Govt to mandate three-yearly State of the Environment reports

  • Amy Adams

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced that the Government will legislate for independent environmental reporting that will enhance New Zealanders’ understanding about the state of our environment.

The Government will this year introduce an Environmental Reporting Bill that mandates the provision of comprehensive environmental information for New Zealanders in a way that is easy to understand, independent and relevant.

“The proposal I have announced today will allow New Zealanders to have assurance that the environmental information they are getting is credible, robust and independent,” Ms Adams says.

“Good information on the state of our environment allows us to fully understand both natural occurrences and the impact that human activities are having. Most importantly, it will show us where we need to make improvements.

“I am a firm believer in the principle that you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

The proposed environmental reporting system will provide New Zealanders with comprehensive information on five key environmental domains - air, climate and atmosphere, freshwater, marine and land, with biodiversity as a theme across all the domains.

One environmental domain report will be released every six months. In addition, a comprehensive synthesis report covering all environmental domains will be released every three years.

To deliver the respected and robust framework that is needed, the Bill will provide that the Secretary for the Environment and the Government Statistician be mandated to produce regular environmental reporting, at arm’s length from the government of the day.

“The role of the Government Statistician will give the public assurance that the information they receive is independent, accurate and free from political bias.

“Independence is a key requirement, as illustrated by the controversy in 2007 over concerns the previous Government’s state of the environment report had been subject to political interference.”

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment will have an important role to play in the proposed environmental reporting regime.

The Commissioner will have a legislative mandate to provide expert commentary and independent opinion on the quality of the underlying data and robustness of the analysis, as well as the substance of the report and any concerns it may raise.

New Zealand is currently one of only a few countries without a legislative basis for national environmental reporting.

“This new environmental reporting system will, for the first time, give us a robust, independent basis on which to track how we are performing compared to our trading partners, and will facilitate international benchmarking and comparability.

“Where possible, the system will be aligned with international reporting, such as the OECD Green Growth indicators.”