We run a range of seminars, training, conferences and social events throughout the year to encourage the use of economics in public policy decision making and to stimulate debate and discussion on economic and public policy research. We also run an annual essay competition. Most of our events are free to anyone with an interest, including the public. Our events, in particular seminars and conference operate under the “Chatham House rule”. If you are a member of the media and wish to attend out events please notify us in advance. Where possible, we will post a recording of the seminar.

If you would like to deliver a seminar to GEN please contact us here.

Upcoming events

Webinar: The end of the golden weather: What now for Aotearoa New Zealand Trade Policy?

The period 1995-2019 was the ‘golden weather’ for New Zealand trade policy. Three assumptions underpinned this period: international trade rules were respected and would expand, protectionism was declining and the social licence in New Zealand and internationally for trade policy in general and trade agreements in particular would be sustained. Those three assumptions no longer hold. So, what now for New Zealand trade policy in these turbulent times? Vangelis Vitalis will provide some reflections on the passing of the ‘golden weather’ and on the way ahead.

Vangelis Vitalis is Deputy Secretary, Trade and Economic at MfAT. He was the APEC2021 Senior Officials’ Meeting Chair for New Zealand’s host year and in 2023 Vangelis will be chairing the Senior Officials’ process that supports the CPTPP Ministerial meetings. Vangelis was also the Chief Negotiator who led the conclusion of negotiations for the New Zealand European Union Free Trade Agreement and before that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Prior to taking up his role in Wellington in 2017, Vangelis was New Zealand’s Permanent Representative (Ambassador) to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva where he chaired the agriculture negotiations in a personal capacity.

Date: 1.30pm, Thursday 22 June

Previous events

Webinar: Aotearoa New Zealand’s key energy choices to achieve decarbonisationwind turbines on the hills of Wellington at dusk. The sunset is in the background with clouds and the distant mountains of the south island.

12.30pm, Thursday 27 April

Given that the principal route to decarbonising much of our fossil-fuel-consuming economy is through electrification, the choices we make for the electricity sector will have significant ramifications for our decarbonisation goals. Simon Coates from Concept Consulting will present the results of their analysis of some of New Zealand’s key energy choices for transitioning to a net-zero economy.  In particular:

  • Will pushing for 100% renewable electricity generation result in better or worse environmental (and economic) outcomes?
  • Is ‘green’ hydrogen (produced from renewable-electricity-powered electrolysis) likely to be a practicable option for decarbonising our natural gas-consuming energy sector?

Simon Coates is a director at Concept Consulting, and one of New Zealand’s leading experts in resource economics.  He combines economic and policy expertise, with deep institutional knowledge of the energy and resources sectors, plus leading modelling expertise. Simon heads Concept’s modelling practice, and has developed numerous models over the years to inform business and Government clients.  He developed the whole-of-economy model used by the Climate Change Commission for setting its first carbon budgets.  He led the work for Concept’s recent “Which Way is Forward?” study analysing the key energy choices facing New Zealand’s energy sector.

Webinar: Attributing the costs of climate change for the Auckland floods

Four people in wet weather gear fighting to push a car out of the way of floodwaters that are at risk of floating the car away.9.30am – 10.30am, Wednesday 1 March

The recent Auckland and Tairawhiti flooding have both been linked to climate change. The costs for these events are still being calculated but, together, are likely to be over a billion $NZ. How can we attribute the extra damage and costs inflicted by climate change? Professor Ilan Noy will discuss Extreme Event Attribution. This methodology examines the degree to which anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions change the occurrence of specific extreme weather events, allowing us to quantify the climate change-induced component of these costs. Ilan’s recent research has found that internationally US$ 143 billion per year of the costs of extreme events during the last twenty years is attributable to anthropogenic climatic change.

Professor Ilan Noy holds Te Āwhionukurangi—The Chair in the Economics of Disasters and Climate Change. He and his team are based within the Wellington School of Business and Government at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. Ilan and his research group study disasters—including earthquakes, epidemics, droughts, and cyclones—and other phenomena related to climate change. His research focuses on domestic and international case studies and comparative analysis of economic aspects of these extreme events.

Ilan’s slides: Attribution-IlanNoy-GEN2023
A video of the presentation will be available shortly.

