What do you think are the biggest issues of our time?

Festival for the Future has grown to become one of New Zealand’s most significant annual events, bringing together 1,200+ emerging leaders and influencers to explore the big issues of our time and make a difference for our future.

Designing the programme and experience each year is no small task. It’s a huge undertaking that draws on research and insights from a range of areas. This includes sources like the World Economic Forum, the United Nation’s Global Goals, the New Zealand Government and Business priorities, and of course our growing community of alumni and influencers who span public, private and community sectors nationwide. The collective potential of getting so many amazing people in one room is incredibly exciting, and also incredibly important that what we create is as inspiring, relevant and as impactful as possible.

In April 2019 more than 200 people completed the Festival survey, sharing their thoughts on issues of national and global significance, with a particular focus on the issues where greater action and leadership is most important, as well as how the Festival could help to make a difference on these issues. Survey respondents came from every region nationwide, with the majority respondents aged 30 or younger.


Survey respondents ranked discrimination, prejudice and racism as the single most significant issue requiring greater action and leadership, with other top-ranking issues including climate change and mental health and wellbeing.

Discrimination, racism, and prejudice outpaced all other priority areas, with 93% agreeing that it was the leading issue of our time.

This has relevance across every sector of society – from business and government, to community and education. The Christchurch Mosque massacre has elevated this issue significantly, and there is much work to be done. As well as the response from the New Zealand Government, a group of New Zealand business leaders published an Open Letter with a call to action for inclusion, and Global Women’s Champions for Change initiative has been building a great resource bank to support action in the workplace.

I'm really interested in the topic of white privilege and how to have conversations about theses issues in everyday life.

Create a truly inclusive environment where each person feels they have a part to play, story to share even if it’s not on the big stage.

How do we combat this on Social Media?


The second leading issue nationally was climate change, with 88.2% agreeing that it is a major issue facing New Zealand right now.

In March 2019 the Executive Director for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change , Patricia Espanosa, stated that ‘the urgency to address climate change has never been greater.’ The New Zealand Government is also working to introduce the Zero Carbon Act in 2019, and climate change is also a priority area for New Zealand’s Sustainable Business Council. The Festival survey respondents shared their thoughts on the urgency, how the Festival could best contribute to their knowledge and skills around the issue, and make a difference.

It’s not happening in thirty years, it’s happening now.”

What does our current emissions trajectory mean?  What are citizens, business and government doing to reduce emissions and adapt? What actions can we take to accelerate action on climate change?”

“I would love to see more Maori, Pacific, Indigenous peoples speaking to the issue of Climate change”

“How important is it for us to cut down our individual impact e.g. going zero waste or considering a vegan or more plant based diet. Which companies are doing an amazing job that we should be supporting, who should we be challenging to do more.”

In the video below, 2018 Edmund Hillary Laureate, Johan Rockström presents a summary of the science surrounding climate change, with a sobering call for urgent action and leadership.

How can we build mental health and wellbeing into our workplaces and homes?

Mental Health and Wellbeing was ranked by survey respondents as the third major priority area; with 88% of respondents ranking it as a very important issue facing New Zealanders right now. In July 2019, New Zealand is set to be the first country in the world to introduce a Wellbeing Budget, which will seek to measure and report on the nation’s wellbeing across a range of key areas – financial, environment, social and cultural. Wellbeing in the workplace is also growing area of interest for both employers and employees, and we’re seeing examples from companies like Perpetual Guardian who recently introduced the 4 Day Working Week.

Tools and strategies to support wellbeing in the workplace, and actions that employers can take to better support their employees.

I want to understand the research into causes and if the apparent surge in issues is really a reflection of a growing problem or if society is just becoming more open about these issues. Either way, it's a massive issue and one that needs much more attention.

Everyone has their own, unique relationship with their health and wellbeing. Personally, I would like to learn more about other perspectives so that I can have a better understanding of mental health as a whole, rather than just how I see it.

Unpack what the wellbeing budget actually means, and how it will be implemented.


As we work to design the Festival programme and experience, there are some incredible people, resources and data points to draw on. Our gratitude goes out to everyone who has generously shared their insights and time already to help inform our thinking for this year’s Festival. Thank you. We’ll be releasing the draft programme in May. It’s incredibly exciting, and we can’t wait to share this with you!