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PCE's sustainable development report

5 August - Wellington

PCE's sustainable development report: Government should release its own sustainable development draft strategy

Forest and Bird today urged the Government to release its own draft sustainable development strategy.

Forest and Bird's call came in response to the substantial report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's (PCE) on the need for a sustainable development strategy in New Zealand..

"Eric Pyle, Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager said We understand that the Government has developed a draft strategy which was all ready for release on 17 June.

"The Government should release this draft strategy now, in the lead up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio + 10) conference in South Africa later this month, so that New Zealand's performance can be assessed."

"Sustainable development is common sense," says Mr Pyle. "New Zealand's prosperity is reliant on its clean green image and its environmental resource base. It is in our interest to look after our environment well and develop in a sustainable way."

The PCE report notes that after an exceptionally quick start in the 1980s on implementing a sustainable development agenda, New Zealand is now a laggard. "This report confirms Forest and Bird's view that we need to make more progress on environmental issues. For example, water quality in New Zealand's streams and rivers has got worse during the 1990s."

The PCE's report stated that the Government's priority on economic growth "has the potential to accelerate us towards unsustainability if it simply means escalating energy consumption, waste and pollution problems". The Government should reflect on this and the point that a clear "challenge of sustainable development is maintaining and enhancing the quality of life that may or may not necessitate economic growth in its traditional sense, ie an endless expansion of the economy".

"The problem is GDP tells us little about our overall wellbeing", says Mr Pyle. "What's the point in having the highest GDP if New Zealanders can't safely swim in rivers or breath the air without coughing."

"More than any other country in the world, New Zealand has a major opportunity to show some international leadership on sustainable development", says Mr Pyle. "Our international credibility will continue to fall if we don't finalise a robust sustainable development strategy.

Barry Weeber Senior Researcher Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society PO Box 631 Wellington New Zealand Phone 64-4-385-7374 Fax 64-4-385-7373 www.forest-bird.org.nz

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