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Mayor to lead charge on sustainable future



3 May 2006

Mayor to lead charge on sustainable future for city

The Mayor of Auckland city, Dick Hubbard, says we are lagging behind the rest of the world in our efforts to create a sustainable city for the future and wants to set up a powerful group to spearhead change in the city.

At a committee meeting today, Mr Hubbard said after attending an international conference on sustainability in South Africa, where he was a guest speaker, he became acutely aware of the urgent need to sharpen Auckland City’s focus on this issue and start taking action.

“The conference was a huge wake up call for me because we are at such a crucial stage right now,” Mr Hubbard said. “We need to take urgent action on such issues as how we deal with our natural resources, being more energy and water efficient, reducing our reliance on oil and increased recycling of waste.

“We cannot pay lip service to the word ‘sustainability’ any more. It is not about short-term political opportunism. It is about long-term thinking and gains for our city. We are no longer talking about ‘trade-offs’, we are talking about ‘win-wins’.”

He proposes setting up a Mayoral Taskforce on Sustainable Development. The group will be set up during next fortnight and will include businesspeople from the private sector and experts from other cities, along with environmental and technology experts.

He said Sweden already has ambitious targets in place for the use of non fossil fuels so that it will be independent of oil by 2020. Iceland too is aiming for a 100 per cent hydrogen economy.

“Our Australian counterparts have significant water management programmes in place saving residents hundreds of dollars every year,“ said Mr Hubbard, “In Brisbane, water recycling in industrial sites saved 18,000 mega litres of water over the past couple of years.

“If we become more sustainable as a city, our businesses and our people will personally benefit through cost savings (reduced power and water bills), through health cost savings (for example, asthma treatment) and through better care of our natural environment.

“I want bold recommendations from this team, just as I asked from my Taskforce on Urban Design (which I launched last year) set up to drive changes to create a more attractive city that also works well.

“The aim of this Taskforce will be to ensure that Auckland City Council and the city are taking practical steps towards sustainability. For example, we can deliver through our budgets and through ‘walking the talk’ ourselves in terms of sustainability. Auckland City Council must lead by example.

“There are many small steps we can take as an organisation to save money on water, power and waste management,” he said.

One outcome of this group might be beefing up the retrofitting of the council’s own buildings with energy and water efficient devices. Waitakere City Council saved $520,000 in energy costs in the first five years of a similar programme with savings increasing every year.

“We’re talking about sensible sustainability,” he said, “Things we can do at a very low cost that will make a big difference.”

Mr Hubbard said he would be putting together a proposal to proceed with the Taskforce within a fortnight.


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