Sustainable development and governance

New Zealand plays a part in a number of international organisations working in different ways to protect and improve the environment.

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United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

New Zealand is a member of UNEP, the leading global authority on the environment. UNEP meetings are an opportunity for global discussions on international environmental issues and to set the direction of the international environmental agenda.

UNEP provides information on the state of the global environment including the Global Environment Outlook(external link) and also plays an important role in international negotiations on Multilateral Environment Agreements, often acting as the secretariat to a number of these.

New Zealand was a founding member of UNEP, and now participates in its governing body, the United Nations Environment Assembly.

Read more about the United Nations Environment Programme(external link)

Within the United Nations Environment Programme, New Zealand has joined other countries in supporting coordinated global action to combat marine plastic pollution through a new global agreement. The first Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meeting (INC1) on this agreement was held from 28 November to 2 December 2022, in Punta del Este, Uruguay. At INC1 New Zealand joined a number of countries in the High Ambition Coalition(external link) to End Plastic Pollution. The High Ambition Coalition is committed to develop an ambitious international legally binding instrument and shares a common ambition to end plastic pollution by 2040.

The second INC (INC2) will be held from 29 May to 2 June 2023 in Paris, France. Negotiations are expected to conclude by the end of 2024.

Read more about the process and how you can share your views, on the Ministry for the Environment’s website(external link).

The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development (DSD)

The DSD promotes and coordinates the UN’s sustainable development agenda. It supports initiatives such as the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in 2012, and the Third International Conference of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) held in Samoa in September 2014. New Zealand was an active participant in both conferences, and provided extensive logistical and other support for hosting the SIDS meeting in Samoa.

Read more about the UN Division for Sustainable Development(external link)

Global Environment Facility (GEF)

New Zealand contributes to the financing and governance of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This provides funding and other support for environmental initiatives in developing countries, including in the Pacific. The kind of action supported by the GEF includes climate change response, prevention of biodiversity loss, and management of pollution, land degradation and international waters.

New Zealand participates in the GEF Council as part of a regional group including Australia and South Korea.

Read more about the Global Environment Facility (external link)

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

New Zealand participates in the OECD’s Environment Policy Committee and other working groups. The committee collects and analyses data and provides expertise and policy advice to help governments address environmental challenges. It also carries out performance reviews, the last one for New Zealand being in 2017.

Read more about New Zealand’s environmental performance(external link)

Read more about the OECD Environment Policy Committee(external link) 

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

PBES is the leading international body for assessing the declining state of the planet's biodiversity and ecosystems, and how this affects people’s well-being. It was set up in 2012 and is open to all members of the UN. New Zealand has been actively involved with IPBES since it was established in 2011. We attend conferences and regularly provide comment on scientific and implementation issues. The Department of Conservation is the lead agency working with IPBES on behalf of New Zealand.

Find out more about IPBES(external link)

Pacific organisations

New Zealand also works with or participates in the:

Climate change organisations

New Zealand participates in many other environmental forums that relate specifically to climate change.

Read about our climate change work


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