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Main concepts of sustainable development

In order to assess whether New Zealand is moving towards or away from sustainable development, we seek to answer four main questions, based around four important concepts:

  • Meeting needs – How well do we live?

            Everyone is entitled to meet their needs through the accumulation and use of resources.

  • Fairness – How well are resources distributed?

            Everyone is entitled to a fair share of, and access to, resources such as income, education, health, and clean air.

  • Efficiency – How efficiently are we using our resources?

            Managing our production and consumption of resources in a way that minimises the impact on the environment.

  • Preserving resources – What are we leaving behind for our children?

            Preserving environmental, economic, and social resources not only for the present generation but also for future generations.

The summary of our progress towards sustainable development groups the 16 key indicators according to these four questions. The trends for each indicator show either a positive, negative, or neutral change in relation to sustainable development, and are identified by one of the following symbols:

Table, trend indicators.

A red cross, for example, does not mean that the result is unsustainable. Rather, it shows that there has been negative change over the time period in relation to the relevant sustainable development principles. Please refer to the full report Measuring New Zealand’s Progress Using a Sustainable Development Approach: 2008 (www.stats.govt.nz/sustainabledevelopment) for a description of the principles.

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