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Findings of the Rio+10 community consultation

4 October 2001 Media Statement

Findings of the Rio+10 community consultation

New Zealand has not made a strong-enough commitment to the environment over the past 10 years according to findings from the Rio+10 community consultation released today by Environment Minister, Marian Hobbs.

The Rio+10 programme, which ran from early May to late July 2001, gathered feedback from more than 3600 New Zealand on progress with environmental issues and priorities for the future.

"More than three-quarters of the 3,588 people who sent back Rio+10 response forms said that our environment is not as healthy as it should be. One-fifth of
them think that it needs intensive care," Marian Hobbs said.

"Water is clearly the primary environmental concern for New Zealanders. Healthy streams, lakes and rivers headed the list of priorities for action, and clean beaches and coastal water ranked third.

"Around half of the thousands who filled in our forms saw progress in cleaning up our waterways as unsatisfactory.

"Pollution of our rivers, lakes and beaches has featured as the top environmental concern in many surveys of New Zealanders’ opinions over the past five years, so there is a clear message here for central and local government and the farming community."

The Minister said that clean air and reducing waste were other issues rated as high priorities in the Rio+10 responses.

"Apart from response forms, we also received 80 letters and submissions. The most common comment was that New Zealand’s clean, green image is not matched by the reality. This matches my own view that our environmental reality is 'somewhat clean, still green around the edges'," she said.

"While people recognised that New Zealand is still relatively clean compared with other countries, this was clearly seen as more good luck than good management. I am quite sure that most New Zealanders want to live in a clean and healthy environment and I want to see our clean green image become a reality.

"We need now to turn New Zealanders’ concern into action. The old Kiwi 'she’ll be right' attitude or leaving it all to 'somebody else' won’t get us where we want to be. We all have to do something about it."

The Rio+10 community programme is part of New Zealand's preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 2002. The World Summit marks 10 years since the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

"In preparation for the Summit, New Zealand and other countries are compiling reports on their progress with sustainable development. Of course, sustainable development encompasses economic and social matters as well as environment, but I set up the Rio+10 programme because I was keen to have the views of ordinary New Zealanders included in the environmental chapters of this report," the Minister said.

"Since we began the Rio+10 programme, the Government has decided to develop a sustainable development strategy. We will soon be releasing the draft goals and principles of this strategy for public comment. We are planning to have the strategy ready by the time of the World Summit next year."


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