Intergenerational decisions should be made very carefully
Any major infrastructure proposal with widespread social, cultural and environmental impacts requires decision processes that are fully informed by the very latest research insights. Such research is produced following rigorous research protocols, peer reviewed before publication, and should be independent in that it is not driven by a commercial imperative or interest. In other words, it should be unbiased.
Based on extensive, existing science and research, a new international airport in Central Otago should not proceed.
This is the considered view of some of New Zealand’s most experienced researchers with expertise in the fields of business, economics, climate science, sustainability, Māori and indigenous studies, tourism, the environment, agriculture, and policy studies. They’ve written to the business and political leaders with the power to decide whether the proposed airport at Tarras will proceed.
Since the letter was sent in January 2023, the number of researchers and experts who have added their voice to the letter has now reached nearly 80. These include leading international academics and science professionals.
When the future of New Zealand is at stake, decision makers and leaders should be guided by the most robust and in-depth data and research available. This information should form the foundation of open discussion with all key stakeholders and affected communities. It should underpin important decisions we ultimately make together about the future of our community and country.
Big decisions can have significant consequences. So when business leaders and politicians are making decisions which could have wide-reaching impacts on future generations of New Zealanders, those decisions come with a huge responsibility.
Firstly, there is a responsibility to seek all relevant data, research and information which will help with good decision making. This is not just common sense – it is best practice.
Secondly, there is a responsibility to share it, and discuss it, widely, including with all key stakeholders, and even those who hold opposing views. Robust, open discussions lead to better outcomes.
And thirdly, informed leaders must be able to take a step back from predetermined outcomes, entrenched views, or existing positions.
Those who are making decisions about the proposed airport at Tarras, Central Otago, are at this exact juncture now. There is a huge amount of research and data available to inform the discussion – and experts who have spent years (and in some cases their entire careers) focussing on these issues, in New Zealand and globally.
Informed leaders will embrace this information and expertise.