is an advantage to New Zealand that it has a very international outlook, a lot of New Zealanders go around the world and are familiar with cultures of all sorts, so that in a world that is getting smaller, where Asia is more and more important, that I think is an advantage to New Zealand."

Franklin also said that New Zealand's "dynamically growing population" was a good thing, compared to other parts of the world experiencing a rapid ageing of their population.

"Think of places like Japan and Europe, which are grappling with a really serious problem, increasing in the future, of a population which is going to have to be supported in its old age," he said.

"And actually, what people don't realise is that's going to be true in the future of China as well because of its one child policy. China is in a race to grow rich before it grows old."

Franklin - who is also editor of Megachange - The World in 2050, a book which outlines the major trends set to shape our future - said he estimates New Zealand could have a population of around 7 million people by 2050.

He is the keynote speaker at today's New Zealand Forum, joining a panel which will discuss the implications of a rapidly changing world and the opportunities for New Zealand which that presents.

The forum will be live streamed here , and a video of the event will be available via the same link from 5.30pm.