Environment 2010 Strategy

Simon Upton Environment

Through the Resource Management Act 1991, New Zealand committed itself to managing natural and physical resources sustainably and to taking into account the needs of future generations. Now the Environment 2010 Strategy gives us, for the first time, a strategic overview of the way we deal with environmental issues.

A statement of broad strategic directions in environmental policy, the Environment 2010 Strategy sets out the Government's vision, principles and goals for the environment to the year 2010. It establishes the framework within which central and local government and the private sector can develop their own policies and plans.

It is a Strategy that will affect every New Zealander, because it relies on individuals and organisations taking responsibility for their effects on the environment.


The vision for the New Zealand environment to 2010 is:

a clean, healthy and unique environment, sustaining nature and people's needs and aspirations.


The Government has developed 11 principles for integrating environment, society and economy. The principles are:

  • Sustainably managing natural and physical resources
  • Applying the Precautionary Principle
  • Defining environmental bottom lines
  • Internalising external environmental costs
  • Specifying property rights to achieve sustainable outcomes
  • Ensuring that "least cost" policy tools are adopted
  • Ensuring that social and environmental goals are mutually supportive
  • Following full cost pricing principles in pricing public utility infrastructure
  • Considering local, national and international dimensions of sustainable resource management in determining publicly funded research priorities
  • Defining the limits of resource use and substitution
  • Protecting our international competitiveness

Priority Issues

The Environment 2010 Strategy identifies eleven priority issues which New Zealand must deal with if we are to improve the quality of our environment and achieve the vision. The priority issues are:

  • Managing our land resources
  • Managing our water resources
  • Maintaining clear, clean breatheable air
  • Protecting indigenous habitats and biological diversity
  • Managing pests, weeds and diseases
  • Sustainable fisheries
  • Managing the environmental impacts of energy services
  • Managing the environmental effects of transport
  • Managing waste, contaminated sites and hazardous substances
  • Reducing the risk of climate change
  • Restoring the ozone layer


The Strategy spells out some goals that the Government believes New Zealand can and should aspire to. The goals are concerned with the quality of both the rural and urban environment, and relate to the eleven priority issues listed above:

  1. To maintain and enhance the quality, productivity and life-supporting capacity of our soils, so that they can support a variety of viable land use options.
  2. To manage the quality and quantity of surface water, groundwater, coastal and geothermal water so that it can meet the current and future needs of ecological systems, communities (including Maori), primary production and industry, by:
    • maintaining sufficient water in water bodies to meet current and future needs;
    • ensuring New Zealand's surface freshwaters and coastal waters are of a quality suitable to meet community needs such as swimming, fishing and shellfish gathering, and that aquatic life is not significantly affected by discharges;
    • preventing further degradation of, and restoring, groundwater quality and quantity;
    • preventing degradation of quality and flow of identified water resources of national significance to New Zealanders for recreational, scenic, scientific or cultural reasons.
  3. To maintain air quality in parts of New Zealand that enjoy clean air, and improve air quality in places where it has deteriorated.
  4. To protect indigenous habitats and biological diversity by:
    • Maintaining and enhancing the net area of New Zealand's remaining indigenous forests and enhancing the ecological integrity of other remaining indigenous ecosystems;
    • Promoting the conservation and sustainable management of biological diversity so that the quality of our indigenous and exotic ecosystems is maintained or enhanced to guard against extinctions and permit adaptation to changing environmental conditions.
  5. To manage pests, weeds and diseases by reducing the risks they pose, to levels consistent with New Zealand's established objectives for:
    • biological diversity of ecosystems;
    • people's health; and
    • biosecurity of the economy.
  6. To conserve and manage New Zealand's fisheries for the benefit of all New Zealanders by providing for sustainable utilisation of fisheries resources, including commercial, recreational and Maori customary take.
  7. To manage sustainably the environmental impacts of producing and using energy services.
  8. To manage the provision of transport services in a manner which minimises adverse effects on the natural and physical environment and human health.
  9. To manage waste, and thereby reduce risks to environmental quality and public health to levels that are widely agreed as being socially acceptable;

    To clean up contaminated sites to reduce risk to the environment, people and the economy; and

    To manage or prevent the harmful effects of hazardous substances in order to protect the environment and wellbeing of people and communities, so as to enable the maximum net national benefit to be achieved.

  10. To take precautionary actions to help stabilise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in order to reduce risk from global climate change, and to meet New Zealand's commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including:
    • To return net emissions of carbon dioxide to no more than their 1990 levels by the year 2000 (but aim for a reduction in net carbon dioxide emissions to 20 percent below their 1990 levels by the year 2000 if this is cost-effective and will not harm our trade) and to maintain them at this level thereafter; and
    • To reduce net emissions of other greenhouse gases, particularly methane, by the year 2000 where possible and maintain them at those levels thereafter.
  11. To help achieve the full recovery of the ozone layer and constrain peak levels of ozone destruction by phasing out imports of ozone depleting substances as quickly as possible and at rates no less than those agreed internationally, and by limiting, where practical, emissions of those substances that are imported.

The Environment 2010 Strategy will depend on the actions taken by central and local government, iwi, industry, non-government organisations, communities and individuals.

Environmental Management Agenda

A six-part Environmental Management Agenda will help us achieve the vision. The goals of the Environmental Management Agenda are:

  1. To integrate environmental, social and economic factors into the mainstream of decision making in all sectors, at all levels.
  2. To develop and maintain an effective, coherent body of law and practice for achieving efficient and sustainable management of the environment.
  3. To develop a range of policy tools, to be used within the framework of law, to achieve the desired environmental outcomes that most benefit society and the economy.
  4. To achieve a comprehensive and reliable information base on the environment which will aid informed and sound decisions on the protection and sustainable management of New Zealand's natural and physical resources.
  5. To encourage environmentally responsible behaviour and informed participation in decision making by promoting environmental education throughout the community.
  6. To ensure that people have the opportunity for effective participation in decision making that affects the environment.

For further information or a copy of the full Environment 2010 Strategy please contact:

Public Affairs Directorate
Ministry for the Environment
PO Box 10-362
New Zealand