The Ministry’s focus for 2008 – 2011 is on eight priority areas that contribute to our end outcomes: environmental sustainability in key sectors, climate change, fresh water, oceans, waste minimisation, urban design and development, environmental reporting, and environmental governance.

Environmental outcomes such as maintaining and improving water quality or good quality urban design can take decades to achieve. The Ministry for the Environment is not directly responsible for managing aspects of the environment such as waterways or urban areas. Because environmental management is a shared responsibility, many sectors and organisations will contribute to achieving the end outcomes.

The Ministry, therefore, seeks to influence the key sectors, decision-makers and individuals whose actions will determine the end outcomes by providing:

  • Appropriate statutory frameworks: legislation and regulations such as national environmental standards that establish the rules and expectations

  • National direction: including national policy statements and strategies such as the New Zealand Waste Strategy that set out the Government’s priorities and establish a common basis for action

  • Sufficient training: increasing the capability of stakeholders to deliver environmental outcomes. Examples include the Making Good Decisions Programme and the Govt3 programme

  • Sufficient information: knowing about the issues and what to do is an prerequisite for adapting behaviour and practices. Examples include state of the environment reports and best practice guidance

  • Sufficient awareness: change will not happen unless people are aware that there is a problem. Examples where raising awareness is important to our work include the climate change and sustainable households programmes.

For these to make an effective contribution to the end outcomes, the Ministry needs to understand the degree and nature of the behavioural shifts required and the Ministry actions that will have the biggest impact.

Measurement of progress towards achieving environmental outcomes is complex because of the length of time it takes to see changes and the many players involved. To assess its contribution the Ministry must evaluate its ability to change practices or influence the investments by government agencies, farms, businesses or households.

The section below outlines the eight priority areas in the Ministry’s work programme for the next three years, the related outcomes and major activities aimed at achieving the outcomes.