Kate Scott 2018 Nuffield Scholar – Global Insights: Re-defining agricultural policy for better environmental outcomes

I have come to the view so far during my travels that globally New Zealand Agriculture is punching well above its weight in terms of both its understanding of the impacts of its activities on the environment, but also in its recognition of the need to change. 

This is not to say that we have achieved all that is needed, in fact we are still some way from this. However I believe that we have at least started along the path towards finding solutions to reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture, and to achieve this we need to overcome the following challenges. 

The first challenge is goal setting. As I see it there is broad consensus on the need to change, however we need a game plan to guide us on our journey, otherwise how do we go about making this change if we don’t know where we are going? This plan must set out long term, ambitious goals that define what agriculture in New Zealand will look like in the future. Until we have done this any change to our approach remains piecemeal and is unlikely to reduce the footprint of agriculture. 

The second challenge is about taking a holistic approach. The path we take must encompass holistic management that is outward looking. We can no longer continue to look at the challenges of agriculture as isolated component parts, and we cannot define our road map without bold leadership at all levels. 

We must encompass holistic, community centric, collaborative decision making.  

Engaging all of New Zealand will be critical to solving the challenges that we face. 

The third challenge is enabling evidenced based decision making. This must play a lead role in shaping our road map.  

The fourth challenge is enabling technology.  We must continue to encourage innovation and find new tools that help guide our decision making and enable better environmental outcomes.  

Information and data are the currency that will bring agriculture from reactive to revolutionary, and we must adopt these now at speed and at scale. 

The final challenge is driving a shift to outwards looking policy. I think the answer lies in redefining our approach to policy. This requires a shift from a reactive regulatory approach to a proactive regulatory approach, where regulation and policy is the backstop rather than the front door.  

We need to move towards capturing and monetising our sustainability, and to do this we need to address the five challenges;  

  1. Clear vision vs. Vague plan  
  1. Holistic Working Approach vs. Silos Working Approach 
  1. Evidence Based Decision Making vs. Thought Based Decision Making 
  1. Technology Uptake vs. Status Quo 
  1. Policy Incentives vs. Policy Punishment by Rules. 

I encourage you all to get on board with making bold changes for the future of New Zealand, and New Zealand Agriculture. 

You can read Kate’s full speech on LinkedIn here > https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/re-defining-agricultural-policy-better-environmental-outcomes-scott/

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