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Published: 2001-05-23 00:00:00

Local government in New Zealand will be promoting sustainable development and examining how it can contribute, according to Environment Waikato chairman Neil Clarke.

A recently released report on sustainable development in New Zealand has found the country is lagging behind others in achieving sustainable development.

Mr Clarke said the message had gone to all government ministries that they must make sustainable development a part of their performance commitments for the future.

The findings of the report were presented to Environment Waikato’s Environment Committee last week by Margaret Evans and Doug Gartner representing the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives. The working group was headed by Environment Waikato Chief Executive Barry Harris and Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Morgan Williams.

The report showed that despite its clean, green image, New Zealand’s environmental record was not impressive, with increasing energy consumption especially in transport, and one of the world’s worst records in species loss.

While health and education statistics were improving, the country’s performance was average at best with concern about suicide rates, infant mortality and disparity between Maori and non-Maori. The country had a poor record in research and development, with questions being raised about its readiness for the knowledge and new technology based economy.

“It has concerned me at times that some of the things we have been doing haven’t had enough regard to social and economic consequences of our policies. There has to be some trade off in the future, but these things have not been identified yet,” Mr Clarke said.

The report suggests encouraging leadership at a political level, establishing a small unit within government to focus on sustainable development, creating and independent commission and establishing a cross sectional organisation for debate, information sharing and networking.

Doug Gartner asked the Council to actively support the report’s conclusions and lead Regional Councils in making change.

The Committee recommended supporting initiatives for sustainable development.