MfE and Stats NZ welcome opportunity to continue improving environmental reporting

Date:  07 November 2019

The Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ welcome a report released today by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton, which reviews the performance of the reporting system created under the Environmental Reporting Act 2015.

Secretary for the Environment Vicky Robertson said the Commissioner’s independent review largely reinforces the Ministry’s (MfE) own thinking and changes already made around environmental reporting. 

“We look forward to continuing to improve and evolve New Zealand’s environmental reporting system. It’s vital we clearly understand the health of our country’s environment so policy makers and businesses can make informed decisions for a sustainable future.”

The Environmental Reporting Act 2015 requires regular state of the environment reports from MfE and Stats NZ. Since the Act’s inception, the departments have jointly released seven environment reports, and a range of environmental indicators, which present information and data relating to particular aspects of the five domains.

“Our state of the environment report, Environment Aotearoa 2019, highlighted the need for improvements in the current environmental reporting system. A robust system is crucial so all New Zealanders have access to trusted information, and we can continue developing evidence-based government policies. Good environmental monitoring depends on good data,” said Ms Robertson. 

“A strong economy relies on a healthy environment. Environmental reporting helps New Zealand businesses understand the physical and financial risks of climate change – and act upon them – and that will assist New Zealand’s long-term transition to a low-emissions country.”

“The review recommendations allow us to build on improvements already made, like the inclusion of citizen science through new community partnerships, new satellite data, and a better understanding of te ao Māori (Māori world view) in analysing environmental change.”

Government Statistician Liz MacPherson acknowledged the importance of the Commissioner’s role in the environmental reporting system and said the timing for this review was especially appropriate.

“As we set out on our second cycle of domain reports, this is a good time to reflect on the system as a whole. Since we began in 2015, we have learnt a lot and improved much – for example, moving to an issues-based report structure, and adopting the previous Commissioner’s recommended criteria for selecting environmental issues.”

Ms MacPherson said it is important that New Zealand now has regular reporting on the state of the environment as this hasn’t always been the case, and noted how the programme has evolved since its establishment. 

“Environmental reporting is all about putting robust, independent, rigorously checked information into the hands of decision-makers and the wider public. We should always be open to new ways of doing that,” said Ms MacPherson.

The Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ will continue to work together to play a critical leadership role in furthering the evolution of the environmental reporting system. 

ENDS. 

Ministry for the Environment media contact: media@mfe.govt.nz and 027 231 6930 

Stats NZ media contact: communications@stats.govt.nz and 04 931 4326