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Rio+10 Programme Calls For Debate On Environment

Rio+10 Programme Calls For Debate On New Zealand’s Environment

The Minister for the Environment, Marian Hobbs, is calling for public debate and community feedback on New Zealand’s environmental problems and priorities.

She is launching today the Rio+ 10 Community Programme as part of the Government's preparations for next year’s World Summit on Sustainable Development – 10 years on from the first 'Earth Summit' held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Public response to the Rio+10 programme will be incorporated into the environmental chapters of an international report New Zealand is preparing for the Summit.

Marian Hobbs says a recent Massey University survey showed almost half (42 percent) believed that New Zealand's clean, green image was a myth.

"This is disturbing," Marian Hobbs said. "As a country, we rely on being clean and green for success – not just in business and tourism, but for our quality of life. If we are to achieve this, we need people to have their say when decisions about the environment are being made."

The study also showed that a vast majority of New Zealanders (90 percent) value clean air, lakes and rivers, and unpolluted water in harbours and at our beaches.

"New Zealanders clearly do care about our environment and are concerned about the threats from pollution," Marian Hobbs added. "The Rio+10 community programme will prompt us to think about the quality of environment we want and how we should get there.

"I believe there is a real need to increase New Zealanders' understanding of environmental issues. Solving our major environmental challenges does not rest simply with central and local government and high-powered science, but with all of us.

"My vision for our environment involves people who treasure New Zealand's uniqueness; people who care about the health of our environment and for whom caring means more than words. This programme will help lift understanding of what our environmental challenges are, and what is needed to overcome them."

Marian Hobbs said people and organisations can get involved by requesting a "starter pack" from the Ministry for the Environment and filling in a response form, or by going along to one of a series of debates being run in main centres over the next two months.

The debates – "Our environment…trash can or treasure?" – will see local celebrities arguing that locals 'treasure' the environment, while the national team will argue many use the local environment as a dump for waste and emissions. While the debates will be light hearted, they will carry a serious message.

Rio+10 response forms and a national calendar of community activities are available at: www.mfe.govt.nz/new/rio.htm – or by calling Ministry for the Environment offices.

Our environment – trash can or treasure?

The "Rio+ 10" debates

A series of six debates in main centres is planned as part of the Rio+10 programme of activities. The debates will pitch a “national” team against a local team to focus attention on how we treat our environment.

And a local environmental project will be the winner – the gold coin donation charged for entry to the debates will be donated to a local environmental project.

The debate topic, “Our environment – trash can or treasure?”, promises to produce some lively arguments. The national team will argue that many of us use our environment mainly as a place to dump our waste and emissions, while the local team will insist that people in their area treasure and look after the environment.

The teams will include someone from the Ministry, local government politicians, local young people and other “notables”. Keeping the teams in line and acting as MC for all debates will be Ruud Kleinpaste – the “Bugman” from the popular TV One show, Maggie’s Garden Show.

The debates will be held in:

Date and time City Venue

2 May at 7pm Christchurch The Great Hall at the Arts Centre

8 May at 7pm Wellington National Library Auditorium

9 May at 7pm Dunedin Fullwood Room, the Dunedin Centre

16 May at 7pm Invercargill North Room, Invercargill Workingmen’s Club (in conjunction with Environment Southland Awards)

30 May at 7pm Hamilton The Performing Arts Centre

13 June at 7pm Auckland To be confirmed

If you have family or friends in any of these centres, please encourage them to go along to the debates.

The debates are helping us to encourage public interest and involvement in the Rio+10 programme. Ministry staff will be on hand to distribute starter packs and response forms to those who attend.

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