Within the report, OAG recommended that the Ministry for the Environment:
- improve collaboration and co-ordination with other organisations to increase information sharing and ensure that freshwater clean-up projects are complementary and integrated;
- promotes greater public visibility and understanding of freshwater clean-up efforts and share lessons from freshwater clean-up projects nationally;
- prioritise current freshwater clean-up projects to develop national freshwater cultural monitoring indicators, including developing actions to improve waterways for swimming;
- implement processes that ensure the benefits of freshwater clean-up projects are maintained after funding ends;
- improve the contestable funding application process;
- consider implementing a fully compatible and automated data and fund management system to improve its capacity to use and analyse the data it collects and contribute to a providing a national freshwater picture; and
- improve the accuracy of reporting voluntary (in-kind) contributions alongside financial information, to recognise those contributions and improve the national picture of their importance to freshwater clean-up efforts.
The Ministry for the Environment has made significant improvements to our funding processes as a result of the audit report, this ensures the way we manage freshwater funding is focused on improving freshwater across Aotearoa and aligns with our wider work programme.
Two major initiatives announced in 2020 have shaped the funding landscape since the report was released. The Essential Freshwater reforms – a package of freshwater policies, and the $1.219 billion Jobs for Nature programme - an environmentally focused COVID-19 recovery package.
The Jobs for Nature funding alongside the Freshwater reform package has allowed the Ministry to transition from an agency that has traditionally managed small amounts of freshwater funding to being the lead agency driving an accelerated, co-ordinated, all-of-government approach to address freshwater challenges, supported by a significantly larger amount of Crown investment.
The full response from the Ministry of the Environment on how we have acted in response to recommendations made by OAG is available on the OAG website.