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Appendix 1: Principles of the Sustainable Development Water Programme of Action

The programme's vision, objectives and underlying principles are:

Freshwater is managed wisely to provide for the present and future social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing of New Zealand


  • Not all expectations and needs for freshwater are currently being met and demands are growing
  • Water quality is declining in many areas and is unacceptable in some catchments
  • Given the range of people's interests in water it is difficult to establish priorities for action

Sustainable development: Sustain the health of freshwater ecosystems

  • Protect public health
  • Facilitate economic growth and innovation
  • Facilitate public use, access and enjoyment
  • Enhance environmental protection
  • Manage freshwater in the context of Māori cultural values and the Treaty relationship between Crown and Māori

Key principles to achieve these objectives

  • Decision-making is transparent, participatory and timely
  • Manage within the constraints of uncertainty and cost
  • Respect existing rights, interests and values, and future options
  • Maintain environmental bottom lines and avoid, remedy, or mitigate adverse environmental effects
  • Decision-making occurs at the appropriate level and balances local and national interests
  • Decision-making is underpinned by adequate information
  • Water is made available over time for its highest value use*

* Value is defined in its holistic sense and not just in reference to economic value. 'Highest value use' encompasses all aspects of sustainable development: environmental, social, cultural and economic.