Mt Taranaki reflected in a lakeWebinar: Developing climate-related disclosure standards

12.30-1.30pm, Thursday 24 November

This online seminar will provide an update on the External Reporting Board’s (XRB) development of climate-related disclosure standards. These standards bring together issues of climate science, economics, finance and financial reporting and apply to New Zealand’s largest ~200 entities. The purpose of the standards is to enable investors to assess how entities are considering their climate-related risks and opportunities, and make subsequent investment decisions. The ultimate aim is to support the allocation of capital towards activities that are consistent with a transition to a low-emissions, climate-resilient future. Come along to learn more about how the economics of climate change is evolving in this space, as it becomes mandatory for individual corporate entities to undertake forward-looking climate-related scenario analysis.

Jack Bisset is a Policy Manager on climate change and sustainability at the External Reporting Board. Jack is working to develop New Zealand’s climate-related disclosure standards for the largest ~200 companies and financial institutions. Jack has been working in climate and environmental policy for over 5 years, including work on the economics of transition, sustainable land use modelling, emissions trading, policy innovation and sustainable finance. Jack was previously at the Ministry for the Environment in the Office of the Chief Executive working across a wide range of sustainability issues.

Webinar: In the mix: a critical evaluation of the Emissions Reduction Plan

12.30-1.30pm, Thursday 20 October

The publication of the Emissions Reduction Plan was another milestone for the New Zealand Government’s new climate policy architecture, established under the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019. It also marks a tacit shift from a climate policy approach that was dominated by the Emissions Trading Scheme to an approach that positions the ETS as one of multiple policy instruments. This echoes a recent turn in academic literature to focusing on the policy mix, and especially the interactions between policy instruments, as a productive frame of analysis. I will draw on Karoline Rogge’s framework of policy mixes to critically evaluate the Emissions Reduction Plan, with a particular focus on the consistency, coherency, credibility and comprehensiveness of its elements. This approach helps policy analysts to reflect on whether the whole of a policy mix is more (or less) than the sum of its parts.

Dr David Hall researches politics and policy with a focus on climate change, land use, sustainable finance and just transitions. He has a DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford and currently is Senior Lecturer at AUT University’s School of Social Sciences & Public Policy and Chair of AUT’s Sustainability Steering Group. He is Founding Director of the Climate Innovation Lab, Principal Investigator for AUT’s Living Laboratories Programme of nature-based solutions, member of the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group, Director of the Environmental Defence Society, member of B Corp’s Regional Standards Advisory Group – Australasia, inaugural Energy Fellow for New Zealand’s energy innovation centre Ara Ake, and Honorary Fellow of the Hanken Centre for Accounting, Finance and Governance. He works with a diverse range of public and private sector stakeholders on climate innovation and publishes widely in a range of academic and public-facing media. His most recent book is A Careful Revolution: Towards a Low-Emissions Future, an essay collection on just transitions. You can watch his presentation here and his slides are at Presentation on Emissions Reduction Plan_v.3 GEN_final.

GEN AGM and fun debate

5.30pm, Tuesday 13 SeptemberBar, Wellesley Club, 2-8 Maginnity Street

This year, along with the usual drinks and nibbles, our AGM comes with a debate on “Whether Asteroid Mining is Aotearoa New Zealand’s Best Hope for the Future.”With a sharp and funny crew of policy and econ folk from across government, you won’t want to miss this one. Star Wars and Star Trek puns will fly (or possibly plummet) for around 15 minutes.

Plus, being a GEN member is free and you get to vote on cool stuff at our AGM. Unfortunately, if you’re not a GEN member, you’ll need to be quiet during the (very quick) AGM (which comes after the debate).

Webinar: Immigration by the Numbers

Presented by Dr Philip Stevens, Director of Economics and Research, New Zealand Productivity Commission

12.30-1.30pm, Tuesday 12 July, 2022

Who migrates to New Zealand, and what skills do they bring? How do migration trends in New Zealand compare with the rest of the world? The Immigration by the numbers publication presents the immigration trends and quantitative analysis to both inform the Productivity Commission’s recent immigration inquiry, and create the basis for an informed public debate on migration and the New Zealand economy.

