New Zealand has the time, the resources and the people - all
it needs to do is make a start towards a green economy,
Emeritus Prof Gerry Carrington, of Dunedin, says.
The country should not be put off by the thought it was ''too
hard'', as it could achieve many economic, social and
environmental gains by accelerating its move toward a green
economy, Prof Carrington, a Royal Society of New Zealand
''It'll make the country better off but we've got to start
doing something about it now.''
He was commenting on the release yesterday of a society
paper, ''Facing the Future: Toward a Green Economy for New
Zealand'', written by a panel of eight that he chaired which
included Dr Janet Stephenson, director of the University of
Otago's Centre for Sustainability. Prof Carrington, founder
of the National Energy Research Institute, also sits on the
centre's advisory panel.
A green economy was defined by the United Nations Environment
Programme as one that was resource efficient, low carbon and
Looking at research on the resource and consumptive
challenges facing New Zealand and the rest of the world, such
as reduced water quality, loss of biodiversity and a changing
climate, the panel concluded the ''New Zealand situation was
not looking too bad'', Prof Carrington said.
''We've got our own problems but I feel we have lots of
options which is a very good starting point.''
There needed to be conversations between people who had the
power to make changes, whether it be at local or government
level, with those in business and in communities.
The key was finding a way to work together, even if different
sectors disagreed with each other. The collaborative process
had worked for the Land and Water Forum.
''It's a first step toward developing a vision - one we can
share across all divides.''
It could start out with interest groups in different sectors
tackling their issues, he said.
''Many businesses and organisations are already aiming for
sustainability. Communities are working together for change
and innovators and entrepreneurs are ready to grasp the
opportunities of a greener economy,'' Prof Carrington said.
There were barriers to overcome, such as the perception of
there being a trade-off between being economically
competitive and being sustainable and that a green economy
might lead to a lower standard of living.
Other panel members were Prof Geoff Austin, Dr Sea Rotmann,
Prof Ralph Sims, Prof John Boys, Prof Les Oxley and Dame Anne
The report: a snapshot
• Advantage to New Zealand to make transition to green
economy; well positioned to start building on its
• New Zealand has strong competitive advantage in renewable
energy systems, and opportunities to grow low-carbon
technologies and services.
• Several New Zealand organisations undertaking initiatives
that increase efficiency of resource use.
• Initiatives that support social inclusiveness, such as the
land and water forum, show resilient and sustainable
solutions and are more likely to be generated by processes
that incorporate government, communities, businesses and
• There is a need to engage public and businesses in creating
a vision for a resilient and prosperous future.
• New Zealand should establish strong research collaborations
to support green innovation.
• Long-term investments are needed in innovation, trialling
new approaches and supporting collaborations in areas such as
land use, energy supply and efficiency, transport and
• Path to green economy requires well-informed and stable
policy environment, especially for issues at the interface
between economic development and environmental protection.