The Commissioner's 5-year strategic plan identifies significant ecosystems and several environmental management systems for investigation. These include the urban environment; the marine environment; conservation management; public participation in resource management; and the provision of information for environmental management, including environmental education and research.
There have been major advances in environmental management during the first ten years of the office. However, environmental demands of society, both within New Zealand and of our global consumers, have continued to rise as have the demands on our own environmental resources.
I therefore need to ensure that my small office addresses the most important issues for New Zealand's environmental management, focusing on areas where our work can add most value to advancing environmental management and thus contribute to underpinning New Zealand's social and economic goals.
The Commissioner's core business has to emphasize two primary roles:
These two primary roles are of equal importance to the core business of the PCE. They are in reality highly interdependent, the environmental ombudsman work providing evidence of the need for a substantive "systems" investigation.
These roles would be supported by:
The economic and social environment in New Zealand will have an impact on, and be impacted by, the quality of environmental management. Not only are there increasing demands for economic efficiency and reduction in compliance costs of regulatory regimes in the New Zealand public sector, but also a growing demand for higher levels of environmental management among some sectors of New Zealand society, our global food and fibre customers, as well as visitors to the country.
The linkages between social, economic and environmental policy have not been well developed. The strategic importance of environmental management for ensuring that the New Zealand economy continues to be sustainable should be recognised in the future. Environmental accounting initiatives and modification of national accounts, e.g. Green Gross Domestic Product may become more important, particularly as industry responds to international market pressures.
New Zealand's image as a 'clean and green' place will have to be earned in the future. We are fortunate to have a small population, isolated borders, diverse ecosystems, scattered large industry, and resourceful people. However, the country's young geology, the major modification of indigenous ecosystems, the past ethic of production from the land, and increasing urbanisation present challenges to maintaining and enhancing environmental qualities.
Despite significant diversification in the source of New Zealand's export receipts, the country is still, and will continue to be, highly dependent on maintaining the health of its natural resources to meet social and economic goals.
Our resources of land and sea, renewable energy, quality of water and air, and diverse biota are fundamental to wealth creation and maintenance. Future use of these resources will differ greatly from the traditional patterns such as farming, forestry, fishing and mining. The tourism industry and advanced pharmaceutical industries, requiring high environmental qualities, are just two examples of this.
The significant areas identified are:
These are clearly very broad topic areas within which there are a plethora of environmental management challenges. The intention is to undertake overview studies of several of the areas to better define critical environmental management needs. Some of these needs will then be addressed, over the next five years, by some specific investigations.
Such a focus is considered the best 'fit' for the PCE's functions and powers in the late 1990s. The strategic outcomes sought by 2001 include quantifiable recognition of the longer term strategic environmental risk needs in the identified areas, and evidence of environmental policy and management "shifts". Measurable gains in actual environmental qualities that could be attributed to the work of the PCE might not be evident until beyond 2001."