The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Robert V. Percival, Jolene Lin and William Piermattei
Chapter 14: Sustainable management, a sustainable ethic?
New Zealand legislated for sustainability by enacting the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). The RMA received the Royal Assent on 22 July 1991 and came into force as law on 1 October 1991. It restated and reformed ‘the law relating to the use of land, air, and water’, and is the principal statute governing the New Zealand environment. Despite the rhetoric of sustainable management, environmental law and governance in New Zealand continue to grapple with persistent challenges in relation to protecting biodiversity on private land, maintaining freshwater quantity and quality, and recognizing Maori interests in resource management. New strategies are however emerging for promoting environmental justice and using the law to advance sustainability. This chapter will explore these aspects of the New Zealand experiment in legislating for sustainable management. The statutory purpose of the RMA is ‘to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources’. ‘Sustainable management’ is defined in section 5(2) of the RMA as:… managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing and for their health and safety while (a)sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and (b)safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and (c)avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.
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