WELLINGTON HOME OF FUTURE THINKING Wellington’s Festival for the Future has ignited a network of young people wanting to change the world – alumni range from sustainabilitywarriors to EdTech innovators, human rights lawyers and even a pre-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Founder and Young NewZealander of the Year 2015, Guy Ryan, discusses why the combination of ‘Kiwi ingenuity’ andWellington, NewZealand’s geographic and political heart, attracts such a powerful gathering

has an emphasis on sustainability and a strong future vision. It’s a great hub for start- ups and nurturing upcoming talent. There’s lots of great thinkers here – in business, tech, politics, and entrepreneurs.” Does the perception that New Zealanders are innovative people help? “New Zealand is an amazing country. It’s one of the most beautiful and safest countries in the world. Our Prime Minister (ex FFTF alumni Jacinda Ardern) has one of the most positive global profiles in history. The ability to demonstrate leadership in difficult times is important, and I think New Zealand has an important role to play in helping to create solutions to the big issues of our time.” Making a difference is a huge part of your event. How do you ensure it has a lasting positive impact? “There are many layers to the impact that the Festival experience creates – from building new connections and networks; to insights that inform policy; to new ideas, projects and ventures. The Festival is run by charity Inspiring Stories, which operates with a vision to back young people to change the world. “Every year we undertake a scholarship programme to help increase access for young people to attend the Festival, with more than

What is Festival for the Future, and how did it come about? “It all started back in 2011. At the time I was a young person and concerned about a lot of the issues in the world. I wanted to bring together people in the leadership and innovation for impact space to showcase what is possible. It was very much built on the smell of an oily rag, and the first event had about 100 participants. The last few years we have capped it at 1,200 people and in 2019 we had people from countries around the Asia Pacific and US. It has evolved a lot over 10 years. It’s a pretty powerful experience.” Why has it flourished in Wellington? “We live here and love it for a reason! After a brief foray in Auckland, we decided to bring it back to Wellington. It is the political capital of the country and it’s so much easier to get Ministers or senior politicians in the room. It’s also the geographic heart of the country, which helps make it more accessible. Wellington is a great city – it’s easy to get around a conference on the beautiful waterfront. You can walk from one end of the CBD to the other in 20 minutes. In particular, we’ve built a great partnership with council to grow the event, as they see its alignment with the city’s strategy. Wellington


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