Creating Futures was an innovative 4-year research project aimed at creating tools for improved decision making. The research tools are designed to inform communities about the long-term effects of current development patterns and trends. It also aims to enhance stakeholder and community engagement in choosing and planning for desired futures.
The research project was lead by the Waikato Regional Council, in collaboration with AgResearch, Landcare Research, the National Institute for Water and Atmosphere (NIWA), Scion (formerly the Forest Research Institute), University of Waikato, Ecological Economics Research New Zealand (EERNZ) and international researchers from the Netherlands, France and the USA.
The project integrated economic information, social and population statistics and environmental data across the Waikato Region to create tools for long term, holistic planning and decision-making.
The research project has been closely aligned with the Waikato Regional Council’s planning process to meet user’s needs and provide relevance to Waikato regional issues. The development of these tools recognises the links and interactions between environmental, social, cultural and economic activities and outcomes, and incorporates the need to understanding the trade-offs among those outcomes when making decisions. Although the tools being developed are applicable nationally, this project has used the Waikato region as a case study.
The Creating Futures project was completed in October 2010. The end of the research project means the begin of embedding the tools into Council’s strategic and policy processes. The Waikato Regional Council has developed an implementation plan, with an initial focus on undertaking case studies to explore the use of the integrated spatial WISE model for Council's planning and policy processes.