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WWF message to next government

23 August 2005

WWF message to next government: urgent environmental action needed

WWF-New Zealand, part of the global conservation network, today called on all political parties to commit to urgent action for the environment, education and overseas development, should they be part of the next government.

“New Zealand’s environment is at a turning point,” says Jo Breese, Chief Executive of WWF-New Zealand.

“Less than 1% of our oceans are protected, despite 95% of New Zealanderssupporting greater protection. There are no climate change adaptation strategies and no action plan for our rarest marine mammal – Hector’s dolphin. Schools are not required to teach environmental and sustainability education. There is no oceans management framework and no adequate marine reserves bill. It is critical that the next government acts, and acts quickly.”

In its election briefing WWF – active in New Zealand for 30 years – calls on political parties to make specific commitments on a range of key issues. It provides key supporting documents including its recent opinion poll that shows 95% of New Zealanders want more marine reserves, and its recent report, launched by the Minister of Fisheries in February this year, which identifies critical areas for biodiversity in the marine environment.

Chris Howe, Conservation Director with WWF-New Zealand, adds: “New Zealand is rapidly falling behind international standards in these areas and its reputation for environmental excellence is diminishing. This will have negative consequences not only for our environment but also our people – all New Zealanders – who depend on it for their livelihoods.”

In addition to key domestic environmental issues, WWF-New Zealand has an active programme working with partners in developing countries, particularly the Pacific, to help secure financial support for them from New Zealand’s official development assistance. WWF-New Zealand is therefore extremely concerned that New Zealand’s official development assistance remains at around 0.28% of Gross National Income, and the government has not set a timetable for achieving its commitment to the OECD target of 0.7%.

Background material

The key issues raised in WWF’s election briefing are:

Establish a marine reserves bill and make a commitment to protect key areas for wildlife in New Zealand’s marine environment

Establish an Oceans Policy framework to ensure coherent management of New Zealand’s marine environment

- Increase research funding for New Zealand’s marine environment, and ensure that a core of uncontested funds is available for critical marine research

- Establish a climate change adaptation strategy for New Zealand’s marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems

- Develop and implement an action plan to ensure Hector’s dolphin recovers from the current 7,000 individuals to around 20,000 individuals (1970 levels) by 2055

- Take action to protect sharks in New Zealand waters and comply with international agreements on sharks

- Improve requirements to prevent seabird deaths while fishing

- Protect New Zealand’s seafloor environment from damage by trawling

- Take action to protect high seas biodiversity including the establishment of high seas marine protected areas, especially in Antarctica

- Increase financial support to Enviroschools and the national environmental education professional development programme

- Incorporate education for sustainable development into the New Zealand schools curriculum

- Sustain funding levels for community-based conservation initiatives

- Establish an environment policy for New Zealand’s official development assistance

- Commit to a timetable for achieving the OECD target of 0.7% GNI allocated as official development assistance

- Reduce New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions and commit to being part of the second Kyoto commitment period agreement.

2 The Minister of Fisheries launched the report Shining a Spotlight on the biodiversity of the New Zealand marine ecoregion in February 2005, which shows that around 50% of New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone is critical for marine biodiversity. It can be obtained at http://www.wwf.org.nz/conservation/ShiningSpotlight.cfm

3 WWF’s Colmar Brunton poll of 1001 New Zealanders took place from 10 to 21 February 2005, and has a maximum error margin of +/- 3.1%. Less than 1% of New Zealand's exclusive economic zone is currently protected by marine reserves. This equals about 7.3% of the territorial sea which covers the area out to 12 nautical miles.

In the Colmar Brunton poll, marine reserves were defined as allowing activities such as research, swimming, diving, and boating, while not allowing activities such as oil drilling, mining, commercial fishing, recreational fishing or collecting

ENDS


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