Girol Karacaoglu, Victoria University Wellington, School of Government: Intergenerational Wellbeing and Public Policy

League of Live Illustrators' capture of Girol's talk

My vision for this country is to make it a place where talent wants to live – that was Sir Paul Callaghan’s vision.

This requires a clear objective for public policy – which is at the top of my slide – helping people live the kinds of lives they value and have reason to value – without judging valued lives, provided it does not interfere with others’ rights to live the kinds of lives they value. The role of public policy is to enhance people’s opportunities and capabilities to pursue the lives they value.

This welcomes, embraces, and celebrates all sorts of diversity.

The essence of implementing this policy is to create the largest play pen within which individuals and communities can flourish – that is the diagram (the pentagon) on the slide behind me. 

Policy Framework

The ingredients are the various capital assets (natural capital, human capital, social & cultural capital, and economic & financial capital) that collectively comprise “comprehensive wealth” – these are common ingredients for wellbeing across humanity.

The government, as our representative agent, is the steward for current and future generations in this framework – it manages these capital stocks (through appropriate investments in infrastructures and ecosystems) in a way that ensures: resilience to systemic risks, social cohesion (in an increasingly diverse society), equity across society and generations, raising potential economic growth and, through all these mechanisms, sustainability towards intergenerational wellbeing.

Another critical feature of this framework is that it recognises that while material conditions are critical, they are not sufficient for sustainable wellbeing – public policy need to acknowledge the critical interdependence between environmental, social, and economic influences on wellbeing. By way of example, as we invest in human health as a way of increasing wellbeing directly, but also increasing productivity, we concurrently invest in shifting both consumption and production towards cleaner products – from fossil fuel cars to electronic cars – while investing in poverty reduction so that people can afford to buy electrical cars.

And finally, in the complex and fundamentally uncertain world we live in, the best way to create resilience (in both the sense of protecting our way of life from major catastrophes, as well as nourishing creativity as a platform for adaptation), we need to give far more voice and support to our very diverse communities across the country.