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EDS releases third working paper from Resource Management Law Reform Project

05 October 2018

EDS has released its third working paper as part of its Resource Management Law Reform Project. The project is taking a first-principles look at how New Zealand’s resource management system operates and how it could be improved for the coming decades.

Following on from the first two papers, which examined a wide variety of matters from ethics to legislative design, the third working paper considers most of the remaining aspects of system reform. It discusses alternative approaches to addressing Māori interests, the design of institutions and the importance of resourcing and funding, and the proper role of the system. It also investigates various operational components – from economic instruments to compliance, monitoring, enforcement and evaluation.

“These are among the trickiest areas to navigate,” said senior researcher, Dr Greg Severinsen.

“When we talk about institutions, for instance, we’re not just talking about impersonal structures – they consist of real people, doing valuable work. But that doesn’t mean we should be resistant to change. We need to ask the right questions in a systematic and holistic way, rather than attacking or constantly reshuffling agencies in response to crises.

“Let’s think about the characteristics of institutions, their place within the wider system and their relationships with each other. Why are agencies independent or accountable? Central or local? Tasked with a narrow or broad remit? One trend we’re seeing is a more robust degree of structured independent advice to government – from institutions like the proposed Climate Commission and a new independent infrastructure entity (the so-called I-body),” said Dr Severinsen.

The working paper includes contributions from a variety of experts, including Dr Robert Joseph on the interface between tikanga Māori and resource management law, Professor Tim Hazledine, Dr Tim Denne, and Dr Theo Stephens on the role of the economy and economic instruments, and Dr Marie Brown on compliance, monitoring and enforcement.

“It’s great to see this project coming together, and really heartening that the momentum for a fundamental rethink has only increased over the past 18 months,” said EDS Policy Director, Raewyn Peart.

“There will no doubt be arguments over the detail of what reform should look like – that’s only natural. But it’s great to see the appetite there – a recognition that a very different future is going to require us to think hard about whether the way we manage natural and built environments needs changing.”

The EDS project will culminate at the end of the year with the release of a final paper, which will synthesise and build on the work done so far as well as present three possible models for a reformed system.

The project is being supported by the New Zealand Law Foundation, the Employers & Manufacturers Association, Property Council New Zealand, Infrastructure New Zealand and Watercare. For more information on the project, and to download Working Paper 3, see RM Reform Project.