A new report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is being backed by LGNZ, who agree that more resources and a clear national purpose for environmental reporting is needed.
The report, ‘Focusing Aotearoa New Zealand’s environmental reporting system’, examines the Environmental Reporting Act 2015 and outlines steps the Government needs to take to improve the system.
“The lack of coherent national reporting has been a bugbear for councils over the years,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.
“New Zealand’s fragmented national environmental data landscape has made it difficult to respond to problems before they escalate into crises. It’s also provided a breeding ground for misinformation. Out of frustration with these issues regional councils launched LAWA, to help improve our national environmental database.”
Councils have led Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA), which while initially a collaboration between New Zealand’s 16 regional councils and unitary authorities, now includes crown research institutes, universities and government departments.
Regional councils are a critical part of the environmental monitoring system and collectively spend over $40 million on data collection and reporting.
“We’ve got elements of a national system, but it is fragmented, and more central resource is needed to pull the pieces together in a coherent and interoperable fashion if we want to tackle the biggest environmental challenges around us.”
“Right now data is being cobbled together from a range of sources, with mixed methodologies, and that’s failing to deliver a clear national picture.”
The Commissioner makes a number of recommendations for amendments to the Environmental Reporting Act, including to add a clearer purpose, develop core environmental indicators, expansion of the reporting framework and the requirement of a formal response from Government on any reporting.
“We agree with the Commissioner that greater national investment is needed to improve our evidence-base. Regional councils know that boots on the ground work can drive environmental improvement, but we need to be focusing our work in the right areas, and better national reporting is needed to direct that.”
“We look forward to working with the Commissioner to achieve his recommendations, for the good of all New Zealanders.”