As we weather the storm of the Covid-19 Coronavirus, we are getting rare glimpses of a different, better world. A New Zealand where the streets are quieter, the air is cleaner, we have more time with our families and where the essentials of life are in sharper focus.
This time is hard. So many people are suffering. And it’s not over yet. But New Zealand’s response to the economic aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis could also be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reset. To rebuild better.
We could come out of this with a reimagined New Zealand where people and nature are properly valued, and where the ways we travel, generate electricity and produce food are cleaner and more sustainable.
If we make the right choices.
Jacinda Ardern has shown strong leadership by front footing a response to the coronavirus crisis which includes measures to keep us all safe and to lessen the impact on people’s jobs, their health and our communities.
The Government’s initial response to the pandemic has rightly been to focus on eliminating the virus and ensuring people’s lives and livelihoods are protected as much as possible.
In the coming weeks they’ll go further. They will announce significant spending on infrastructure projects designed to create jobs and incomes.
This is a huge opportunity if we make the right choices.
We currently face three simultaneous crises in Aotearoa New Zealand:
The Covid-19 pandemic and its associated economic downturn
A worsening climate and ecological crisis.
This massive spending in response to the Covid-19 crisis could transform how we live, work and interact with our planet in a way that adds real long-term value. But if we don’t get it right, there is a risk that it can lock us into more pollution, more inequality and an ongoing approach that further degrades the health of our planet and our people.
We must be vigilant against the wiles of big polluters who will also have their hands out. They will be desperate to return us to the status quo, where they had undue influence and profited from exploiting people and the natural world.
But we must resist that push to return to ‘normal’, because it was normal that was the problem.