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New Zealand is increasingly a place rich in diversity – and this results in awareness, empathy and engagement with international politics and global economics. This is very precious.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the developed world is becoming less like this.
Following the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States there have been subsequent terrorist attacks across the globe, just these last few weeks in Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq.
There’s also been an unprecedented level of international counter-terrorist activity aimed at making terrorist attacks more difficult to carry out. Yet at times the stringency of these measures almost seems like terrorism itself, with long queues in public spaces, like airports, that are extremely invasive of personal space, dignity, and frustratingly time consuming.
Bigger than terrorism internationally is the breakdown in state control associated with the continuing instability in parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Further, there’s a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in an increasing number of fragile states around the globe.
Growing inequality seems to be amplifying tensions and leading to conflict, particularly in developing or fragile states where the average age is 25 and the rivalries are between cultures living within common boundaries.
Recent political events including the United Kingdom’s vote to exit the European Union, the Australian cliff-hanger election, and the rise of Donald Trump in the United States; have heightened awareness in New Zealand of how precious it is to have a population that can resolve issues in a constructive manner.
One important way we can change this picture in New Zealand is by bringing together a public sector with a strong integrity system, a humanistic civil society, and an innovative business and corporate sector. The values that support this are transparency, respect, integrity, courage, plus environmental, cultural and social sustainability.
Organisations can do this based on a certain conviction that a core commitment to integrity will yield not just moral fruit, but economic reward. Key aspects of this are:
Not only do we need to prevent corruption, we need to harvest the benefits of integrity. It’s the benefits that will provide the returns to invest in marketing and innovation that generates new jobs, providing a return to invest in environmentally-sustainable processes. All this leads to a stronger tax base for the provision of education and housing improvements.
It will be through New Zealand demonstrating these results that the rest of the world can visualise a future more positive than waking up each day to yet more stories of terrorism and young populations at war with their own citizens.
Suzanne Snively, Chair
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.