The Next Generation Influencers (NGI) programme was devised as a capability-building programme for the future influencers of our land and water in New Zealand. NGI participants applied to take part in the programme which included three multi-day events held in Wellington, Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay, designed to connect them to a range of diverse perspectives and ways of thinking to build skills, networks and connections in land and water. Participants further developed these through mentoring and reflection.
What we didn't fully anticipate was the extent to which the Challenge itself would be influenced by the influencers.
Ken Taylor, director of the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, explains: “We found that the NGI group wanted to engage with us, and challenge our thinking, in a really positive way. Participants brought a range of fresh perspectives to our discourse, and it was clear from the start that we had a lot to learn from them. When it came to updating our science strategy, the NGIs were the obvious people to articulate a vision that we could all share. And there is more to come.
“I look forward to this group continuing to help shape the future of our land and water.”
The Next Generation Influencers (NGIs) were selected because they are at the forefront of fundamental shifts in attitudes and behaviours. Participants were already working within the 3 research themes of Our Land and Water: creating resilient, diversified landscapes (such as farmer Sam Lang, who is developing support networks for farmers moving towards regenerative systems), maximising global value for what we produce (such as Angela Clifford of Eat New Zealand, who is also working to tell the New Zealand grain story), and building community capability to transition to more sustainable futures (such as Lisa McLaren, convener of the Carbon Zero Act campaign, who is now developing a model to integrate community resilience principles into primary sector science).
Adrian Hunt, project co-leader, reflects: “A real highlight was the strong, supportive community that formed among the diverse group of participants. This allowed participants to share perspectives on the complex challenges facing those charged with stewardship of our land and water resources, in a safe environment. ”
We look forward to hearing directly from participants in the programme at the Our Land and Water Symposium, 12-13 August 2019.
ILLUSTRATION: Alex McCall, NGI participant