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Sustainable Development Needs Local Input


MEDIA RELEASE

Successful Sustainable Development Needs Local Input

For immediate release on 16 July 2001

Central government has invited local government to help draft a national Sustainable Development Strategy for New Zealand.

Opening the Local Government New Zealand Conference in Wellington today, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, told delegates that strong partnerships would be needed between central and local government, the private sector, NGOs, Maori and all our communities to achieve world leader status in sustainable development.

“The nations which are prospering today are those which have the capacity to create new knowledge and to apply it to new and existing industries,” she said. “We know New Zealand has the capacity to be one of those nations and we are now running to catch up.”

Referring to the current review of the Local Government Act as an empowering process for both local and Central Government, the Prime Minister said that empowering local government to work for the well being of its communities is at the very heart of the changes the Government seeks to make.

“No longer will there be a detailed prescription in statute of what local government can and can’t do. That legislative strait-jacket has held local government back,” she said.

“We see government as a leader, a coordinator, a facilitator, a broker, a partner, and often a funder and provider as well as involved in the critical task of economic and social transformation….We propose that [the Local Government Act’s] purpose should be to enable local decision-making by and on behalf of citizens in their local communities to promote their social, economic, cultural and environmental well being in the present and for the future.”

This definition is designed to fit with local government’s critical role in sustainable development … about meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” she said.

Ms Clark said she wanted to make a strong statement on the New Zealand approach when she addressed the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa in September next year – a decade after the Rio Earth Summit.

“Our country has swung between extremes of policy and direction in recent decades… New Zealand has simply failed to turn in the consistent economic performance at high rates of growth which are necessary to sustain first world living standards.”

To ensure environmental and social considerations get weighed alongside economic factors in decision-making, the concept of triple bottom line reporting is being applied.

Ms Clark said that she sees local government as an essential partner in the economic, social and sustainable development of New Zealand and looked forward to working with the sector.

More than 660 Mayors, Chairs, Councillors, Chief Executives and Senior Managers within an interest in local government are attending the Local Government New Zealand annual conference in Wellington. ‘Elective Surgery – Changing the Face of Local Government’ runs between Monday 16 until Wednesday 18 July 2001.

Ends

For further information please contact:
Elizabeth Hughes
Strategy Leader - Communications and Information
Cell: 025 240 6789

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