Clean green image under threat: academic

New Zealand's reputation as a clean green beautiful country is in danger of being exposed as a fraud, a university lecturer says.

Kiwis are better at saving wild nature than they are at sustainable management and living in environmentally responsible ways, according to University of Canterbury (UC) law lecturer David Round.

Mr Round will be giving a public lecture at UC next Wednesday about taking sustainability more seriously.

"I would like to argue that New Zealand still has a rare opportunity to be sustainable and indeed just be able to survive in a world heading for general calamity," he said.

"But we have to start thinking very seriously about how we should live.

"We must not be spellbound by the rhetoric of left or right, environmentalists or developers. We need to ask some hard questions and answer them seriously."

The Resource Management Act was an improvement on previous legislation, Mr Round says, but added that it's been diluted and amended by all governments in the intervening years.

A sustainable society should have certain features such as decentralisation, closeness to land, a certain population size and agreement on certain values, he argues.

The purpose of sustainable management in the Act is "actually a gigantic platitude, which everyone can agree with because it is fundamentally meaningless".

"New Zealand's 100 Percent Pure reputation is only possible because we are a comparatively recently undiscovered country with a comparatively small population, but we are going down a well-worn path," Mr Round says.


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