New Environmental Reporting Act passed

  • Nick Smith
  • Craig Foss
Environment Statistics

New Zealand’s clean, green brand will be strengthened with the passage of the Environmental Reporting Act by Parliament today, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Statistics Minister Craig Foss say. 

“The new Environmental Reporting Act will back up our clean, green brand with authoritative and independent information on the state of our environment. It will tell us where we match up, where we don’t and give regular updates so that we can track long-term changes,” Dr Smith says.

“It is a truism that we manage what we measure. This new law requiring fair and accurate reports on the state of the environment reflects the increased importance New Zealanders put on our natural wealth. The Government Statistician will determine which statistics meet the high quality standards required, and this independence is further strengthened by the role of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment who can audit each report,” Mr Foss says. 

The Act requires the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand to publish a report every six months on one of the five environmental domains (air, freshwater, land, marine, atmosphere and climate), with the cycle beginning with freshwater in mid-2016. A synthesis report, with analysis of air, freshwater, land, marine, atmosphere and climate trends and interactions, will be published every three years. 

“The implementation of this new Act will be challenging because of the complexity of measuring the natural world. The Environment Aotearoa 2015 report to be published jointly by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand on 21 October will be a pilot based on the new framework and statistical standard required by the Act. We will subsequently be consulting on the regulations on what topics are to be included in future reports and provide the opportunity for feedback on the pilot report,” Mr Foss says.

“Open reporting is a powerful tool for improving performance. The Fiscal Responsibility Act 1994 requiring open reporting of public accounts played a pivotal role in improving the management of New Zealand’s finances. The objective of this new Environmental Reporting Act is to reduce the debate over where New Zealand has environmental problems and to help focus the Government, councils and communities on finding long-term, sustainable solutions,” Dr Smith says.

“New Zealand is the only OECD country to not have a statutory requirement for state of the environment reporting. This new law delivers on National’s ‘Bluegreen’ policy commitment to address this anomaly,” Dr Smith concluded.