The underlying report (and associated material) can be found here.

Dr Philip Stevens is the Director, Economics & Research at the New Zealand Productivity Commission | Te Kōmihana Whai Hua o Aotearoa, and a GEN Board member.

Philip is an economist with twenty-years’ experience of economic and social research in the university, independent and public sectors. He joined Prod Com from the Ministry of Education, where he was GM Analysis, Research & Evaluation | Po­­ārahi Wananga Matua. Prior to that he held a similar role at MBIE, as well as Manager and Chief Advisor of Economic Strategy in MBIE and MED­. Before coming to New Zealand, Philip was a Research Fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social research in London.

Philip has published in leading peer-reviewed international journals on subjects such as: productivity analysis; employment; competition; evaluation; the measurement of performance in the public sector; broadband; R&D and human capital. He has a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Oxford, a Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Leeds, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Public Policy from Leeds Metropolitan University (First Class).

In person event: Plastic Pollution Solutions: The path to a legally binding plastics treaty

Presented by Associate Professor Trisia Farrelly, Massey University
Thursday 26 May, Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave Street, Wellington

Associate Professor Trisia Farrelly, of Massey University has spent many years working toward policy change to support the elimination of plastic pollution and pollutants, across New Zealand and the Pacific. Trisia holds multiple leadership roles promoting positive social and environmental change including The New Zealand Product Stewardship Council, the Aotearoa Plastic Pollution Alliance, and Massey University’s Political Ecology Research Centre.

This presentation was part of the celebration of Dr Ed Hearnshaw’s life and took place before the awarding of the Dr Ed Hearnshaw Prize for Economics and the Environment.

Webinar: Economics, wellbeing budgets, and the environment: a promised land?

Presented by Rt Hon Simon Upton, Dr Edwin Sayes, and Dr Scott Kelly, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Thursday 24 March, 2022

How might economic tools help improve fiscal decision-making? A recent report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has questioned whether the Government’s budget process takes into account the complexities and long-term nature of many environmental problems. It examined the way the environment has – or has not – been incorporated into wellbeing budgets. The Commissioner has recommended several changes to the budget process to improve the way environmental considerations are handled and communicated through the budget process. These include recommendations related to cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-benefit analysis (discount rates), monetised environmental values, multicriteria analysis, and scenario analysis.

The underlying report (and associated material) can be found here. The slides used on the day are here. A video of the presentation will be available here until the end of April 2022.

Simon Upton is the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. He is a Rhodes Scholar, with degrees in English literature, music and law from the University of Auckland, and an MLitt in political philosophy from Oxford University. A Member of Parliament between 1981 and 2000, he held a variety of ministerial portfolios including environment, research, biosecurity and state services between 1990 and 1999. He has also served as Environment Director at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Edwin Sayes is a Senior Advisor to the PCE. He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Melbourne. Prior to joining the PCE, he was a Research Fellow in the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland.

Scott Kelly is the Chief Economic Advisor to the PCE. He is an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Technology Sydney. He received his PhD in energy, economics and climate change from the University of Cambridge.

How the OECD is leading a global conversation on new economic thinking

Presented by Dr William Hynes, OECD

What is the current state of new economic thinking globally, after ten years of input to the OECD from experts from around the world with a diverse range of perspectives and backgrounds? The debate has diverged into two separate camps: One argues we should modify, adapt and fix the neoclassical framework via more behavioural and institutional insights. Another argues we need to transform economics towards complex systems, dynamic, reflexive, and evolutionary approaches that utilise different tools and a broader range of disciplines. This short Boston Review article expands on this transdisciplinary approach to economics.

Dr Hynes is a Senior Advisor to the Secretary General of the OECD and Head of the New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) Unit which provides a space to question traditional economic ideas and offer new economic narratives, new tools, methods and policy approaches. He previously worked as a Senior Economist at NAEC, Advisor in the Sherpa and Global Governance Unit, a policy analyst in the Development Co-operation Directorate and an economic affairs officer at the World Trade Organisation.

William is an Associate Fellow and Adjunct Professor in International Economics at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, has a doctorate from Oxford University and was a Marie Curie Fellow at the London School of Economics.

A draft of William’s speech is here. You can also watch the video below.