7 Dec 2017
Young kiwis’ solutions for New Zealand cities

How can we reduce waste and better care for the wealth of our waterways? It didn’t take long for 20 or so New Zealand school kids aged 11 to 13 taking part in the Rotorua Youth Forum facilitated by our Chair Michael Nolan, in New Zealand to deliver a series of workshops for metro, regional and provincial Council in the South island, to come up with several ideas.

From recycling old containers, to putting more rubbish bins around lakes, eliminating plastic bags, environmental friendly cars, to recycling toys, the list was growing…
Rotorua Youth Workshop

“Improving lake and river water quality and health of the waterways came out as was one of their top priorities as they worked their way prioritising the projects they wanted to look at and try to put into practice”, explained our Chair Michael Nolan.

Michael was in Rotorua on the 13th and 14th November at the invitation of Rotorua’s Mayor’s Steve Chadwick, to deliver two days of workshops as part of a five day trip to New Zealand to meet with metro, local and regional governments in the South island.

Famous for its natural environment of steaming geysers and natural hot springs, beautiful lakes and forests, Rotorua is located on Lake Rotorua, which is within a region of 14 natural lakes.

In this natural context the delicate balance to be achieved between surrounding land use and the impact on the lakes can be hard to strike. A number of  lakes have water quality issues.

With water central to Maori culture and beliefs its natural that most of the projects picked by Michael’s young audience at the Rotorua Youth Forum revolved around waste, pollution and the health of waterways.

The 13 November workshop facilitated by our Chair Michael Nolan at the invitation of Rotorua Lakes Council gave Rotorua’s kids an opportunity to partner with others to find solutions to improve water quality, a recurrent urban issue.

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Next on their plan is to take their ideas and little projects back to the classroom and find support to implement them. Partnering to find solutions was a no brainer for these school kids…if only it was always that easy!

Forming partnerships to deliver much needed local projects was high on the agenda during Michael’s packed two-day visit to Rotorua on 13 and 14 November.

On his second workshop talking Carbon and Climate change, this time with several Council representatives from the Bay of Plenty region local government, Michael heard about how most councils were impacted by higher rainfall this year and their need for infrastructure and planning to adapt for future climate change impacts.

They were especially interested in hearing Michael explain how they could join and use systems like the Cities Programme – City Partnerships to work together with private sector, civil society and other partners to attract funds for projects to solve local issues like carbon mitigation and help their region adapt to future climate change impacts.

The interest in these type of partnerships carried on to day two with several Rotorua councillors, the CEO, the Mayor of Rotorua Steve Chadwick and staff, in separate sessions, interested in discussing cross-sector partnerships to focus on their “ Big Moves” projects and in getting private investment into those projects.

You can find out more about these ‘Big Moves’ projects like the Lakefront revitalisation (city ring of reserves) which includes projects such as the Sanatorium reserve restoration, that aims to restore an area of wasteland on the shores of Lake Rotorua, in the Vision 2030 Rotorua Way .

It provides a vision for the reserves development but also establish areas where private investment can be included to be able to leverage funds to enhance the reserve and provide ongoing revenue.

For many of these projects private investment is the key to get them running.

“They need support in finding funding to meet the expectations of their communities, and exploring these non-traditional partnerships with private sector and other partners is a mechanism of interest to them in trying to manage their budgets whilst still delivering much needed projects”, explained Michael Nolan.

Rotorua’s unique governance partnership with the Maori Te Arawa is a good example of how our first New Zealand city to join the Cities Programme in 2015, as a Leading level city, has been indeed leading the way.

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Michael’s trip  included time at the beautiful and bustling centres of Christchurch and Wellington.

Accompanied by Steve Chadwick, the Mayor of Rotorua, Michael met with metro, regional and local councils at the invitation of the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), the peak body representing New Zealand’s 78 local, regional and unitary authorities.

Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin were some of the New Zealand metro, regional and provincial councils represented at the meeting on the 16th of November.

Rotorura’s Mayor Steve Chadwick spoke at the meeting about Rotorua’s city experience as a Leading level participant of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme and did not shy away from explaining how the Cities Programme had supported the city’s forming partnerships for local solutions and ‘helped them prioritise on the issues that matter’.

Amongst the 100 Council representatives, including Mayors and CEO’s, there was talk about joining the programme.

“We received a lot of interest from Councils there in knowing more about city member’s access to our platform for partnered partnerships enabling them to attract funding to deliver local solutions.”

“There also a few that were very keen on registering for the City Partnerships Expression of Interest due to open in February 2018”, said Michael Nolan.

If New Zealand’s appetite for City Partnerships and joining the Cities Programme, is just starting… it sounds like our Cities Programme Relationship Manager, Jane Mullett, will be soon even busier, not just supporting Rotorua but also engaging other New Zealand cities in a collaborative approach to urban sustainability and in helping cities keep up with their commitment to the UN Global Compact and the SDGs in their cities.

 

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