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The road to a greener, wealthier New Zealand

Written by New Zealand Management Magazine:

New Zealand urgently needs to improve its environmental record to protect the clean, green image that benefits the sale of much of what we produce and export, a recent report from business lobby group Pure Advantage argues.

The not-for-profit organisation, which has some of New Zealand’s most prominent business leaders as it trustees and is developing a green growth strategy for New Zealand, has released a report entitled “New Zealand’s Position in the Green Race”. It details how New Zealand is currently lagging behind the rest of the world and how industry can encourage green economic growth to ensure a greener, wealthier future for all New Zealanders.

The report indicates that while New Zealand’s international branding relies heavily on portraying our environment and economy as 100% pure, we’re failing our own branding tests across a range of key international metrics.

• New Zealand has slipped from 1st to 14th on the Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index.
• Our water quality induces 18,000-34,000 cases of water-borne disease each year.
• Our per capita carbon emissions are the fifth worst in the OECD.
• We have a falling share of our energy mix coming from renewable energy.
• We have a housing stock that’s among the most cold and inefficient in the OECD.
• New Zealand’s native biodiversity is coming under increasing strain as 77% of New Zealand’s threatened species look set to decline.

The report says to make matters worse, all of this is happening as we continue to slide down the OECD economic performance tables and our quality of life is diminishing. The report argues that to boost both our economy and our environment we need to utilise green growth and offers a broad based look at where New Zealand’s strengths may lie in this area.

Sir Stephen Tindall, a Pure Advantage Trustee, says this report is designed to be a conversation starter about the potential opportunities for New Zealand in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the broader green economy as a path to providing improved economic performance, better paying jobs, the protection of our environment and better health outcomes for New Zealand.

“Pure Advantage recognises that prioritising green growth in New Zealand’s economic strategy and direction is going to require robust analysis, coupled with strong leadership,” Tindall says. “While acknowledging that government and the private sector need to work together, the first step must be taken by industry.”

He says Pure Advantage is working with corporate leaders who are willing to take a role in shaping New Zealand’s green growth future and aims to engage corporates, industry groups, academics, iwi and the government, by positioning the discussion towards the huge opportunities offered by the emergence of a green growth economy.

Tindall says that global green growth is potentially worth NZ$6 trillion a year and represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for New Zealand to improve its economy for the better.

“New Zealand’s Position in the Green Race” is the first key piece of research that Pure Advantage, whose trustees also include Rob Fyfe, Joan Withers, Jeremy Moon, Geoff Ross, Sir George Fistonich, Phillip Mills and Chris Liddell, has released. It  is a precursor to a macroeconomic review that Pure Advantage has commissioned, the first of its kind in New Zealand, to identify New Zealand’s key high value green growth opportunities.

The review has been undertaken by internationally respected economists Vivid Economics in conjunction with the University of Auckland Business School and is due to be released in the third quarter of 2012.

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