Our pioneer forebears have been described as hardy, independent and multi-skilled, characteristics which have contributed to the people we are today.

How different from the culture of dependency being cultivated by today’s globalised world. One of the main drivers of such a culture is the top-down system of global financial control which has spawned dependent regional economies the world over.

The direction in which this process is moving is reflected in the controversial Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) encompassing nearly 40% of the world’s economy. If signed this agreement would among other things, see our Government and our local Councils forfeit their right to support local employment by buying NZ made. It would see an unelected tribunal comprised of three private lawyers being set up that gave corporations the right to sue for lost profits, for example when environmental or regulatory standards rose above a standard set by the signatory nations.

In light of significant risks we are facing, does it make sense to support such an agreement that would forfeit more of our economic sovereignty? One such risk is the high probability of more extreme weather events from climate change as predicted by the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman in his 2013 report on New Zealand’s changing climate. Another risk is the global economy – commentators are warning that we are headed toward an economic crisis likely to be much worse that of 2008. Being prudent would suggest the need to prepare and safeguard against such risks and certainly not to sacrifice our capacity to act independently.

Ways to become more resilient and heighten regional self-sufficiency could include taking advantage of the region’s high sunshine hours by harnessing more energy from solar power, increasing the percentage of locally produced food we consume, fostering economic democracy through cooperative ownership as well as ensuring businesses and their profits stayed in the community, heightening awareness of the economic benefits from buying from locally owned businesses rather than online or from chain stores or using overseas banks. The Nelson Enterprise Loan Trust was established to recycle wealth within the region. Additionally, knowing that more equal societies do better, we need to consider how to reduce the Nelson region’s income inequality.

Unquestionably, a world comprised of resilient regional economies would be far better placed to withstand social, economic and environmental disasters and to properly provide for their peoples than a world beholden to profit-driven corporate power.

Empowering the local community in these ways would heighten the probability that we would be able to better stand on our own feet and over time bequeath subsequent generations more of the hardiness and independence we ourselves inherited.


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