by jason brown, editor One man news agency Avaiki Nius Agency has compiled top 10 issues for 2007 - focusing on global challenges from an urgent Pacific Island perspective. This list attempts to identify issues in terms of what causes most of the problems facing the region today - rather than focusing on symptoms like so-called "ethnic tensions." Updates on this site will maintain a watching eye on these issues, while deepening links to existing information. Top 10 issues in order of highly arguable importance are: 1. Global warming. Mounting evidence suggests debate needs to be changed from heated arguments about best-case scenarios, and constructive arguments towards solutions for worst-case scenarios. Already, recognition of the plight of polar bears is a quiet but seismic change in United States policy towards the environment. Pacific Islanders need to monitor early signs of tectonic policy shifts in order to surf the coming wave of environmentally friendly policies, products and services, including for finance centres. Planetary resources will be mobilised over the next 10 years to put world authorities on an emergency retooling from carbon-based fossil fuels to eco-neutral technologies. Smart tax havens will offer green incentives to register - ways to go one better than the law, rather than trying to avoid it.
2. Corruption. Headline grabbing cases like Enron will become the norm, not the scapegoat exception. Voters will empower new levels of public inquiry and due process to lock big business into ever more holistic concepts of corporate citizenship. Coca Cola might volunteer to advertise water as much as cans with ten teaspoons of sugar, for example, or be successfully sued for negligence.
3. Governance. So-called good governance is not just about preventing corruption. Paradigm shifts in transparency - and accountability - will be made as voters strip the last vestiges of Victorian-era secrecy from public bodies and any private ones impacting on the public. Every one in other words. Voluntary transparency will skyrocket, with curriculum vitae being expanded to include less flattering details like mental health and sero status - becoming a kind of curriculum veritas.
4. Information. Corporate domination of politics, including funding for most political parties, has helped squash public debate of issues counter to their interests. Newspapers, radios, TV and magazine organisations of any influence have been bought up or forced out of business. So-called watchdogs like the BBC have been undermined and, outside the UK, consistently underfunded as in Australia, or overly corporatised, as in New Zealand and the rest of the Pacific Islands. An explosion in web technologies - Web 2.0 - will see internet made as free to use as driving on a road. Monthly, or annual taxes maybe, but island governments will recognise access to free and unfiltered information is key to survival. Free internet will also equalise millennia long injustices between genders - at first through name and shame activism, later through exploding community links.
5. Politics. Humanity has seen the hightide of corporate fuelled greed and abuse of power wash over the Bush administration. The pendulum has swung from threat of global domination by communists, to almost Nazi indifference under corporate mainstream media to deaths of tens of thousands of children a day from easily preventable disease and starvation. Democrats have hung back and given the Republicans more than enough rope to hang themselves. This year will see the right wing slaughtered for unimaginable abuses. More than a few left wing politicians will also be consumed by public indignation for their secret memberships of equally questionable organisations. Much of this will be fuelled by huge increases in the number of people going online to expose and bear true witness to events around them. Time magazine recognises this power by making "You" the Person of the Year, for the first time in its history.
6. Planning. Much of the planetary retooling mentioned above will result in a collapse of big business, as economies decentralise and populations move towards localised self-sustainability. Community leaders will be called on for thinking not just outside the box, but inside it as well.
7. Youth. More of the planetary population is under 30 than is alive over it. Massive resources will be directed towards not just physical infrastructure, like free internet cables, or flooding earthworks. Youth will also provide the link between added-value, personalised mass production using old world skills and target markets, linked and loaded to the internet. For example, brooms will come from local manufacturers, not China.
8. Transport. Aotearoa and the rest of the Pacific Islands have world-beating skills in eco-friendly transportation, otherwise known as sailing. Skills learnt on weekend dinghies and winning the America's Cup will attract large scale investment as opportunities are realised in tranforming global travel from fast air travel to fast sea transportation. High speed internet access everywhere from long-planned low-orbit satellites will pick up where Iridium left off, allowing virtual office work on schooners and other ocean liners cabable of thriving in cyclone conditions.
9. Culture. Strategic value in ancient survival and subsistence skills will be recognised as essential to human development in the event of global catastrophe. Discovery channel recently reported that a seven year cycle in solar flaring could easily wipe out every electronic device on the planet - as early as 2011. Better safe than sorry our mothers told us. Be prepared, advise our youth leaders.
10. HIV/AIDS. Global responses to this most intimate of diseases will back-engineer societal attitudes to sex and other previously taboo topics of human existence. Religious leaders including the Catholic Church are already showing signs of releasing their vice-like grip on issues of morality and working towards the betterment of congregations in new and, yes, exciting ways. Next :: Is Transparency International corrupt?