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EDS releases major report on resource management reform

Press Release – Environmental Defence Society

EDS has released its report on phase 1 of its resource management reform project. The project takes a first-principles look at how New Zealands resource management system could be improved.EDS releases major report on resource management reform

Embargoed until 5pm Tuesday 12 February

EDS has released its report on phase 1 of its resource management reform project. The project takes a first-principles look at how New Zealand’s resource management system could be improved.

The 340 page synthesis report is the culmination of 18 months of research, thinking and engagement. It breaks the system down into themes rather than more traditional approaches targeting domains (eg water, air), spaces (eg urban, rural) or sectors (eg energy, agriculture).

The report examines key fundamental questions:
* What do we have a resource management system for?
* How do we see ourselves in relation to our natural and physical surroundings?
* What roles should the system play in pursuing society’s aims?
* What will the future require from our resource management system?

The report then moves on to examine how we design and arrange our legislation, institutions and opportunities for public involvement. It examines tools like regulations, plans, economic instruments and behavioural incentives. Throughout, Māori issues and perspectives are integrated into the discussion. It looks at the whole system, not just the RMA.

The approach builds the foundations for resource management reform in a systematic and principled way instead of just rushing to an outcome without careful thought.

“Very rarely do we see the kind of appetite for first principles reform and blue-skies thinking that we have now,” said EDS Senior Researcher Dr Greg Severinsen.

“We have cross-party interest in change and a recognition that the present system is not delivering adequately for town or country. Previous work by EDS and Ministry for the Environment has established that many environmental indicators are showing decline. Housing availability is a pressing social challenge in our cities,” said Dr Severinsen.

EDS’s Policy Director and co-author of the report, Raewyn Peart, says reform is clearly needed.

“But we have deliberately stopped short of rushing to a single preferred model in the synthesis report. We want to encourage people to use our report and think carefully about options rather than jump prematurely to a particular solution. That’s been part of the problem – too many ad hoc changes that have produced muddled and incoherent legislation.

“That said, the next and final phase of EDS’s work, which has just commenced, will build on the analysis and options in the synthesis report and select and flesh out what a preferred model should look like. We will also chart a practical pathway for reform for Parliamentarians and the public to consider. That work will be the subject of the final report due end 2019,” said Ms Peart.

The phase 1 project has been supported by the New Zealand Law Foundation, the Employers & Manufacturers Association, Property Council New Zealand, and Infrastructure New Zealand. They are continuing support for the phase 2 project with additional support coming from the Borrin Foundation. For more information on the project, and to download the synthesis report and working papers, see RM Reform Project.
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