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Kites that will truly fly

Helping Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) bring together a first principles review of the country’s resource management system in late 2015 demanded both open-ended inquiry and thoughtful pragmatics.

This engaging assignment with direct relevance to current debate involved generating blue skies thinking with a group of experts chosen by LGNZ, while ensuring the proposals that emerged were workable options. 

As project lead Andrew Schollum says “we flew some kites to start with, then worked closely with the client to make sure those high-flying ideas could really serve”.

The MartinJenkins team used feedback from the cross-sector group of experts and practitioners to refine initial concepts to develop a stepped approach to reform. The key, Andrew says, was to set up an effective framework for the exploratory thinking that avoided lurching to solutions in the absence of good data on system performance.

The thinkpiece looks at emerging trends at home and abroad, the kind of environment New Zealanders want to live in and the characteristics of a fit-for-purpose resource management system that can make ends meet. It proposes a three-step process for reform: continued improvement; a legislative over-write; and revisiting some fundamentals.

LGNZ released the discussion document in December 2015: A ‘blue skies’ discussion about New Zealand resource management system.

President Lawrence Yule said the first principles review of New Zealand’s environmental management framework explored whether continued evolution of the current resource management system was the best approach or whether a more fundamental reform was needed.

He said the review highlighted the question of whether, after 25 years and repeated experiments and amendments, the Resource Management Act (RMA) was still fit-for-purpose.

“The timing of the LGNZ thinkpiece is propitious, landing as it has in the middle of a good deal of discussion on these issues – and we look forward to a significant response to the questions it poses.”

Since LGNZ announced its review, the Productivity Commission has also begun a review of New Zealand’s urban planning and resource management system.

LGNZ has invited feedback on the thinkpiece by 19 February before preparing a final report during 2016.

Read the full discussion document.

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