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Wellbeing project gathers momentum

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An appointment is imminent for an executive director of the Waikato Wellbeing Project as the scheme to meet sustainable development targets picks up steam.

WEL Energy has also pledged to commit $3 million over five years as part of an agreement with Waikato Regional Council.

The cash injection will help to establish and seed fund the project’s support function, which will be responsible for collaborating with manutaki – community leaders who are leading collaborations to progress towards achieving the targets.

Raewyn Jones

The executive director will be tasked with setting up the support function for the targets to be achieved across the region. They will report to the Waikato Regional Council chief executive, but Wellbeing Project co-chair Raewyn Jones says within a few months there will be a  separate governance group, similar to Te Waka though smaller.

The Waikato Wellbeing Project identified specific targets based on the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations as a blueprint to help citizens, governments, businesses and organisations.

Jones says a lot of work around the targets has already been happening organically around the region, with manutaki holding meetings and working out action plans.

She says the intention is to create a movement, rather than an organisation. “It’s about everybody contributing. So if you’re in MSD, for example, and people are organising to reduce youth unemployment, you should be saying to yourself, ‘why aren’t I involved with that?”

Jones describes the Sustainable Development Goals as being like a risk map for the world. “They’re not just these aspirational targets. If you look at them individually as a business, every one of them is a risk for you, whether it be climate or whether it be inequality.

“So if investors and business and government can look at the SDGs as a risk map, and as a roadmap for how we can work towards minimising that risk – actually, we will do a lot better.

When Covid first hit, she says they initially thought: “We shouldn’t burn this flame too bright, because there’s big stuff going on and everyone’s got other things on their mind.”

But as time went on, she says she realised there was no time to rest.

“If there’s a time that we need to be working differently, it’s now. There’s a model that’s been proven to work in terms of systems approaches, and this is it. We actually have to work harder and faster.”

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