Submission to Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways Green Paper (2022)


This submission is based on the Deep South Challenge: Changing with our Climate experience of funding and delivering expert climate modelling and adaptation research and science. This submission sits alongside the submission by the Vision Mātauranga Engagement Team, Deep South
Challenge: Changing with our Climate to Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways green paper. We have not commented on other views on the science structure in Aotearoa NZ.

At the onset of the Deep South Challenge, we developed a clear vision, mission, objectives, and research strategy. A large amount of research is needed to prepare Aotearoa for the climate change that is locked in, as well as those impacts which are still uncertain. We invested resource in developing relationships across research institutions, with a strong focus on encouraging interdisciplinary and inter-institution project teams, to reduce silos and competition and increase collaboration for the public good. We also established a standalone engagement research programme, a move which triggered innovation in engagement approaches across the National
Science Challenges. It was important for us to prioritise research (and be clear on what research not to prioritise) given the limited sum of funding in the Challenge.

It took around two years for the Challenge to do this initial work. Currently, two years before the Challenge ends, we are about to finish distributing funds to give enough time for new research projects to be completed and results communicated or engaged with. Important areas such as climate adaptation (and mitigation) need continuity of funding that does not change the funding arrangements and/or institutions every 5 to 10 years.

Nevertheless, the smaller time horizon for the Challenge has encouraged innovation and collaboration in both research and methods for commissioning research.

We found the separation of funding from delivery of research was important. Independent National Science Challenges can assess which organisations can deliver the research required to achieve respective missions. Governance by an independent board also allows for objective investment across appropriate institutions. Contracting with clear deliverables and milestones has meant that we have had good oversight of spending public funding.

We agree that there is “persistent uncertainty about the value of investments” and a recent effort to understand where climate change research funding was being directed (via investment landscape mapping) made it clear that many research institutions and government departments do not keep this information. Furthermore, of the funding information we were able to collate, only $22m of $329m from 2010 to present was invested in projects by Māori, for Māori, quantifying the lack of equity in this aspect of the science system.

Future Crown research funding should not be viewed in a piecemeal way. Other funding, such as the Performance Based Research Fund should also be considered when looking at the future RSI system.

A full copy of our submission can be viewed here.