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Council backs MfE's "gentle footprints" book

26 May 2006

Business Council backs MfE's "gentle footprints" book: attackers misread majority of New Zealanders

Attacks on a Ministry for the Environment publication, aimed at helping New Zealanders engage in debate about major environmental issues, are misplaced.

The MfE should do more – not less – to communicate with New Zealanders in the way its latest $125,000 "Gentle Footprints: Boots 'N' All" publication does, according to the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Criticising the publication, just on the basis that there is still a lot of other work to do, to flies in the face of extensive nationwide Business Council research showing the "middle majority" of New Zealanders want to know what's happening and how they can help.

"People want information they can understand. They don't want to be talked down to. Our focus group and nationwide polling research show 76% of New Zealanders want their quality of life preserved – and they need information on what's happening and how they can help, starting in their own neighbourhoods," Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says.

"We need more 'Gentle Footprints' initiatives, not fewer. If the Ministry wants to spark conversations about how we're going to manage the environment here by putting out books in easy-to-understand language, there's a huge silent majority who will applaud that.

"We know there are major issues facing us, from waste mountains to rising green house gas emissions which are having an impact on our health, climate, neighbourhoods and businesses. Not a single business or household is unaffected by these. We should be able to learn about them without people going 'boots and all' at the messengers. It's the only way we'll have much-needed needed informed debate. Middle majority New Zealanders want to take part in the discussion – and the solutions," Mr Neilson says.

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The Business Council believes sustainable businesses are profitable, contribute to social progress and ecological balance – and protect New Zealand's quality of life. The Council's 51 members jointly employ 55,000 people engaged in managing resources, manufacturing, retailing and the service sector. Members contribute annual sales of $33 billion to the economy, equivalent to 28% of GDP.

ENDS

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