25 MARCH 2008

  1. I would like first to express my thanks, on behalf of all our delegation members, to the Government of Japan for hosting this workshop. This is the largest delegation from NZ to Japan on environmental matters. We think the workshop is a good response to our Prime Ministers' wishes expressed at their meeting in 2005. Our participants reflect the range of interests we have in common with Japan, which is seen as a valuable partner for NZ.
  2. NZ international environmental diplomacy is determined by New Zealanders' own concern to protect the global commons, and shaped by our own circumstances and our own interests. These include:
    • Geography - we are an island nation like Japan but more "isolated" in the Southern Ocean. Our land is nearly 40% pasture, 25% indigenous forest and 8% rivers and snow.
    • The nature of our economy - it is pastoral-based; strong values seen in protecting our "green" image as well as our green reality for example access to abundant water and freedom from many pests and diseases. This is important for both tourism and exports of goods. For tourism it is our landscapes that sell New Zealand, not our cities.
  3. It is clear that we share many environmental interests with Japan. We may differ on some, but these are a minority.
    • The New Zealand Government has introduced the concept of "sustainability" to cover a wide range of policies, both at home and internationally. We will discuss our domestic policies later in the meeting. Sustainability also informs our international policies. New Zealand is keen to share its experiences in implementing sustainability policies and to learn about useful initiatives in Japan - for example, Tokyo's plans to become "the city with the lowest environmental load in the world".
    • Water management is one of the most significant natural resource issues for New Zealand, both managing the quantity and quality of our freshwater resources into the future. We commend Japan for hosting the first Asia-Pacific Water Summit. New Zealand attended and found the Summit was valuable in emphasising the urgency and importance of the clean drinking water and sanitation goals in the Asia-Pacific region, and in particular the challenges faced by Small Island Developing States. We look forward to working with Japan on water issues.
    • New Zealand will be hosting World Environment Day on 5 June 2008, with the theme "kicking the carbon habit" - moving towards a low-carbon economy and lifestyle.
    • New Zealand advocates for constructive and practical reform of existing environmental institutions in discussion on International Environment Governance (IEG) reform, based on our overarching view that IEG reform is best achieved through reform of existing institutions.
    • Biodiversity, New Zealand is looking to develop a more positive and constructive profile in the CBD. New Zealand wants to ensure that CBD decisions are practical, and backed by credible scientific evidence.
    • Antarctica's value as an area for research essential to understanding the global environment has never been more significant, particularly now that we are at the mid-point of International Polar Year. New Zealand is involved in three major International Polar Year projects related to climate change including ANDRILL, which is producing some exciting results that will help our understanding of climate change.
  4. Climate change.
    • This is our greatest environmental and economic challenge. We appreciate the close working relationship we have with Japan bilaterally, in the "Umbrella Group" and, in the region, at last years' APEC and EAS meetings. The Umbrella Group will be stronger with Australia able now to play a full part.
    • New Zealand sees the Bali result as enabling, but not guaranteeing, the sort of comprehensive post-2012 agreement we seek. So there is much hard work ahead.
    • Like Japan, we believe all major economies must participate. Like Japan we support having a long term global goal to guide action.
    • We must settle rules before commitments - this is critical for us in the land use and forestry area.
    • We think Japan has played a useful role recently through the "Cool Earth" initiative and in highlighting sectoral approaches. We think that in whatever the final arrangements, sectoral approaches will have a role. After all, greenhouse gas emissions come from sectors. Some sectoral analysis can help for example in consideration of burden-sharing arrangements. We do not see sectoral-based commitments replacing the Kyoto Protocol commitments. They could be complementary.
    • Deforestation is a key issue for New Zealand.
    • New Zealand is committed to an active role in the UNFCCC negotiations. We are leading on agriculture emissions, through the LEARN partnership.
    • Japan has an important responsibility as G8 chair this year; we would be interested to hear your plans for the climate change outcomes.
  5. We hope this visit will lead to strengthened policy dialogue with Japan, and that we can also look forward to identifying some practical areas for cooperation which could engage officials, scientists, businesses and academics. Low emissions technology is seen as a particularly promising area for cooperation with Japan. While in most respects, with the exception of agriculture, New Zealand is a technology taker, we have a strong record of innovation in some fields including renewable energy and its applications, earthquake engineering, electronics and marine technologies. We greatly appreciate the opportunity Japan has given us to explore these ideas. You will be hearing about some of New Zealand's priorities at this meeting. We will also have the benefit of the field visit to Tsukuba tomorrow and other activities during the week. We look forward to a rewarding week in Japan.

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