New Zealand has announced a huge stimulus package, with a heavy focus on job creation and the environment, as it seeks to restart its economy and move beyond the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The package, which is designed to create shared value – the notion of solving a social need through sustainable commercial practices – will see the government commit NZ$50bn to stimulus packages, designed to create upwards of 11000 new jobs. Large parts of the package are specifically targeted towards environmental causes.
While finance minister Grant Robertson announced the overall stimulus package, conservation minister and Green party Member of Parliament Eugenie Sage explained how the portion allocated to her department would be spent, saying that projects that targeted pest and weed control operations and biodiversity projects would be prioritized.
“This investment in nature will not only support thousands of people with jobs but pay dividends for generations to come by giving nature a helping hand,” she said.
“The workers will help protect and restore indigenous biodiversity and habitat, help with revegetation of private and public conservation land and undertake riparian planting.
“There is an opportunity in these regions for people who have lost their jobs in other sectors to move into this habitat work,” she said.
Package meets with mixed reviews
Despite the scale of the package and its obvious focus on environmental issues, there has still been criticism from some quarters, with activists suggesting that there is an insufficient focus on projects that directly tackle climate change.
Greenpeace’s Norman Russell described the investment as loose change telling The Guardian, “Unfortunately there’s only loose change from Grant Robertson’s pocket to address our most pressing existential challenge – climate change.
“The finance minister talked about Covid-19 being a one in a hundred-year threat, but climate change is the threat that will decide if we have another hundred years on this planet.”
In turn Megan Hubscher a spokesperson for Forest & Bird said, “Our initial view is that there is a lack of detail to give confidence in an economic and climate reset.
“The $1bn on environmental jobs is an excellent investment and a major opportunity to save 4,000 native species heading towards extinction, but we want to see clearer direction on the climate and economy before we celebrate.”