This page explains why the Environmental Reporting Act 2015 was introduced and what it means for environmental reporting in New Zealand.
Link to the Act
Environmental Reporting Act 2015 [New Zealand Legislation website]
What the Act does
The Government is committed to improving national environmental reporting in New Zealand and has been working to improve the way it is undertaken.
In February 2014 Environment Minister Amy Adams introduced the Environmental Reporting Bill. In September 2015 the Environmental Reporting Act 2015 (the Act) was passed into law.
The Act makes responsibilities for environmental reporting explicit, sets the broad framework for the scope of reporting and timing for reporting products.
Who does what under the Act
Under the Act, the Government Statistician and the Secretary for the Environment have responsibility for environmental reporting.
Government Statistician [Statistics New Zealand website]
The involvement of the Government Statistician ensures that reporting is conducted at arm's length from the Government of the day and released in line with:
Principles and protocols for producers of Tier 1 statistics [Statisphere website].
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment can comment on any aspect of reporting which provides a further degree of independence.
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment [Parliamentary Commissioner website]
Framework for environmental reporting
The framework for environmental reporting divides the environment into five environmental domains for the purpose of reporting. Under each domain we report on three main types of information: pressures, states and impacts.
Topics for each domain have been identified and set in the Environmental Reporting (topics for Environmental Reports) Regulations 2016 , under the Environmental Reporting Act 2015.
For more information on the:
- framework see A framework for environmental reporting in New Zealand
- domains see Structure of environmental reporting
- topics see Topics for environmental reporting.
Reporting using the framework
‘Environment Aotearoa 2015' and the ‘2014 Air Domain Report’ have been produced using the new framework. These reports were produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand while the Environmental Reporting Bill was being considered by Parliament. We produced these reports using the same rigorous quality control and independent processes proposed in the Bill. 'Our marine environment 2016' and 'Our fresh water 2017' are the first two domain reports to be released under the new legislation.
See also Environmental Reporting Series – release dates [Statistics New Zealand website].
Introducing the Act
The changes to environmental reporting introduced by the Act follow the recommendations of the document ‘Measuring up: Environmental reporting – A discussion document’ released in 2011. This document put forward options for improvements to environmental reporting.
It proposed the following key changes:
- improve the consistency of environmental monitoring statistics at local levels
- create a statutory obligation in New Zealand to require regular and independent state of the environment reporting.
There were 76 submissions to the discussion document.
For further information see:
- Improving environmental reporting data
- Measuring up: environmental reporting - summary of submissions [PDF 280 KB]
- Environmental reporting - submissions received.
Find out more
- A framework for environmental reporting
Explains the new approach to environmental reporting and sets out the high-level questions environmental reporting seeks to answer in each of the five environmental domains.
- Cabinet papers about the Environmental Reporting Bill
- Environmental Reporting Bill: departmental report [New Zealand Parliament website]
- Environmental Reporting Bill (189-2) (30 March 2015) [New Zealand Parliament website]
Outlines the development of the Environmental Reporting Bill in the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.
Ministers' media releases and speeches on the Beehive website
- New Environmental Reporting Act passed
- Environmental Reporting Bill first reading
- Environmental Reporting Bill introduced
- Govt to mandate three-yearly state of the environment reports
- Govt proposes new Environmental Reporting Act
- "Measuring Up" - speech on 25th anniversary of Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment