The Ministry for the Environment reports to the Government and New Zealanders on the health of New Zealand’s environment. We promote the provision of quality information on New Zealand’s environment by:
The Government is committed to improving national state of the environment reporting in New Zealand. In October 2011 it released ‘Measuring Up: Environmental Reporting – A Discussion Document’ for consultation. This document sought input and views on the proposed options for improving national state of the environment reporting in New Zealand. Submissions closed on 18 October 2011 with 76 submissions received.
People who make decisions about managing natural resources, or people who develop environmental policy, depend on reliable evidence-based information on the state of the environment. The Ministry's national environmental reporting programme provides this.
Environmental reporting also helps the Ministry assess whether policies and environmental management have been effective, and whether it needs to develop new ways to deal with emerging environmental issues. It can also help decision-makers identify where more management, policy and/or funding is needed.
As well as being fundamental to the Ministry’s own policy work, the national environmental reporting programme is vital for other agencies with responsibilities for natural resource management. Increasingly, the programme serves cross-governmental work to achieve environmental sustainability.
National-level reporting is also used to report on New Zealand’s environmental performance on the international stage – for example, to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In New Zealand, environmental reporting is carried out at the national, regional and local levels.
In 2006, when the Ministry for the Environment formally resumed responsibility for national-scale environmental reporting, its first tasks were to:
The Ministry largely relies on others to collect the data and information for its national-scale reporting. This is because on-the-ground environmental monitoring is mostly carried out by regional councils and territorial authorities, Crown Research Institutes, other government departments, and other agencies. The Ministry works with them to collate the data and build a national picture.
Local government carries out a wide range of environmental monitoring to meet its obligations under section 35(2)(a) of the Resource Management Act 1991. The Act says local authorities must monitor:
…[t]he state of the whole or any part of the environment of its region or district to the extent that is appropriate to enable the local authority to effectively carry out its functions under this Act.
While local authorities must monitor their environment, and make the results publicly available at least every five years, they are not legally required to report on its state.
In fact, most councils do. Increasingly, these are targeted reports that use regional environmental indicators to monitor specific aspects of the environment – for example, biodiversity or the coastal environment.
Visit your local or regional council’s website or the environmental monitoring report links on the Quality Planning website to find out what information is available on the state of the environment in your area.
Across New Zealand, iwi, hapū and community groups are involved in projects to monitor, protect and enhance the health of their local environment. Some groups are using Ngai Tahu’s cultural health assessment of water bodies which is based on a scientific process for assessing and recording traditional Māori values.
Several activities are under way to ensure the Ministry provides accessible, high-quality information on the state of the environment. They include:
The Ministry will know if its environmental reporting is useful, fact-based and timely, if:
The Ministry's environmental reporting programme does not work in isolation. It must operate according to specific requirements and meet expectations set by the Statistics Act 1975, Statistics New Zealand and international obligations. This includes:
Last updated: 30 January 2013