At Gates Foundation event, Ardern calls on other nations to copy NZ's wellbeing Budget

Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is pushing for the world to follow New Zealand's lead in its approach to tackling wellbeing issues.

In her speech at the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation Goal Keepers Summit in New York today, Ms Ardern talked about the Government's shift to focus on wellbeing, including with its May Budget.

"Economic growth accompanied by worsening social outcomes is not success. It is a failure," she said. "Turning things around requires changing both the way we think and the way we act.

"So to tackle these issues in New Zealand, my Government is doing something not many other countries have tried."

In New Zealand now, the Prime Minister said, when deciding where to spend public money and manage the country's national assets the Government decided it was no longer enough to simply ask what will best drive economic growth.

"Now the question that we as politicians are asking is: 'What will do the most to improve the lives of New Zealanders – both now and in the future?'" she said.

Ms Ardern talked about the Government's "wellbeing" Budget in May, as well as the Treasury developing a living standards framework.

"We're investing in mental health because ignoring it is a stain our society and a drain on our economy. Our investment will help people lead more fulfilling lives and increase productivity. That is what wellbeing really looks like. It’s a values-driven approach to economic success.

"We will never pretend we have all the answers, and there is no guarantee that our approach will succeed, but new thinking is required."

Ms Ardern talked about growing up as a policeman's daughter in a small town of just 3000. She said she was surrounded by "people being left behind".

"I never viewed the world through the lens of politics then, and in many ways still don’t. Instead I try to view it through the lens of children, people and the most basic concept of fairness."

Even when she signed up to a political party at 17 years old, Ms Ardern said she wasn’t looking for a career.

"I wanted, perhaps naively, to change the world," she said. "I was promptly handed 300 leaflets and told to start changing said world one mailbox at a time.

"The world has changed immeasurably since then. We are both more connected yet more partisan and tribal than ever. Inequality has progressed almost as rapidly as development."

Ms Ardern called on other nations to address the "global need".

"Despite global economic growth, the distribution of benefits remains uneven. There has been little change in income equality and in some areas we are going backwards with rising global hunger, rising global greenhouse gas emissions, and alarming pressure on natural resources and the environment," she said.

"I believe that the change in approach that we have adopted in New Zealand is needed at a global scale."

She talked about working together on issues from human rights to climate change.

"Ultimately we need more collaboration, more examples of the international community prioritising our collective and global wellbeing over domestic self-interest."