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New Zealand sustainable development programme of action

The New Zealand government launched its Sustainable Development Programme of Action in January 2003 to ensure that sustainable development concepts underpin all government activity, and that government decisions ensure the well-being of current and future generations.

The programme of action establishes a set of operating principles for policy development that require government to take account of the economic, social, environmental, and cultural consequences of its decisions by:

  • considering the long-term implications of decisions
  • seeking innovative solutions that are mutually reinforcing, rather than accepting that gain in one area will necessarily be achieved at the expense of another
  • using the best information available to support decision making
  • addressing risks and uncertainty when making choices and taking a precautionary approach when making decisions that may cause serious or irreversible damage
  • working in partnership with local government and other sectors and encouraging transparent and participatory processes
  • considering the implications of decisions from a global as well as a New Zealand perspective
  • decoupling economic growth from pressures on the environment
  • respecting environmental limits, protecting ecosystems and promoting the integrated management of land, water and living resources
  • working in partnership with appropriate Māori authorities to empower Māori in development decisions that affect them
  • respecting human rights, the rule of law and cultural diversity.

The programme of action focuses on the practical application of the sustainable development approach to certain key issues:

Sustainable development must be at the core of all government policy. This programme of action is the third document issued by this government in order to focus and re-orient government policy making and processes. The other documents are Growing an Innovative New Zealand (the Growth and Innovation Framework) and Key Government Goals to Guide the Public Sector in Achieving Sustainable Development (Annex 1, page 30). All three documents are consistent and mutually reinforcing in their approach.

For more information on the programme of action see the Minister’s media release and speech to the Auckland Mayoral Forum on the Beehive website.

Last updated: 12 March 2008