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Measuring New Zealand’s Progress Using a Sustainable Development Approach: 2008 presents an overarching view of New Zealand’s environmental, economic, and social progress and whether that progress was consistent with sustainable development. The selected indicators provide information about whether we are meeting our current needs, how our resources are distributed, how efficiently we are using our resources, and what impact our actions may have on the stock of resources that will be available in the future.

The data in Measuring New Zealand’s Progress Using a Sustainable Development Approach: 2008 now becomes part of official statistics, which are an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society. They provide the government, researchers, business, and the public with data to inform policy, research, and debate.

The report focuses on long-term changes, and looks at the interdependencies between the environment, economy, and society within an integrated and conceptually robust framework.

Internationally, the measurement of sustainable development is a well-established, although developing, area of official statistics. In 2002, Statistics New Zealand produced an experimental set of sustainable development indicators in Monitoring Progress Towards a Sustainable New Zealand. In 2006, Statistics NZ was invited to participate in an international working group convened by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations Economic Committee for Europe (UNECE), and Eurostat (part of the European Commission) to work on statistics for sustainable development. The aim was to ensure greater consistency in measurement and international comparability, with the ‘capital approach’ as its starting point.

This report builds on the experience of our 2002 report and the outcomes from the international working group. The group endorsed the capital approach as a basis for measuring sustainable development, which Statistics NZ has used to underpin its measurement framework, as published in our 2009 report Statistics New Zealand’s Framework for Measuring Sustainable Development. The framework uses the approach developed by the Swiss Federal Statistics Office, but adapted for the New Zealand context.

Statistics NZ would like to thank the members of the advisory group, which included representatives from central and local government, business and non-governmental organisations; members of the public who attended the public workshops; and the many other organisations and individuals who provided technical assistance. We would also like to acknowledge the support and assistance of the sustainable development team at the Swiss Federal Statistical Office.

Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician

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