Review of policy instruments for freshwater management

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Managing freshwater quality and quantity in Aotearoa New Zealand is complex, and decision-makers must trade-off between environmental outcomes, economic costs and benefits, and distributional or social equity impacts.
The available suite of policy instruments is extensive and underutilised domestically, though all instruments differ in terms of efficiency, equality, cost-effectiveness, ease of implementation and monitoring, and in the extent to which they incentivise innovation.
If successfully utilised, a series of innovative policy instruments could complement or substitute for existing stand-alone regulatory approaches and help achieve resilient outcomes, although this would require the resolution of long-standing issues around property rights and enforcement in the context of New Zealand’s biophysical and cultural landscape.
Recognising current barriers and reframing them as opportunities has the potential to place New Zealand decision-makers in a stronger position to address issues that are at the core of the country’s water governance challenges and open up new pathways for more efficient and effective policy outcomes.




Talbot-Jones, Julia, Sophie Hale and Suzie Greenhalgh 2020. "Review of policy instruments for freshwater management." Motu Working Paper 20-10. Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. Wellington, New Zealand.


Aotearoa Foundation