Govt proposes new Environmental Reporting Act

  • Nick Smith

Environment Minister Nick Smith today released a discussion document, Measuring Up, seeking public feedback on a proposal for a new Environmental Reporting Act.

“We need to strengthen the integrity of New Zealand’s clean, green brand by requiring independent and nationally consistent reporting on the state of our environment,” Dr Smith said at an event in Wellington to mark the 25th anniversary of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

"We are the only OECD country not required by law to produce independent state of the environment reports, yet we more than any depend on our natural environment for so much of our wealth and economic success.

“We are proposing to make the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment responsible for independently reporting on the state of the environment every five years. It will report on important issues like water quality, air quality, coast and oceans management, waste and our native plants and animals. The proposals include amendments to the RMA to improve the consistency of environmental monitoring across regions for national reporting. This would enable the PCE to rank our lakes and rivers from the cleanest to the dirtiest and identify which are improving and which are deteriorating.

“This reform was recommended by the Land and Water Forum as part of improving New Zealand’s fresh water management. Some regional councils monitor problem areas; others do on the basis of recreational usage or on a representative basis. This inconsistency enables some to minimise the problem and others to exaggerate them. Clear environmental reports will avoid wasting energy in a debate over data and help focus everyone on addressing the problem.

“This reform is part of the Government’s bluegreen agenda to improve New Zealand’s environmental institutions. Our first step was restructuring the Environment Ministry to bolster its policy capability. The second step was creating the Environmental Protection Authority. This third step is to strengthen the audit functions of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

“This discussion document on the proposed Environmental Reporting Act is the public’s chance to have a say on what a national-level environmental monitoring and reporting system for New Zealand should look like.”

Measuring Up: Environmental Reporting – A Discussion Document is available at: