Science in Freshwater Policy Development

A case study of the role science played in the development of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

Daneil Lahof, 123rf

Project Details Ngā taipitopito

Project Status:
Completed
Challenge funding:
$92,000
Research duration:
April 2021 – August 2022

Collaborators Ngā haumi

Environmental Defence Society

You are here: Home / Projects / ­ Science in Freshwater Policy Development

What are we doing?E aha ana mātou?

For government policy to result in good environmental outcomes, it needs to be based on the best available science, and reflect community concerns and values – but finding the balance is often not straightforward.

The role that science plays in informing policy is complex. Science is seldom able to provide absolute answers and governments must make decisions in an environment where science advice may be actively evolving.

This project explores the relationship between science and policy through a detailed case study of the role that science played in the development of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

Recommendations on how to strengthen the scientific foundations for policy in Aotearoa were drawn from in-depth anonymous interviews with key contributors to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, together with information from literature, government reports and international examples. The impact of current regulatory direction, which guides the regulatory impact assessment process, was also reviewed.

How can the research be used? Ka pēhea e whai take ai te rangahau?

  • Using the development of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management as a case study, this project provides insights on how to strengthen the connections between science and policy.
  • The project’s final report makes several recommendations for how future environmental policy can reflect a strong science evidence base. A key finding was that current regulatory guidance prioritises economic matters over environmental ones. This can prevent good science-based outcomes, and slow or prevent change.
  • Improvements to the policy support system, including strengthening connectivity between science funding and policy needs, and improving science communication, were also recommended.
  • The research identified the core strengths of the science process to develop the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management including the operation of the science advisory group. They included the diversity of membership, independent reporting and recording of minority views, and clear direction not to consider economic matters. The report identifies shared objectives that might be built upon for future policy development.
  • The project highlights the different roles and policy lenses employed by the Ministries for the Environment and Primary Industries in formulating the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the associated Regulatory Impact Statement. It explores how these factors altered the use of science for policy.
  • Synergies and tensions between mātauranga Māori and biophysical science were highlighted, to help ensure that future policy reflects Māori values, priorities, and the specific, local and historical information about Aotearoa New Zealand provided by mātauranga Māori.
  • Webinars to follow the release of the report will provide an opportunity for discussion of the project’s analysis.

Related research updates Ngā pānui mō te rangahau nei

Research team Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

Project Lead
Raewyn Peart
Environmental Defence Society
Deidre Koolen-Bourke
Environmental Defence Society
Gary Taylor
Environmental Defence Society

Tools & resources Ngā utauta me ngā rauemi

Video

Science for Policy – The Regulatory Process

This webinar describes the results of an in-depth study into the role that science played in the development of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater…
View Video
Video

Science for Policy – System Supports

This webinar describes the results of an in-depth study into the role that science played in the development of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater…
View Video

Academic outputs He whakaputanga ngaio

Technical Report

Science for Policy: The role of science in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

This report takes a rare ‘behind the scenes’ look at how environmental policy is developed in Aotearoa New Zealand. The report includes comments from confidential…
View Technical Report
Technical Report

The impact of policy on sustainable land use options in New Zealand

Do current national and regional policy frameworks discourage (or insufficiently encourage) change at the scale and diversity needed for the Our Land and Water National…
View Technical Report

Pathways to Transition Projects

Rural Professional Fund 2020 21

Rural Professionals Fund 2020-21

There were 15 successful projects in the first funding round for the Our Land and Water Rural Professionals Fund.
View Project
Rural Professional Fund 2021 22

Rural Professionals Fund 2021-22

There were 12 successful projects in the second funding round for the Our Land and Water Rural Professionals Fund.
View Project

Implementing Te Mana o Te Wai

Supporting iwi, hapū, water users, and decision-makers to understand and implement policy that prioritises Te Mana o te Wai
View Project
Taiao Manawa Ora Purpose Led Change Turquoise Small Scaled

Revitalise Te Taiao

Place-based research to develop evidence-based examples of how agribusinesses and communities can make enduring changes in land use, management, value chains, and market focus to…
View Project
Puhoro Stem

Pūhoro STEMM Academy

Our Land and Water is a primary sponsor of the Pūhoro STEMM Academy, a mentoring and support programme for Māori high school students.
View Project
Next Generation Influencers

Next Generation Influencers

This was a one-year programme to develop the capability of influential, innovative future leaders.
View Project
Scroll to Top