In Box: NZ -- a Good Place to Be in 2050

Article excerpt

We might feel we're doing it hard in New Zealand, but not only is it one of the best places in the world to be born in 2013, but we're also well-positioned for the mega-shifts taking place between now and 2050.

Executive editor of The Economist, Dr Daniel Franklin, was keynote speaker at the 'new New Zealand Forum', an event organised in Auckland in December by Massey University in partnership with Westpac. He is also editor of Megachange: The World in 2050 (published March 2012) and The World in 2013, an Economist annual special issue.

He noted that New Zealand was ranked number seven out of 80 countries assessed by The Economist in its annual where-to-be-born index. Switzerland was ranked first, Australia second and Nigeria last.

He spoke both about short-term forecasts for the year ahead and the longer-term megatrends that will define humanity's experience of life on the planet mid-century.

His optimism for New Zealand was based largely on two factors; our geographical location close to Asia, "where a lot of the economic action is going to be", and our large agricultural sector in a world that will need to feed nine billion people. Agri-food presented a huge opportunity not only for trade in food products but also for exporting agri-food technology, Franklin said.

And although there might be climate change complications, New Zealand's environment was "relatively enviable" and that "raises the issues of managing that great heritage well". Being an English-speaking nation delivered another advantage.

"English is probably going to continue to be the main language spoken, despite the rise of China, and New Zealand's links through the Commonwealth to Africa will be important." There will be huge growth in Africa -- both in population and the continent's economy. Nigeria for example, could become the world's third largest economy, after China and India, by 2050.

In the space of 100 years there will have been a complete reversal of population relativities between Europe and Africa. …