New Zealand is heavily reliant on its natural environment for its economic wellbeing. The primary production sector, the tourism industry and other businesses use the land, water and other natural resources to earn foreign exchange. Having an environment that is among the best in the world is an integral part of New Zealand’s identity and competitive advantage.
Becoming more environmentally sustainable – in government, farms, businesses and in our households – will improve New Zealand’s attractiveness for the people who live here, skilled new immigrants, tourists and people overseas who buy New Zealand products.
Healthy water, air, land and built communities are essential for people’s wellbeing and health. Though New Zealand’s environment is in good condition by world standards, a number of the indicators used to measure its health are moving in the wrong direction.
The Ministry for the Environment has a growing leadership role in sustainable development. We have important relationships with the following groups which help achieve our aims.
Our main working relationships with other government departments focus on those with interests in the natural or built environment and with the core government agencies whose interests run right across the public service.
We also have partnerships with, and responsibility for advising, our Ministers on our work programmes and budgets.
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Environmental governance is shared between central and local government, with day-to-day management of the natural and built environment largely the responsibility of local government. Many of the Ministry's policies and programmes rely on local government to implement them.
We work with Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) to build our relationship with regional councils and territorial authorities.
Most New Zealand export and tourism businesses rely on New Zealand's natural environment. Agriculture and horticulture use more than 50 per cent of our land and rely on other natural resources such as water. International visitors come to this country primarily for the environment – the spectacular landscapes, biodiversity and opportunities for outdoor recreation.
All of these groups depend on the quality of our natural environment and international perceptions about a clean, safe and healthy environment.
The activities of business can affect our environment through their use of resources and hazardous substances, waste generation, greenhouse gas emissions and need for infrastructure.
We want to make it easier for New Zealand businesses to find out about and implement sustainable business practices.
Community groups take action at a local level and interact with the groups mentioned above on environmental matters of importance.
We encourage public awareness of environmental issues, action for the environment and capability-building through funding partnerships.
We also build partnerships with regional and local organisations to promote environmentally sustainable action, and we give the wider community opportunities to have a say through our public consultation on environmental policy proposals.
Last updated: 2 March 2009