NEW ZEALAND: Green for Profit?

New Zealand’s popularity as a tourist destination relies on its natural beauty and flawless scenery. The Government has chosen to market itself to tourists on this basis, with a clean, green brand. However, according to the New Zealand Herald, the Government has not been supporting the green brand like it claims to, and has been refusing to deliver the environmental monitoring that it promised.

Through environmental monitoring, the Government was supposed to track the cleanliness of the water and air and publish those reports. A consolidated five-year State of the Environment Report should have been published in 2011, but the project has since been scrapped.

“The Government should invest in economic and environmental state and trend monitoring to give a credible evidence base to support New Zealand’s brand position,” a preliminary recommendation on the report stated.

This was added to “build credibility of [New Zealand’s] image” through transparent and independent reporting, including “being open about the environmental challenges”.

However, instead of being a pristine destination like tourism ads might suggest, the Herald reports, “more than half of monitored river sites were unsafe for swimming” and moreover, this information has been withheld from the public. Instead of adhering to the green brand, according to Eugenie Sage of Green MP in an interview with the New Zealand Tribune, “The National Government wants to use the clean, green brand but doesn’t care that the reality behind it is being eroded by its actions”.

By not conducting or publishing public environmental reports, New Zealand’s clean environment is more of an image than a reality.

This lack of monitoring from the Government has been covered in many media outlets. How will the government respond to the negative environmental publicity? For the sake of maintaining tourism rates, will we see a reform in environmental procedures?

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