As Professor Jacqueline Rowarth recently wrote in Primary, food security is rearing its head as a global issue, and New Zealand could play a leading role in addressing it. And Dr Daniel Franklin, executive editor of The Economist, shares that view.
Franklin was the keynote speaker at the New Zealand Forum this week, where he outlined some of the mega-trends shaping the future of the world and the implications and opportunities for New Zealand.
“New Zealand is surprisingly well positioned for the world in 2050 for a number of reasons. It’s close to Asia where a lot of the economic action is going to be, and it has a relatively big agricultural sector in a world that will need to feed nine billion people,” he said.
“The implications are even more dramatic than the actual population numbers suggest. The world’s population is not only increasing but also getting richer… so we will need to produce something like 70 per cent more food.”
Franklin believes New Zealand’s agri-food expertise means it should be in a position to not only produce valuable food products, but also export its agri-food technology so other countries can increase their own food output.
The fact that English is one of New Zealand’s official languages will also be to our 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 is going to be tremendous population growth in Africa and it will be a very fast growing part of the world’s economy," he said.
“My main piece of advice for NZ is to stay open – to trade, to other people and cultures, and to ideas. There’s always the temptation when things are changing very fast around you to close up. New Zealand needs to compete in the world of ideas and the more open New Zealand is, the more likely it is going to be able to take advantage of the opportunities.”