WWF's Kaihautū Taiao / Environmental Science Director, Dr Aroha Spinks, reacts to the Government's Business As Usual Budget:
“Te toto o te tangata, he kai; te oranga o te tangata, he whenua (While food provides the blood in my veins, our health is drawn from the land.)
Human health and well-being are inextricably linked to the health and well-being of nature. For the well-being budget to not address nature is like trying to solve a drought by turning on a tap.
While the 2021 budget does have some line items for the climate crisis, none of these investments are enough to make a significant difference and none of them will actually reduce emissions. There is no mention of how the government will seriously reduce farm emissions or help farmers transition to regenerative farming practices.
We are particularly disappointed that ocean health was ignored in this budget. If we were truly serious about tackling the climate crisis we would be focusing on our moana. A healthy ocean is essential to stopping the climate crisis and is one of our biggest areas of ecological biodiversity. We are responsible for the fourth largest EEZ in the world and urgent action is vital, and yet for this budget, protecting and restoring our ocean is not a priority.
Of course, climate change is merely one side of the coin. Nature loss is the other side of the coin, and by not addressing this it is impossible to keep rising climate emissions in check. There is no urgency here. For the well-being of all New Zealanders we need action now.
If the government was truly serious about creating a foundation for the future, then they would:
- Commit to putting 30% of our ocean into a network of Marine Protection Areas by 2030
- Create the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Marine Sanctuary
- Fully fund cameras on 100% of all commercial fishing boats
- Value nature by transitioning to a nature-positive economy.
The way we feed and fuel our 21st century lifestyles continues to fundamentally change our planet beyond the point it can sustain us. Every single species and habitat are vulnerable to disease, climate change, food security, and habitat loss. More than 4,000 of Aotearoa's native species are endangered, 76 percent of our fresh water fish are threatened with extinction, two-thirds of our rivers are unswimmable, our entire marine environment is under threat, and only 10 percent of our wetland habitats remain.
This budget does nothing to address these problems but rather is business as usual. Business as usual will do nothing to restore and protect our rivers, air, ocean, and land. Business as usual will do nothing to restore and protect our well-being.
Together, let's invest in our future. Let's work together to ensure the government moves beyond a business as usual model to one where we put the health and well-being of people and our planet first.