How clean is New Zealand? Measuring and reporting on the health of our environment

01 April 2010

From the Commissioner’s overview

Measuring and assessing the state of our environment is no easy task. Unlike counting money or people using well-developed economic and social statistics, the sky is the limit for natural and physical world statistics. There is no end of parameters that could be measured. Moreover, our perspective on what should be measured changes as our understanding of the environment grows. The challenge for any country to achieve quality reporting on the state of its environment should not be underestimated.

I was surprised to learn that we have no legislated process for regular national reporting on our environment and that we are the only country in the OECD who does not. In order to improve state of the environment reporting in New Zealand I have made three recommendations to the Minister for the Environment. These are that he should:

  • draft legislation that assigns roles and responsibilities for regular reporting on the state of the environment to different public entities
  • ensure that indicators for assessing the state of the environment are reviewed, the underlying environmental statistics are significantly improved, and primary data is made publicly available on the internet
  • assign the responsibility for state of the environment reporting to an agency or agencies that can provide the required independence and technical capacity.

Measuring and reporting on the state of our environment promotes shared stewardship. If we can take a measure of the health of our water, land and air, and our native species and ecosystems we can make good decisions for our environment and, indeed, for our economy.

Resources

How clean is New Zealand? Measuring and reporting on the health of the environment

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Appendix 1 How clean is New Zealand?

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Appendix 2 How clean is New Zealand?

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