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Cullen lays down sustainability challenge

Media release 29 November 2007

Cullen lays down sustainability challenge

Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen has challenged the primary sector to lead the way in making New Zealand the world’s first truly sustainable nation.

He laid down the challenge to the 350 participants in Primary Industries 2020, a Summit looking at the long-term strategic direction primary industries must take to succeed in an increasingly globalised world.

In his opening address at the Christchurch Convention Centre, Dr Cullen said New Zealand has been through several economic transformations, and its primary sector has emerged as one of the most efficient in the world.

The Government has declared its intention of making New Zealand the world’s first sustainable economy, he said, which would be another major transformation.

“There can be no question that primary industries must lead the way in that endeavour.”

Primary industries have already made huge advances in productivity, and if the rest of the economy had made similar advances, we would now be aiming to reach the top quarter of the OECD, not the top half, Mr Cullen said. But they needed to do even more.

“We have a real chance to be an example to the rest of the world … sustainability is no longer a choice for us, it’s a necessity.”

Increasing globalisation meant that, while New Zealand could implement the best economic planning and practices, we would feel the effects if any of our trading partners faltered. To ensure we prospered in such an environment, we have to ensure that our macroeconomic management was strong and that our sustainability credentials are impeccable.

“If we want people to continue to buy our products, if we want a steady increase in the number of tourists who come here … we can’t allow questions about our sustainability credentials to linger. Internationally, we must be seen to be pursuing sustainability in every way.

“The primary sector must lead on sustainability if our pursuit of sustainable economic transformation is to be anything other than rhetoric.”

Primary Industries 2020 is a groundbreaking Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry initiative, bringing together businesses and other stakeholders in New Zealand’s largest economic sector.

The two-day Summit is being headed by Jim Anderton, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and Biosecurity, and was also addressed on the first day by Minister for Climate Change, David Parker.


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