New Zealand to host international conference on wellbeing

A conference bringing international experts on wellbeing to New Zealand will provide valuable insights for policies to raise living standards of all Kiwis, and help promote New Zealand as a world-leading proponent of wellbeing research, says Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

The Third International Conference on Wellbeing and Public Policy will be held in Wellington on 5-7 September 2018. The conference will bring together world-leading scholars and organisations to share the latest developments in their work on wellbeing and its application to public policy. The Treasury, in partnership with Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) and the International Journal of Wellbeing, are hosting the conference.

“This Government is committed to pursuing productive, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth that improves the wellbeing and living standards of all New Zealanders,” Grant Robertson says.

“This means we will do things differently. We will put people’s wellbeing and the environment at the heart of our policies, and introduce settings to create an economy where we work smarter, make better use of our resources, and where the benefits of growth are spread fairly across society and regions.

“The Government is currently developing a comprehensive set of wellbeing measures, against which our progress in lifting living standards for all New Zealanders will be tracked and assessed. While economic measures like GDP are still important, we will move beyond using narrow tools for measuring success which often hide growing inequality and lead to generational inequity.

“In the December Budget Policy Statement, we outlined how we would begin to apply the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework (LSF) to policy formation. The LSF is based on an OECD framework that organises indicators of sustainable intergenerational wellbeing.

“It is the Government’s intention to report against a wider set of wellbeing indicators in future Budgets, in line with the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. This work will allow for a rounded measure of policy success in developing capitals including financial and physical, human, social and natural capital, rather than just GDP.

“My expectation is the results of this work, in terms of its influence on policy formation and how the Government reports on success, will be available for Budget 2019.

“As part of these efforts, I have given the go-ahead to Treasury officials to help organise the Third International Conference on Wellbeing and Public Policy in September, drawing world-leading organisations and thinkers working on this topic to New Zealand to share their research,” Grant Robertson says.

Confirmed plenary speakers for the conference include Edward Diener from the University of Utah, Martin Burger from Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Carla Anne Hokamau from the University of Auckland. Details of other speakers will be confirmed at a later date.

The International Conference on Wellbeing and Public Policy series was launched in Wellington in 2012. In 2014, the second conference was held in New York.

“Wellbeing research is a rapidly expanding field around the world, and it is exciting that New Zealand is at the forefront of work to change how governments devise policy and measure success,” Grant Robertson says.