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OECD Report on New Zealand Environment a ‘Wake Up Call’

The Government is being urged to heed the just-released OECD report on New Zealand’s environmental performance, with Fish & Game saying the report is a timely wake up call.

In its report, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) warns that New Zealand’s economic growth model is reaching its environmental limits.

Among the concerns it highlights are the declining quality of New Zealand’s freshwater, the impact of irrigation and declining biodiversity.

The OECD report is produced every ten years and Fish & Game New Zealand chief executive Bryce Johnson says the latest analysis makes for sobering reading.

“This report starkly portrays what is happening to New Zealand.

“Much of it will be of no surprise to New Zealanders who are becoming increasingly concerned at the state of their environment and the government needs to listen and act by unequivocally putting the environment first,” Mr Johnson says.

Bryce Johnson supports the OECD’s recommendation that the government review its support for irrigation, something he says is well overdue.

“At the moment, the government is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into irrigation as a subsidy for intensive farming and ignoring the impact this is having on the environment and fish, including native species.

“The present situation is becoming unsustainable, with examples of where irrigators are allowed to take more water from some rivers than actually exists in them“, Mr Johnson says.

Bryce Johnson says the OECD report highlights the lack of forward thinking and failure to plan strategically for the country’s longer term future.

“New Zealanders – especially young New Zealanders - are not being given the chance to consider what sort of future country and society they want and plan to achieve their dream.

“Unfortunately, formally structured, national, transparent, long term futures thinking and planning is simply not happening, and the country is suffering as a result,” ’Mr Johnson says.

He says it is time the government confronted this failure by turning its back on short term expediency and establishing a Parliamentary Commission for Future Generations.

“What is needed is a body to provide clear, politically independent advice to the government on preparing for the future – something that is becoming increasingly essential if we are to protect New Zealand’s future competitiveness in the global market-place.”

Mr Johnson says there a clear benefits having such a commission.

“For a country so reliant on its soils, fresh water and natural landscapes, we urgently need a body formally responsible for identifying and publishing options for our path to the future.

“Our economy is heavily dependent on its land and water yet we are treating the environment woefully.

“Future generations will not thank us when they inherit the consequences of this critical failure to properly plan for them, rather than focussing on making a quick buck now,” Mr Johnson says.

“We must start planning to abandon the present failed economic strategy based on degrading our natural resources and expanding visitor numbers to the point where over-crowding is displacing Kiwis in their own outdoors.

“This would fit well with the findings and recommendations of this latest OECD report and position New Zealand well for its next report.”

ENDS

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