OECD Environmental Performance Reviews

1990-0090 (online)
1990-0104 (print)
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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews provide independent assessments of countries’ progress in achieving domestic and international environmental policy commitments and goals, together with policy-relevant recommendations.  They address the management of air, water, waste, biodiversity, and land; they examine the relationship between economic and social policy and the environment; and they describe the subject country’s international co-operation in such areas as climate change, marine pollution and development co-operation.  Each report includes a broad range of economic and environmental statistical data. On average, five or six countries are reviewed each year.

Also available in French, German, Spanish, Italian
OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: New Zealand 2017

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20 Mar 2017
9789264268203 (PDF) ; 9789264268296 (EPUB) ;9789264268029(print)

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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews provide independent assessments of countries’ progress towards their environmental policy objectives. Reviews promote peer learning, enhance government accountability, and provide targeted recommendations aimed at improving environmental performance, individually and collectively. They are supported by a broad range of economic and environmental data, and evidence-based analysis. Each cycle of Environmental Performance Reviews covers all OECD countries and selected partner economies. The most recent reviews include Chile and France (2016).

This report is the third Environmental Performance Review of New Zealand. It evaluates progress towards sustainable development and green growth, with a focus on water resources management and sustainable urban development.

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  • Preface

    People of New Zealand enjoy a very good environmental quality of life, with low air pollution and easy access to nature. The natural environment is a key economic asset. The country’s land, freshwater and seas provide the basis for internationally competitive agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors. Despite its remoteness, millions of tourists visit the country every year, attracted by its pristine wilderness and spectacular landscapes.

  • Foreword

    This report reviews New Zealand’s environmental performance since the second review in 2007. Progress in achieving domestic objectives and international commitments provides the basis for assessing the country’s environmental performance. Such objectives and commitments may be broad aims, qualitative goals or quantitative targets. A distinction is made between intentions, actions and results. Assessment of environmental performance is also placed within the context of New Zealand’s historical environmental record, present state of the environment, physical endowment in natural resources, economic conditions and demographic trends.

  • Reader's guide
  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Basic statistics of New Zealand (2015 or latest available year)
  • Executive summary

    New Zealand is one of the most dynamic economies in the OECD and has built an international reputation as a “green” country. It fares well in terms of environmental quality of life; the country’s population enjoy easy access to pristine wilderness and good air quality. However, New Zealand’s growth model, largely based on exporting primary products, has started to show its environmental limits, with increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, diffuse freshwater pollution and threats to biodiversity.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    The Assessment and recommendations present the main findings of the Environmental Performance Review of New Zealand and identify 50 recommendations to help New Zealand make further progress towards its environmental policy objectives and international commitments. The OECD Working Party on Environmental Performance reviewed and approved the Assessment and recommendations at its meeting on 9 November 2016. Actions taken to implement selected recommendations from the 2007 OECD Environmental Performance Review are summarised in the Annex.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Progress towards sustainable development

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    • Environmental performance: Trends and recent developments

      New Zealand’s population enjoys a high environmental quality of life, although strong economic growth has intensified energy and resource use and exerted increasing environmental pressures. This chapter examines the country’s progress in decoupling economic activity from environmental pressures, focusing on the period since 2000. It presents the key socio-economic developments and reviews New Zealand’s progress in moving towards i) an energy-efficient and low-carbon economy; ii) resource efficiency in material consumption waste management; iii) sustainable management of the natural asset base; and iv) a high environmental quality of life for its citizens.

    • Environmental governance and management

      New Zealand has significantly strengthened stakeholder collaboration in environmental management and established nationwide environmental requirements in several key areas. However, insufficient human and technical capacity of local authorities, along with remaining regulatory gaps, generate implementation challenges. This chapter analyses New Zealand’s environmental governance system, including horizontal and vertical co-ordination mechanisms. It reviews the regulatory framework for environmental impact assessment and permitting, as well as measures to ensure compliance with environmental law. The chapter also assesses progress in promoting public participation in decision making and access to environmental information, education and justice.

    • Towards green growth

      New Zealand experienced strong economic growth for most of 2000-15. The Business Growth Agenda aims to continue improving the productivity and environmental performance of the natural resource-based sectors to support the country’s growth. This chapter reviews New Zealand’s efforts to promote green growth and sustainable development at the domestic and global levels. It analyses progress in using economic and tax policies to pursue environmental objectives and in reforming potentially harmful incentives. The chapter also discusses policies to promote low carbon energy and transport infrastructure and services, and reviews the country’s eco-innovation performance.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Progress towards selected environmental objectives

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    • Water resources management

      New Zealand’s freshwater resources are vital to the primary sector and tourism, as well as to the country’s culture. The government has recently begun reforming national freshwater policy in response to increasing pressure on freshwater resources. This chapter reviews New Zealand’s progress towards sustainable freshwater resources management. It examines the state and trends of water quality and quantity, and assesses the performance of institutional governance and policy. Finally, it provides recommendations to improve the environmental effectiveness and economic efficiency of the nation’s freshwater policies. Urban water management is discussed in : Sustainable Urban Development.

    • Sustainable urban development

      This chapter discusses the economic and environmental conditions of New Zealand’s urban areas, with a particular focus on Auckland. It examines the main challenges of cities to advance sustainable urban development, and reviews the main policies and measures in place to address them. This includes urban policies for land use, sustainable transport and buildings, and waste and water management, as well as the role of multi-level governance, investment and finance.

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