The Motu Public Policy Seminar series provides a forum for informed debate on important public policy issues. 

Our seminars are accessible to a wide audience, and are attended by people from diverse backgrounds who want to stay informed on economic, social and public policy research. The seminars are presented by the Motu Senior Fellows and Affiliates, as well as other top visiting academics from within New Zealand or around the world.

Improving Lives with Global Human Rights Data: Past, Present, & Promise

K Chad ClaySpeaker: Dr K Chad Clay, Director, Center for the Study of Global Issues (GLOBIS), Associate Professor, International Affairs, University of Georgia.
Details: 12.30pm-2pm, Thursday 22 August, Aronui Lecture Theatre, Royal Society of New Zealand, Turnbull Street, Wellington.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turned 70 years old on December 10, 2018. While much progress has been made in the time since the Universal Declaration’s writing, we still fall far short on most of its provisions. One reason for this shortfall is the lack of accepted human rights data that allow us to determine where states are living up to international human rights standards and where they are failing to do so. In this seminar, we will discuss the history of human rights measurement, the difficulties associated with producing accurate and reliable human rights data, and the ways in which the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) is working to overcome those problems. Finally, we will close with a discussion of the future prospects of using human rights data and education to push for change internationally and, ultimately, improve people's lives worldwide.

Bio: Chad is a political scientist with a deep interest in furthering our understanding of human rights practices, political violence, organised dissent, and economic development. Chad teaches classes on human rights, international relations, and political economy in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) at the University of Georgia, where he will soon serve as the Director of the Center for the Study of Global Issues (GLOBIS), and has published widely in leading journals. One of the co-founders of the Human Rights Measurement Initiative, Chad is leading the design and development of HRMI's Civil and Political Rights metrics. He brings with him more than a decade of experience in the area of measuring human rights, including as co-director of the (now archived) CIRI Human Rights Data Project. Chad received his PhD in political science from Binghamton University in 2012.

Emissions Budgeting: A UK Perspective On Zero Carbon

Mike Thompson

Speaker: Mike Thompson, UK Committee on Climate Change
Details: 2.30-3.30pm, Tuesday 27 August, Aronui Lecture Theatre, Royal Society of New Zealand, Turnbull Street, Wellington.

Mike Thompson from the UK Committee on Climate Change (UK CCC) is currently on secondment to the Interim Climate Change Committee.  Mike has been involved with the UK CCC since the very beginning, and helped the UK set its first carbon budgets. We wanted to give you an opportunity to hear from Mike about how the UK approached emissions budgeting, and what they’ve learnt. This may be of interest to you because of the emissions budgeting process being proposed in the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. Mikes presentation will cover:

  • The general need for national climate legislation and the UK Act as an example of that
  • Net-zero ambition and what that means for the UK
  • The UK story so far

Bio: Mike Thompson is Head of Carbon Budgets at the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the independent statutory adviser to the UK Government on its climate targets and carbon policy, created under the Climate Change Act. Mike was one of the CCC’s first staff members in 2007 and leads the Committee’s work on mitigation – how fast the UK should cut emissions and how that can be done.  Most recently he led the work for the Committee’s report on ‘Net Zero’, setting out how and why the UK should end its impact on global warming within 30 years.

Ideas for Improving World Order—The SERF Index and what it reveals

Susan Randolph squareSpeaker: Dr Susan Randolph, Co-Director of the Research Program on Economic & Social Rights at the University of Connecticut’s Human Rights Institute.
Details: 12.30pm-2pm, Thursday 29 August, Aronui Lecture Theatre, Royal Society of New Zealand, Turnbull Street, Wellington.

The prestigious Grawemeyer Award for “Ideas Improving World Order” was won by Susan Randolph, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Terra Lawson Remer this year for their book: Fulfilling Social and Economic Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015). Susan Randolph will share the main concepts introduced in the book, as well as key findings about the global state of economic and social rights (the rights to food, education, health, housing, work, and social security) and what matters for strong performance. She will then discuss how the ideas are currently being adapted by the Human Rights Measurement Initiative to meet the needs of human rights advocates, practitioners, journalists and everyday people worldwide,including via an examination of New Zealand's economic and social rights performance and its policy implications.

Bio: Susan’s life-long interest in people’s wellbeing and economic development has led her to push the frontiers of our knowledge and help develop a ground-breaking approach for measuring the fulfillment of Economic and Social Rights. Her recent book describing this approach, Fulfilling Social and Economic Rights with Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Terra Lawson-Remer (Oxford University Press, 2015), won the 2016 best book of the year award from the American Political Science Association’s Human Rights Section, and the three authors were awarded the 2019 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.

One of the co-founders of the Human Rights Measurement Initiative, Susan is leading the design and development of HRMI's Economic and Social Rights metrics. Susan is Co-Director of the Economic and Social Rights Empowerment Initiative, and Co-Director of the Research Program on Economic & Social Rights at the University of Connecticut’s Human Rights Institute. She is an emerita associate professor of economics at the University of Connecticut. She has a PhD in economics from Cornell University.

Triumph of the high-amenity city? Analysing urban development in New Zealand

Stuart Donovan2Speaker: Stuart Donovan, Researcher, Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge
Details: 5-6.30pm, Thursday 3 October, Room 105-029, Clock Tower Building, University of Auckland, 22 Princes St, Auckland CBD

Around the world urbanisation continues apace, giving rise to new policy opportunities and challenges. In this talk, Stuart will present the results of ongoing Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities research into urban development in New Zealand. This research is overseen by Arthur Grimes and Dave Maré from Motu. By adapting and applying spatial economic models of location choice, Stuart will discuss how urban development benefits both firms and households in New Zealand using a unique data set that tracks economic outcomes in 130 cities and towns over almost 40 years. Preliminary results suggest firms and households both benefit from strong urban agglomeration economies. For firms, these benefits appear to be linked to the local pool of highly-skilled workers, whereas local and regional scale offers benefits to households. Evidence indicates that New Zealand households place a high value on natural amenities, such as climate and recreation. To finish, Stuart will reflect on implications for policy settings and opportunities for further research.

Seminar sponsored by Te Pūnaha Matatini and Veitch Lister Consulting.

Bio: Stuart is currently studying towards a PhD at the Department of Spatial Economics at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, where he is supervised by Henri L. F. de Groot. Stuart's research interests include spatial, transport, and urban economics; transport and land use policy; and urban agglomeration economies. When not travelling for work or study, Stuart resides in Brisbane with his family and a motley collection of animals.

Previous Seminars

You can find slides (and sometimes audio) from previous Public Policy Seminars here.

Sign Up

The seminars are free to the public, and there is no need to register to attend. You can sign up here to receive email invitations to either our Wellington or Auckland seminars.

Our Public Policy Seminar Series is generously sponsored by Statistics New Zealand.