Searching the globe for initiatives that effectively address pressing issues of public and social policy - and assessing ways in which such lessons may be applied in New Zealand.
There is a global network of think tanks that has grown in size and scope over recent years. We aim to select from centres sharing our broad mission the best briefings and reports for distribution and commentary in New Zealand.
The world is awash with data and with commentaries, briefings and reports of every kind. Not enough is made of this resource. Our goal is to draw on existing sources, evaluate them, and supplement and package them for policy debates in New Zealand.
Is it time to consider a re-set of our policy settings in dealing with drugs? Helen Clark is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy that seeks to address such a "re-set" internationally. Are there good, evidence-based initiatives in the drug policy area that we could undertake in New Zealand and that reduce the punitive and costly regime we now support?
How do we recover our environmental baselines? Helen Clark chairs the advisory committee for the Norwegian government's climate and forest initiative aid programme. Is the planting of a billion trees the best way to wind back our environmental losses, or are there other initiatives we should be trying based on international experience?
Politics and public policy in New Zealand are dictated by the three-yearly electoral cycle. There is no public agency vested with the task of looking at the long term, with the possible exception of Treasury. Can we "crystal ball" gaze in a disciplined and scientific manner and scope a range of future scenarios for New Zealand, given current certainties and future contingencies?
What is the best way to monitor the performance of the education system? Helen Clark is chair of UNESCO's advisory board of the Global Education Monitoring Report. Is there anything that can be learned for New Zealand from the international experience on monitoring education?
What would a sustainable development agenda for New Zealand look like? Helen Clark is co-chair of the peer review committee for the sustainable development agenda of the German government. How would such an approach translate into the New Zealand setting? How would it articular with the commitment to climate change goals and initiatives?
Two trends have influenced research on public policy in recent years - the emphasis on evidence-based decision-making, and the use of much stronger evaluations methods (such as randomised control trials, quasi-experimental methods). While New Zealand has not been immune to these trends, perhaps more could be done, and much more could be achieved by drawing on the international literature on "what works" in policy.