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Monitoring Progress Towards a Sustainable New Zealand (2002)

The 2002 experimental publication Monitoring Progress towards a Sustainable New Zealand provides a selection of information related to sustainable development in New Zealand. The report was a first attempt to bring the information together, and was the forerunner to Measuring New Zealand's Progress Using a Sustainable Development Approach: 2008.

Foreword

Sustainable development is defined in this report as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1997). Indicators that enable us to gain insights into our progress towards sustainable development need to be more than economic, social or environmental performance indicators. They should help us to understand and explain long-term effects and interlinkages. So far we have, at best, only partly met this challenge.

The information contained in this report provides some insights into whether we are meeting current needs and how our actions both past and present may be impacting on the stock of resources that will be available for the future.

Meeting the needs of the future depends in part on the size of our population and how people choose to live. This report includes population projections for New Zealand to 2051, but does not comment on whether we can meet our future needs. Rather it aims to provide some information that may help inform choices that will enable further progress towards sustainable development.

A summary report of this nature cannot cover all facets of sustainable development and a satisfactory range of data is not available in many areas. This report also presents information about issues that can be complex and the selection of indicators represents a first step. For all these reasons, the report is experimental.

Further development requires input from different groups and individuals with an interest or expertise in sustainable development. This work may also be assisted by a developing international consensus on what sustainable development means in practice and how progress should be measured.

Different interpretations of the data and indicators presented in this report are inevitable. How the information is interpreted will depend on the background of the readers, the relative importance they place on each of the economic, environmental and social/cultural dimensions, and the timescale over which effects are considered. In addition, the indicators have been selected by the Sustainable Development Indicators Working Group, and although the group used a consistent set of selection criteria, they may still have reflected particular viewpoints and knowledge.

The report should be of use to all people who have an interest in sustainable development: citizens and businesses, as well as government and non-government agencies. It complements existing economic, social and environmental statistics and indicators by analysing the information from the perspective of the long-term interrelationship between economic development, quality of life and the environment. Wherever possible, references and links are included for those readers who need further information.

Comments on the report, the indicators chosen and possible further development priorities are contained in the Review of the Monitoring Progress Towards a Sustainable New Zealand.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

Acknowledgements

The Sustainable Development Indicators Working Group, which compiled this report, included participants from:

  • Statistics New Zealand
  • Department of Internal Affairs
  • Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Ministry of Economic Development
  • Ministry for the Environment
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • The Treasury

The working group was led by Helen Stott, who has produced the final report. It would not have been possible without the input of Kirsty Johnston, Mark Sowden, Tony van der Lem, Amir Pirich, Ruth Wilkie, Kate Lang, Kathryn Talbut, Ken Fletcher, Vanessa Hooker, Anne Horsfield, Rachael Trotman, Leigh Gatt and the many people and organisations who provided ideas and review at various stages along the way. A number of organisations also provided data for this report. Statistics New Zealand wishes to record its thanks to all those concerned.

Liability statement

Statistics New Zealand gives no warranty that the information or data supplied contains no errors. However, all care and diligence has been used in processing, analysing and extracting the information. Statistics New Zealand shall not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by the customer consequent upon the use directly, or indirectly, of the information supplied in this product.

Reproduction of material

Any table or other material published in this report may be reproduced and published without further licence, provided that it does not purport to be published under government authority and that acknowledgement is made of this source.

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